2015 in Review: How corrections was in the media spotlight this year
Throughout the year, we fought many battles — some battles ended in defeat and some ended in victory, but either way we fought valiantly
By Anthony Gangi
The year 2015 was one in which our whisper became a scream. This was the year that we decided to no longer just sit back and listen to the media bastardize and berate our profession. In the wake of a New York Prison Escape, we came out of the shadows and reminded the world that we are not defined by the flaws of one, but rather we are defined by the professionalism of many. As the media — individuals far removed from what we do — was quick to take shots at us but we stood up, contested their twisted perspective, and demanded their respect.
We made it known that we are no longer just guards who stand idle in a world with limited movement, but rather we are correctional officers who are sworn to enforce the laws in a world that only a few will admit exists. We use to be just the keepers of the kept, hidden deep within the shadows of law enforcement, but in 2015 we emerged from the shadows and stepped into the light. Together we are standing tall and proud.
Throughout the year, we fought many battles — some battles ended in defeat and some ended in victory, but either way we fought valiantly. For example, those in Tennessee who work in facilities that are severely understaffed have been noted for thier courage. We who suffer your same plight hear your screams of being outnumbered and overworked. We know you are tired and we know you miss your families. But if we may, we would like to recognize you for your bravery and your sacrifice. You are truly the unsung heroes who are committed to a cause that is far greater than most people could ever comprehend. We sleep well at night with the knowledge that you are our protectors.
Also in 2015, we have seen our fair share of outside pressures that force inside change. Solitary confinement has been one of the topics that has been the center of debate throughout 2015. Slowly, certain critics aimed to eliminate solitary confinement and limit our ability to maintain a safe and secured environment.
If we remove someone from society for committing a wrong on the streets, why would we want to limit the same type of action for those who commit a crime behind the wall?
Solitary confinement is a needed element to maintain control in a world that would otherwise be chaotic. Take away solitary confinement and you take away the same amount of safety that those on the outside can easily enjoy. Maybe it is time to talk to the front line and see how they feel about the changes that you want to implement. Let the front-line help you build constructively. They are the ones most affected by the changes that are made. If you leave them out, you leave them vulnerable.
The Humanity Within
There was another movement in 2015 among the media that embraced all of law enforcement (which includes corrections). The mainstream media seemingly sought to remind the public that those in law enforcement are brothers, fathers, sisters, mothers, sons, daughters, etc. However, what appears like a great attempt to remind the public that those who wear blue are people too, also further divides those who are sworn to protect from those in their protection.
Why is it that we need to take the public out of the law enforcement profession for them to get a taste of our sense of humanity? Why can’t the public see the humanity in the profession? The role of a law enforcement professional is centered on the moral codes and ethics that define the human element. Any perspective that removes the humanity from law enforcement, by highlighting who we are outside of the uniform, isolates the main reason why we made the decision to put on that uniform. Our prescribed role in society is to bring a balance and to provide hope when all else seems hopeless.
These are dark times, and the light that needs to shine must originate from within the law enforcement profession. We need to build faith back in the system by reminding people of why the system exists. We are the protectors of humanity and our duties are defined by the hope that, when there is a loss of balance, our service will bring back the connection for us to love one another. Whether behind the wall or on the streets, when the social fabric of society begins to wither and fade, we stand tall and rebuild.
We are on the front line everyday battling with those who choose to live in darkness. This pits us against those who look to rid us of brotherly love and build a new world founded on hatred and disgust for one another. Even when the enemy grows thick and the horizon of hope can no longer be seen, we continue to fight. Our sword and shield are built out of the love we have for one another. If we have to remind you of the humanity that exist outside, what do you think motivates us on the inside? It is our belief in humanity and the human spirit that motivates our defense and keeps us pushing forward.
My experience in law enforcement is deep in the shadows — corrections is constantly in the dark.
But that does not stop us from finding our way. Even in the dark, we find the light from within and continue to look for the hope that promises that tomorrow will be better. We rehabilitate those who may seem hopeless so we can bring back the humanity that was lost.
We are defined by the many interactions within that center on the belief that, even though we may fall, with help, we can get up. We may struggle at times, but without struggle there is no progress.
Therefore as we enter 2016, we welcome the struggle in the hope that we will progress. This is our service. It’s a service that is motivated by our love for one another, which can only be maintained by our belief in humanity. If it wasn't for humanity, what else would motivate us to fight? In closing, there is no need to look outside of law enforcement for humanity. All you need to do is look a little deeper into the law enforcement profession and, from within humanity will shine brightly.