An Enlightening FaceBook Exchange

By BitcoDavid

We received this message from a FaceBook follower who – for obvious reasons – asked that I don’t post their name.

Okay so I’m going to be a prison guard myself (maximum security male prison if I get what I want) and am going to be learning ASL over the summer (I have an aunt that is deaf and may be able to spend a month or so with her learning the language and a bit about the culture).

What are some of the things I should be told about before I enter in my career field (currently a student and have a year left until I get my degree in criminal justice). Please help me to prepare, I want to help them when no other guard can. I would also like to point out that I do not claim to understand (nor do I think I will ever) the culture nor mind set of a deaf person (let alone one in prison).

I also will not baby them, but will attempt to treat them in a way that will put them on as even a playing field as their fellow inmates. One thing I was thinking I could do was to flash a light in their cells when it’s time to wake up (they couldn’t hear the door unlocking) or to do something similar if they have a visitor or if they are not hearing a warning that is being verbally stated. Especially if there are multiple inmates that are deaf and a

South Korea tests world's first robot prison guard. Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.,news-14852.html
South Korea tests world’s first robot prison guard. Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.,news-14852.html

limited amount of interpreter/s available. I think it wouldn’t hurt (I’m not going so far as to say that I’d be doing them a favor – which I’m not – but I’d be at least trying to restore some justice to the “justice” system if you know what I mean) if there was someone else on staff that could speak with them. Especially in cases where an interpreter is afraid of physical repercussions from other inmates if the interpreter were to translate an accusation or some such message that would incriminate another inmate.

Sorry about the length. Long story short: What are some of the things I should be told about before I enter in my career field as a prison guard (hopefully maximum security male) that will know (maybe not extensively, but a fair amount) ASL?

Here’s the short answer I replied with.

Well first off, sign up to follow Learning ASL is a great 1st step. You’ll be in the extreme minority of corrections officers. However – and you’re NOT going to believe this – but I have heard of cases where COs who DID sign, weren’t allowed to use it. Some institutions are afraid it can be used for secret code.The best short answer I can give you – and this applies to all your interactions with inmates, not just the Deaf – is be sensitive to the humanity of your charges. Inmates are people. Some of them may not be GOOD people, while others may possibly be unjustly incarcerated saints – but whichever, they’re still people. Treat people with dignity and respect, and they will always treat you with the same.

I closed by asking for permission to post our interaction, and this was the response.

Also, please ask the readers for their input and suggestions. I’m going to be writing a paper on the subject and would just looove (no sarcasm, I find the subject matter absolutely fascinating) to hear what others have to say. I’ve already spoken with a few interpreters and my thirst for knowledge is nowhere near quenched.

I’ve actually been reading some of the articles on your website and am disgusted that there are guards that would not report the rapes. This is part of the reason why I want to work with the men. There are more instances of rape. I want to be there as a fair guard. I look at corruption as a disgusting human flaw that I will attempt to stay away from. I don’t want to become that person. It makes me sad to think of such a thing.

I want to help in what small way I can, but I need your help to do it. I want to try to be as sincere and to best represent my mind set as best as possible (it was really late last night when I wrote that message). Also, you could just post this message as well, I’d be okay with that. I forgot to mention, I might consider, if I find working with the general population too stressful to work during the grave yard shift, when there are no interpreters and the most common time (or so I’ve been led to believe) for inmates to attempt to commit suicide. If there is no interpreter and one deaf inmate should commit suicide I would want to be there (as probably the only guard that can speak ASL) to get their last message, to see what last words for they may have for loved ones.

In closing this post, I’m going to do what she requested. That is, I put it to you, our readers. Please comment on areas where you believe this person can study that will help them to be the kind of CO they want to be, and someone who can make a difference in our badly broken prison system.

English: Folsom prison
Folsom prison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

[Editor’s note: While looking for artwork for this post, I discovered two very disturbing trends that I plan on looking into further for future posts. 1) The testing of robotic devices for use as prison guards. 2) Several sources report that becoming a prison guard – especially in California – is now seen as a more desirable career path than pursuing a professional career such as doctor or lawyer.]



11 thoughts on “An Enlightening FaceBook Exchange

  1. Love this post!! in some places – robotic devices already hand out lunch sacks to prisoners….and I can absolutely say that it is true about CA prison guard envy. Starting wage can be close to 72k a year, not counting their benefits. And add in overtime and some seasoned vets have earned 1 million or close to. You might be interested to know I have some old posts on my blog about this issue….


  2. Pingback: deafinprison
  3. I was very pleased with this post. More Sign language percolates into the hearing world, the better for all of us. I use Sign through plate glass windows, noisy restaurants and any place where visual communication is easier than sound. Prison, particularly, is a place where the less said, the better. The problem with administration taking sign for code, can be overcome with a little time and education. I hope you go through with this. I think it would be good for all concerned.


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