I’ve worked in prisons for the criminally insane for 10 years now, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t change my job for the world. With any hard work rehabilitation is possible, and I believe true justice can be served.
I remember my first day vividly, how terrified I was to do night shifts. How uneasy I got walking that long dark, silent corridor. That phrase you hear on your first day sticks with you forever.
“Eyes down, keep right.”
This is a very old, very small prison, designed for only a select few patients. No doors, no glass.
Only bars. In fact the ward itself is believed to be haunted. Patients describe a “demon” who paces back and forth, peering into their cells at night. But this is just what the recruits are told.
Now days I can spot which new recruits will stay and which will leave. It intrigues me seeing how fresh new recruits handle certain situations, and how passionate they really are to rehabilitating the unspeakable. You’ll need that passion that I have.
I don’t want to go into too much detail here, to save certain peoples dignity, but let’s just say I’ve seen more recruits leave than stay.
I’m on a late shift now with just one other officer. Flicking through patient files again and again. This is the boring part. I like to put each folder in piles I deem the worst crimes. This has just become second nature to me now; I could show you some files that would easily shatter your nerve as a new recruit.
These patients are on my ward. They are extremely fragile, yet incredibly dangerous due to their crimes. If you are going to help them, you can never forget that.
I grab the keys and head on down to that infamous long, dark corridor, locking myself in.
It’s unbearably silent, and dark. The only light coming from thin slits in each cell. This is the part so many recruits can’t handle. The atmosphere is intense. Essentially an old brick tunnel, with a row of caged animals hissing, whispering…crying.
I keep to the right and set myself on the floor, peering in at the last dark cell.
“What are these marks you’ve scratched on the walls Briggs?”
“Why don’t you come closer to the bars officer? I can barely see you lurking in the shadows out there.” He whispered this from what sounded like the back of the cell. But I can’t be certain. There are only a few patients here, so it’s usually quiet and claustrophobic.
“I’m fine. Are these the names of your victims Briggs?”
No response. He’s hiding in some dark corner; all I can see from the light are scratches on the brick walls, and his bed.
“How am I to know how you are if you won’t talk?”
I open his file and start reading some details every now and then.
“Two children taken from their home at night and drowned; look at what you did to their faces, do they look familiar now?”
“An abusive family is no excuse; I know what your father did to you.”
I can hear a slight whimpering coming from his cell, as I recall his childhood.
“I didn’t do anything!”
“But you did, that’s why you cry in your sleep. What do they say?”
“We’ll be together soon. I watched them for months!”
His sobbing is getting worse now, and I can hear movement, almost as if he is dragging his knees across the cold hard floor from one side of his cell to the other.
I feel spiteful now. His voice starting to irritate me. “You won’t be in heaven though Briggs.”
“I will! I feel dead already, I felt dead that very night.”
“You’re not dead Briggs, not dead at all. Here.”
I slide a mirror under his cell to hear his sobbing now become frantic murmurs. He scratches the walls crying in agony as he spits out his disgusting gibberish.
“QUIET! SHUT UP!”
“Look into it. Look at that face.” “BITE Briggs, bite down on your tongue and join them!”
I turn further away whilst listening to his disgusting gurgling and choking. Listening even harder I can hear him hissing and cursing through clenched teeth, as I read the files faster and faster.
“I can’t! I don’t want to”
“Yes you do Briggs, you almost had it. I gave you a mirror Briggs! Use that.”
After 10 gruelling minutes, it was all over.
I picked up the file and headed back, rattling my baton along the other cells as I left.
Oh yes. I wouldn’t change my job for the world.