The Department of Corrections, more specifically St. Clair Correctional Facility, has reached a new low this week. The Warden has decided to enforce a policy that prohibits Correctional Officers from bringing in normal items such as mesh backpacks, can sodas, and even sealed bags of chips. Correctional Officers are being required to work 16 hour shifts on a regular basis and are already being forced to work with their hands tied behind their backs due to the lack of security equipment. This new policy restricts Officers to using only plastic bags/backpacks not to exceed 16” x 12” x 4”, prohibits sealed / unopened / unsearchable opaque or Styrofoam food / drink containers, and even goes as far to state that a wallet cannot exceed 4” x 8”. Once Correctional Officers enter the facility they are not authorized to leave during their shift, even if their 12 hour shift has been involuntarily extended to 16 hours. With no designated lunch period or official breaks, Officers rely on the food and drinks they bring to last their entire shift.
Ever since the facility’s x-ray baggage scanner stopped working (and was later removed) approximately a year ago, the flow of contraband into the facility has increased exponentially. The regular occurrence of “packages” being tossed over the perimeter fence has mysteriously stopped. One can only imagine why. Why not replace the x-ray scanner, instead of relying on inconsistent and substandard hand searches of Officer’s property? If stopping the introduction of contraband is the Warden’s concern, why not do it the most effective and proven way possible?
The department’s regulations and this policy also prohibit cigars of any type. This has always been enforced at the institution. Approximately two years ago, a Correctional Officer was handcuffed, interrogated, and forced to resign upon the discovery that he had given an inmate some Black & Mild cigars. Yet nearly every day, a Warden brings in Black & Mild cigars, openly smokes them, and gives them to inmates. If this is illegal for an Officer to do, what makes it acceptable for a Warden to commit? Why prevent Officers from bringing food and drinks to work? Why are Officers the only ones being held to the regulations and policies? At what point does one realize how irrational their policies and decisions truly are?