We frequently complain about corrections officers in the Michigan prison system...and for good reason. Some of these people are callous and abusive, some are rude to visitors, and some are involved in the smuggling in of contraband. But the key word here is “some.” As in many situations, the troublemakers get the attention.
Many others are very nice people, kind to inmates, helpful to visitors, and carry out their duties with pride, dignity and integrity.
I bring up all of this because I just read a disturbing little piece in the February MI-CURE newsletter.
The MCO (Michigan Corrections Organization---union for the guards) recently notified the MDOC that it is withdrawing from the process of selecting a corrections officer of the year and that it will not have an official presence at the annual Department of Corrections banquet. The announcement read, in part, “The consensus of MCO leaders across the state was that the union should discontinue official participation in the selection process and banquet because the department, in recent years, has not shown genuine concern for officers.”
Let me explain why I find this disturbing. It underscores what I believe is a part of the problem. Unpleasant behavior by guards, it seems to me, represents unpleasant attitudes higher up.
In all the years that I held management positions in private business, I was fussy about my employees. If, by chance, we found out that one of my people behaved in a nasty manner I relieved that person of his/her duties. It was my position that my employees should be a reflection of me and my business. I'm the first to admit that it was much easier with a dozen employees than having a staff of thousands. But you get my point.
The MDOC should be embarrassed by this action of the guards union, and should take immediate steps to mend some fences.
And though none will be nominated, we know of numerous fine COs who qualify for Corrections Officer of the Year.
We salute them.