The Day In The Life Of A Female Prison Officer

By Anna Collins 3 months ago

1. 5. AM Wake up

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Being a prison officer, it's an early wake up! It's 5am, time to get up and ready for a taxing day ahead. They have to grab themselves a good breakfast and a coffee as it is important to be set up and ready or the day ahead. It's never known what will happen and the day ahead will be very tiring and you have to be alert at all times.

2. 6AM: arrival and safety checks

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A prison officer arrives for work at 6AM. As soon as they arrive to the prison they will be checked with metal detectors and screens, patted down... as well as having their bag searched to check that they are not taking anything dangerous into the prison.

3. 6.20AM: shift handover and morning briefing

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Now there's a meeting where the officers are officially handed over as the shifts change. This is important because it signifies the responsibility shifting. It is also important to be informed of any incident that occurred on the previous overnight shift, as well as being told of any reports that need to be reviewed.

4. 7: AM: the checking of equipment and supplies

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Before a prison officer starts their day, they have to check their own equipment to ensure they are safe. For example, the radio to be able communicate with colleagues or call for backup if it is necessary. And check restraint equipment to ensure they can protect themselves in dangerous situations.

5. 7: 30: cell checks and searches

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Now it's time for a prison officer to check and search the cells of the female prisoners. They check for prohibited items, or anybody posing a threat or a hazard to themselves or someone around them. It is an inspection where the officer is looking for any signs of damage which indicate tampering. For example, a normal routine consists of checking the windows and doors locks are functioning a normal, and confiscating any hidden any items such as dr*gs or weapons, perhaps self made.

6. 8AM: breakfast time

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Breakfast time is the first meal of the day for the prisoners and the first time they leave their cell since the previous night. So now, it's time to escort the female prisoners down to the cafeteria where they receive breakfast. The officer will oversee the prisoners as they eat and ensure that there is no trouble.

7. 9AM: security checks

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After breakfast, before the prisoner's programmes and work start it is important for an officer to do safety checks to check that nothing has gone missing from the dining hall, and that the prisoners have not tried to smuggle anything back to their call which could be potentially harmful.

8. 9:30AM: assigning work tasks

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At this time, a prison officer will assign work duties to the women. After breakfast the female officer's are given their individual work assignments or tasks for the day. For example, some prisoners help with the cleaning or cooking in prison as a part of their daily schedule.

9. 10AM: overseeing prisoner programmes

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In the all female prison the programmes can vary from a mixed or all male prison. Women still receive classes to teach them a trade outside. But,  they also have the option for parenting classes or child rearing classes for those prisoner's who are mother's or who are currently expecting - it's a very important part of rehabilitation.

10. 11AM: security walk throughout the grounds

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Security is something that is ensured at multiple points throughout the day. A prison is a dangerous environment, and security means protecting both officers and prisoners. They now check locks, check both staff and inmate ID cards, and make sure that everyone is following the prison regulations.

11. 11:30AM: lunch time

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Now it's time for the prisoner's to have their lunch, which follows a very similar routine as breakfast. The officer will escort them down to the dining hall. Here they will check them, and watch over them. It's not just a check for safety, but also welfare. For example, a prison officer will take note that all inmates are well and eating their portion of food.

12. 12PM: Counting inmates

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Another head count is required after lunch. At times where prisoner's are able to leave their cell, it is important to round them up and check that everybody is accounted for. This is so that anybody attempting to escape the prison is located, or anybody hiding can be found.

13. 12.30PM: Substance tests

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After lunch it is usually a time when dr*g tests may be conducted, due to the fact that many prisoners have been mixing together. However, these can be random and it varies so that prisoners cannot account for when it will happen to get a more realistic view of if anybody is taking dr*gs in the prison.

14. 1PM: Exercising outside

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Exercising is an important part of a prisoner's day. It helps keep the prisoners physically and mentally in better health. A prison officer will escort the women outside to do some gym, and oversee some exercises. After this, they escort them back inside to shower.

