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Trial Service Year – P001

May 19th, 2009 No comments

I’m late after only two weeks! I told myself I’d make a post each Monday, and here it is Tuesday – worse still, my daughter sent me an email telling me to get off my apathy and get to work. Though I saw plenty of sparkles this past week, I didn’t make the time to comment. So, I’m now making the time to comment on one of the primary purposes of this blog, i.e., corrections as a function of our criminal justice system.

Previously, I mentioned that Ted Conover’s New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing played an important role in my desire to publish this blog. New Jack, in short, is the story of Ted Convover’s trial service year as a corrections officer in the New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS). I wanted to serve at least a year in a maximum security prison and compare the experience. I plied my trade during my trial service year in the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC). Part of this blog will be a comparison of my trial service year to Conover’s trial service year. There are some disturbing similarities and differences. More common however, is the day to day grind like any other job.

Once the initial trial service year has been compared, I plan to move on to a more robust discussion of the prison experience here in Oregon. Conover mentions, and most experienced corrections officers and management personnel make it plain, that becoming a seasoned officer requires 2-5 years of service on the job. This may seem a peculiar research method, but I liked the idea and admired Conover’s courage to step into a job he may have been ill suited to perform.

Generally, I’ll follow Conover’s lead in being marginally chronological in the telling of the tale; however, I’ll also take some excursions away from the time line to develop other ideas and experiences. Conover opens his book with what might be taken as a typical arrival at work – and a stark description of all the fear and angst he claims officers feel when they arrive. He also includes a clear and compelling description and short history of Sing Sing, New York’s third prison. I’ll also hunt down some history for my prison experience, but I’ll also try to limit any bibliographical material to that which I’ve actually read and used in my writing.

I’ll see you at the front gate by next week.

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