Working in Prisons as a Female Psychologist – Part 2

Working in Prisons as a Female Psychologist – Part 2

So I was assigned – as my first practicum – to work in a medium-security institution – state – where I… basically was immersed in the prison culture. It was probably one of the best experiences that I’ve had because I was so new, and this was like a new area for me, and I don’t know. Yes, I was absolutely nervous about walking into there, working with only men, but I also knew that this was something that I was extremely passionate about. Like, I like working with people who actually have like real problems like I think we can all agree on the fact that an offender has real problems, and to be a part of their rehabilitation or their re-entry into society or “the street,” as we say, is an important part and it’s also important for offenders to realize that there are people that are rooting for them and that are advocating for them and their successful re-entry into society. Prison is extremely expensive. Hospital, hospital beds, prison beds… They are… We pay, we pay, we as taxpayers are footing the bill for that. So It’s important for them to go in, serve their sentence, and then be released with a new set of skills, a new attitude, and society is better for that. But I’m not gonna get into that right now. So, some of the questions that I’m asked are extremely interesting, and I actually enjoy answering them because, not only does it educate people about mental illness and, um, going to prison, but it helps people to… think about human beings as human beings, and not as these people who are going to do bad things to us. Just because you are, or you have been convicted, or a “convict” – I don’t like that word – but just because you have been convicted of a crime or gone to prison… it’s… Yes, it’s it’s unfortunate, but… many… You can have a life. So, as a female working with male offenders in multiple prisons, one of the first questions that I’m asked by anybody that I disclose my profession to is: Why? You know, like “You’re teeny tiny,” like, “Don’t they…like aren’t you attacked? Aren’t you scared?” Like… I mean, I can, I can understand where they’re coming from because that is a natural reaction. Even though they don’t necessarily know who I am, the… I am somewhat of a small person and I’m somewhat soft-spoken So it’s a little bit of a… surprise when people really get a sense of like what I do in my profession, and that I actually enjoy it. Just to answer anybody’s questions, no, I have not been attacked. Actually, I’ve not been attacked or hurt in any sort of physical way throughout my entire professional career in mental health. Safety is an important issue that is taken into consideration by both federal and state prisons. Maintaining safety among the offenders, as well as the staff, is huge. Nobody should be injured or hurt or anything. Many of the offenders that I’ve worked with have been convicted of crimes that range from, you know, theft or drugs to murder and sex offenses that are particularly horrific.

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell


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