How safe is it, really?

  1. I'm an ER nurse now, and have talked to several people about my interest in moving into corrections. I have always been told, "you don't want to do that!" I had a nurse practitioner tell me that she had tried it before, and had to walk distances between prisoners with no guards close by, and that when she entered the facilities, there were signs posted that said, "we do not negotiate for hostages." I'm interested in corrections, but I don't want to feel that I'm risking my life for every shift! Can I get some feedback from you guys?

    Thanks!
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   BSNinTX
    The easy answer - and the only answer - is that it depends.

    I work in a low security federal prison. We do not have officers with us, or even in the medical area, unless there is an inmate from special housing. This is pretty much the norm in the federal system regardless of the custody level except the max and perhaps the high security. At the same time, we are all trained to take care of ourselves; we take the same five week intro to corrections course as new officers. We learn self-defense, fire arms, etc., etc.

    I feel much safer here than when I was working in the hospital (a nice one) or in an indigent care clinic. Rather than having some minimum wage security guard who can't do anything if there is a problem, I have a cadre of trained law enforcement officers at my back. I always carry a radio with an emergency button that will call dozens of officers and other staff to my help.

    On the other hand, I know of other places (county, state) that I wouldn't work in with an armed escort and an armored vest. The way facilities manage inmates influences the way the inmates treat one another and staff. Every place is different, even within a system and with similar custody, etc., characteristics.

    The straight deal is that you need to research and get a feel for a place you are interested in. Ask to tour, meet with staff, maybe shadow. Talk to nurses and others who work there, including non-medical staff such as officers (especially the lowest ranking officers who have the most direct contact with inmates and have no agenda to push).
  4. by   Truegem
    I work in a county jail. I feel safer here than when I am out shopping! There was another thread about this, and basically, I said three things...
    1. The inmates are "in their place." They have to walk with their hands behind their backs. They know that if they make a move, there will be 20 deputies on them. The "bad guys" on the streets just walk around like normal. And there may not be a cop around for miles!
    2. The "bad guys" are easily idientifiable, they are all wearing bright yellow jumpsuits. The bad guys on the streets are dressed just like you and me.
    3. There are no guns in the jail. On the streets, a bad guy could have a gun in his waistband or a knife...scary!
    I feel so safe here, but of course that doesn't mean I don't use precautions, like, I don't turn my back on them. When I have to walk them to another room, they walk in front of me. Etc.
    Go for it! I love corrections!
  5. by   tirzo13
    Depends where you work at i suppose.

    Alot of times the Officers don't give escorts.
    I'm male, so i kind of expect them to ignore me, they do escort young female nurses though of course.

    Still, we have had a nurse with a broken jaw in the past year.
    maybe just 1 like that a year.
    Alot of nurses get spat on.

    We can debate how dangerous saliva is.
    Point being, even if sterile i dont' like someones spit in my eye.

    I have worked, all levels in california, minimum to max.
    Just depends on the warden, captain, sgt's, and officers alot of the times.
    After a while you get tired of asking the CO's to escort you and they roll their eyes, or just don't want to get up.
  6. by   SoloWytch
    I work in a county jail (and love it). I'm a med nurse, and we pass meds through the pantry window. Yes, I'm around the inmates in the hallway, and sometimes I do have to cross the pod (but always with the CO at my side.)

    Also, there are cameras everywhere that are monitored by officers in the control booth. (Sometimes I have to wonder how much attention they're paying, though, when I have to wait for them to open the doors for me. *L*)

    When I first started, I was nervous when "alone" in the hallway with an inmate (alone is in quotes because there's always a CO at the desk in the center of the hall) but now I don't even think twice about it, and feel very safe -- the danger I have is to not feel TOO safe and get careless!
  7. by   kimned88
    I am a DON at a county jail, the same as the poster above me, I assume! I can tell you that in the 4 years that I have worked there, there has been only one nurse injured by an inmate. He had just had a seizure and wanted nothing more than to sleep. This was a pattern for him. The RN decided that she HAD to get his BP. The third time she pulled him from under the blanket to wrap the cuff around his arm, he caught her on the cheekbone. She had a nice shiner for a week or so. No permenant damage. My comment to her was, "He was moving, therefore he had a blood pressure, what the hell were you thinking? Just chart non-cooperative and life goes on." Apparently she agreed. That was 2 years ago, no charges were ever filed, and she still works for me! P.S. He felt AWFUL when he was told what he did.
    I also had urine thrown on one of my nurses 1 1/2 years ago. Lower body only.
    In 4 years, I would like to see an ER meet those numbers. I don't think they could.
    So the answer is, it depends on your jail, the tolerence level and, I believe, the security level. Most county jail inmates are out in less than 2 years, they care about extra charges, Max security seldon care about an extra charge of assult.
  8. by   SoloWytch
    You assume, correctly, Kimned!