15. 1.30PM: Visiting time

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Visiting time is when prison officers have to oversee outsiders coming into the prison to visit inmates. Some women will be seeing their children or babies. For the women with young babies, these visits take place under extra supervision. For the women seeing family/ friends/ partners these take place in the main visiting room, under the observation of multiple prison officers.

16. 2PM: Phone calls

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At a similar time, those prisoners who have not got any scheduled visitors may use the phone to make a call. These have to be monitored rigorously to check that the contents of the phone call are not dangerous in any way, with a prisoner suggesting that they will do something harmful etc..

17. 2.30PM: Prisoner's writing emails

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Similarly, some prisoners will be using the computers to send emails. These emails have to be screened by the prion officer to check they are not containing anything which may lead to illegal or banned activity. Emails may be checked at each point, or there may be random checks.

18. 3PM: officer interaction with inmates

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Now it is time for the officer to spend time with the female officer. Here the prison officer can build a rapport with the women, answers any questions as well as listen to their queries or complaints. Or, if any of them need emotional support during this time then this is when you make a note to put something in place and follow up.

19. 3.30PM incident response

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Although incident response happens throughout the day, now is the time to respond to non urgent queries. But, the emergency response means you have to be ready to deal with fights, give first aid, or you could even be responsible for providing emergency care until the emergency forces arrive.

20. Use of force

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Of course you never know when this is going to be needed, and so it could be at various times of the day. But, in a typical day in a female prison, force will be necessary at some point. This could be because of a prisoner rebelling, or trying to cause a fight, or refusing to do something such as go back to their cell.

21. 4PM: escort any prisoner to appointments

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Prisoners have appointments scheduled on different days, so it is likely that most days there will be prisoners with some kind of appointments. This could be with the mental health team, or a midwife appointment, or for a medical assessment of some sort or even a court appearance.

22. 4.30PM: officer training

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Because incident response is a part of life as a daily prison officer, training is also a vital part of the job. There will be some kind of training most days, to make sure that the officer is fully qualified at each and every point. For example, there is training to do with physical care, as well as emotional support and training specific to the care of women. This could be for example, how to support mothers in prison as well as many other subjects.

23. 5PM: dinner time

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Now it's time for the officer's to take the prisoners down to the dining hall again, for their dinner. Dinner is the last meal of the day and the last time a prisoner will be out of their cell for the night. So once the meal has been overseen, the prisoner's are escorted back and another head count is performed.

24. 5.45PM: a full prison search

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After dinner time there are searched of all public spaces within the prison. This search happens after dinner as the most thorough prison search of the day, because this is the last time the prisoners enter public space until the morning. Officer's will search for hidden items, missing items, and evidence of tampering.

25. 6.30PM: Paperwork

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A day is never complete without lots of paperwork. Officers have to file reports consistently, meaning they have to log activities, or incidents. Not only do they have to log any incident for their own responsibility, but also to inform anybody taking the next shift so that they are in a fully informed position.

26. 7PM: Speaking with colleagues

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Not only is the paperwork important, but so is verbal communication. This is the time of the day where an officer has a chance to chat with colleagues and report back on anything that has happened throughout the day. It is very important that they share important details.

27. 8PM: Meetings

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Now it's nearing the end of the day, and an officer has to go to any meetings that have been scheduled, or attend any emergency meetings which have been called. It is also now time to respond to their emails so that everything is in order for their next working day.

28. 8.30PM: Scheduled time for further training

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Further training can happen daily or every few days, depending on what new information or equipment has been brought in. This may include training other officers who are new or still learning, or training to use equipment such as batons, pepper spray which the prisoner may use in times of need to protect themselves from danger.

29. 9PM: Communicate with external organisations

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At the very end of the working day, it is important to make sure that any contact with external organisations has been done, or is completed before the prisoner logs off for the day. This could be communicating with law enforcement or hospitals, for example.

30. 9.30PM Hand back security items and clock off for the day

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It's now time for the prison officer to leave. First, they have to hand back any uniform or equipment which cannot be taken outside of the prison. Then, they have to be checked on the way out so that no weapons etc are taken outside. Then, it's finally time to go home and rest!

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