I cannot help but recall the stories I have read of people who damaged their careers and their personal lives by blogging without discretion. It could be a poorly chosen photograph, a badly worded criticism, or a too clear statement of a personal philosophy that might make the blogger unattractive in the workplace. Jobs lost, or career opportunities missed, simply due to blog enthusiasm and a moment or two (or quite a few) of simply poor decision making.
Until this last Tuesday I had to refrain from addressing changes in my career. I had intended to retire from my present position as a correctional officer with the Sheriff's Office of Santa Cruz County this coming February 5th. That would be my anniversary date, and I would have completed twenty years of service. Though it would be fiscally sound to continue my career into another five years, I cannot do so. I am no longer able to manage the stresses of working at the Main Jail in our jail system.
Perhaps a word of explanation. In our jail system we have three facilities. The Blaine Street Women's Facility is not an aspect of the career of male officers. Males being in charge of an exclusively female facility just opens up to many potential legal issues, and the county just does not want to take such risks.
Two other facilities make up the work place options for male officers, as well as female. The south county Sheriff's Rountree Facility is comprised of two jails. One is a minimum security facility, the other a medium. Inmates assigned to these two facilities are selected due to having less serious charges, less propensity toward violence, and a higher probability of responding positively to offered programs of training and education. This is the facility at which I have worked for the past three years, and at which I have served two other terms of service. Almost half of my career has been served at the Rountree Facility.
My career began at the Main Jail. This is where all arrestees are brought for processing. Many are housed there pending court appointments. Some are sentenced to remain there either for whole sentences or pending transportation to prison. Some of these inmates are mentally ill. Most are anti-social and a significant percentage are disgruntled at being arrested and being held prisoner. It is a threatening environment, and all too often violent.
The job is challenging, sometimes rewarding, and even occasionally fun. The constant threat of violence is stressful, and over time that stress takes a toll. For some the opportunity to work in a support position or move up to supervision reduces the constant tension due to directly supervising inmates. For all, however, the stress is a constant factor.
For me, the stress has reduced my capacity for patience with unbearable people. Not simply irritating people, but mentally twisted people who use bad behavior to strike out at those who hold them prisoners. Occasionally, and all too frequently, violence must be used to control and contain these people. Applying such violence with steady nerves is challenging. Trying to apply such controlled violence with frayed nerves is dangerous.
I received news this last Friday stating that I was being transfered to the Main Jail on the 15th of this month. I spent the weekend contemplating my own mental condition and the challenges such a transfer would present. I talked with my wife. On Monday I requested permission to remain at the Rountree Facility for the few months until my planned retirement date in February. That request was denied.
On Tuesday I submitted my letter of resignation. I am retiring on Friday 13, 2009, completing my career in corrections after nearly twenty years of service.
I really don't know what comes next. Our reserve funds will carry us well enough to find another job. As to finding a "next career," that may take a little longer. Part-time work and schooling? Perhaps. I have a few thoughts, but none to share this soon.
Am I afraid? A little. Am I excited? Yes, surprisingly so. Am I optimistic? Yes, I am confident that we as a family will get through this and make it work.
For those who are interested I shall be posting as things go forward. This may be fun!