    *waves to the best DON on the planet*

    (P.S. Have you signed my PTO form yet?)
  9. by   WC Case manager
    I also was an ER nurse at a Level One Trauma Center, and am now DON in the medical unit of an intermediate sanction facility. The offenders at this facility are parole violators or waiting for SAFPF. I love the job!!!! We have 2 officers on the unit with us at all times there are offenders in medical. Very rarely have I even had to get very tough, as the offenders have been very polite. Also, when walking the halls and passig offenders going to lunch, they walk against the wall and have learned to stop should I need to go in front of them to get the door of the unit. Our guards are wonderful, and we all have been trained in security management to keep ourselves safe and each other safe. So, if you are interested in having a job that offers a lot of autonomy and you have good knowledge of meds and "every day" medical problems, I would say try it. ER work was wonderful, but I have never seen in the prison the kind of problems I saw in the ER.
  10. by   pattilpn2
    Quote from rachelgp
    I'm an ER nurse now, and have talked to several people about my interest in moving into corrections. I have always been told, "you don't want to do that!" I had a nurse practitioner tell me that she had tried it before, and had to walk distances between prisoners with no guards close by, and that when she entered the facilities, there were signs posted that said, "we do not negotiate for hostages." I'm interested in corrections, but I don't want to feel that I'm risking my life for every shift! Can I get some feedback from you guys?

    Thanks!
    Hi all, nice to join this great site, I've been an lpn for 15yrs now and have enjoyed every minute of it...everything from peds,devel. disab,med surg,ltc,. Now I've been thinking also about corrections and i've been getting such different opinions (one tells me "you will have to leave your concience at the door"). So here i am, wondering if all prisons are pretty much the same ( considering a county jail) which is what? state or federal? can't seem to figure that one out yet either. How about OT? everyone on this forum seems to be on the same page on that one..lol.. that there is plenty of it..I did ask the HR and she said "i want to say yes", BUT, don't really know, so, how about helping this confused nurse today.....BTY, I live in Fl. THANKS TO ALL!!
  11. by   Ion
    I know of more nurses assaulted in hospitals than correctional facilities.
  12. by   SoloWytch
    Hi, Patti

    I'm not sure what they meant by "leave your conscience at the door" If they mean that you have to ignore the fact that some of your patients will have committed rape, murder, child abuse, etc, yeah, you do have to put that out of your mind. (We actually aren't allowed to look up what the inmates are in for, so that we aren't influenced by their crimes.)

    As for overtime, where I am it's almost always available, but rarely mandated. (Mostly because my DON and ADON refuse to have a nurses' meeting with the topic "How to say 'No' to Kim and Tracey." I really need that meeting!)

    Also, my DON and ADON often pick up the slack, doing med pass, working in Intake or the Infirmary, etc. (And the fact that they do this is one of the reasons that it's so hard to say no when they ask if you can pick up an extra shift.)

    (Have I mentioned that I have the greatest DON (and ADON) on the planet?)

    Anyhow, I work in a county jail. Our inmates sometimes get sentenced to state facilities, some are waiting for the feds to come and get them, and a few are waiting for INS.

    All facilities are a little different. We have an agency nurse right now who worked at a jail in Atlanta (I think) and there are differences between how they did things and how we do things.

    All in all, I love my job. It's never boring, and usually entertaining.
  13. by   Ion
    Quote from SoloWytch
    Hi, Patti

    I'm not sure what they meant by "leave your conscience at the door" If they mean that you have to ignore the fact that some of your patients will have committed rape, murder, child abuse, etc, yeah, you do have to put that out of your mind. (We actually aren't allowed to look up what the inmates are in for, so that we aren't influenced by their crimes.)

    As for overtime, where I am it's almost always available, but rarely mandated. (Mostly because my DON and ADON refuse to have a nurses' meeting with the topic "How to say 'No' to Kim and Tracey." I really need that meeting!)

    Also, my DON and ADON often pick up the slack, doing med pass, working in Intake or the Infirmary, etc. (And the fact that they do this is one of the reasons that it's so hard to say no when they ask if you can pick up an extra shift.)

    (Have I mentioned that I have the greatest DON (and ADON) on the planet?)

    Anyhow, I work in a county jail. Our inmates sometimes get sentenced to state facilities, some are waiting for the feds to come and get them, and a few are waiting for INS.

    All facilities are a little different. We have an agency nurse right now who worked at a jail in Atlanta (I think) and there are differences between how they did things and how we do things.

    All in all, I love my job. It's never boring, and usually entertaining.
    Sounds like an awesome place to work.
  14. by   pattilpn2
    Quote from Ion
    I know of more nurses assaulted in hospitals than correctional facilities.
    thanks for your input, i heard yest, that i got this position and have been finding out more info from people in the correctional field, they tell me that "its the people you work with that you have to watch out for, not the inmates" ( which, of course, i do on a daily basis now), unfortunately..:uhoh21:

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