Bermuda: Prison Officers in the line of duty

Prison officer Gary Smith has seen the world of corrections change a lot in his 27 years.

When he first began patrolling the wings on November 16, 1987 the crumbling block walls of Casemates still held the Island’s most dangerous and notorious criminals.

But Mr Smith has fond memories of working inside the old prison and has never regretted his choice of career which he says he has “loved since day one”.

“Casemates was smaller and everyone was real tight-knit back then,” the 49-year-old said.

“Officers and inmates were more of a happy family. In those days the prison population was more mature too, there was less of the young guys we have today.

“But the work was harder. There was a group of prisoners called the ‘dirty dozen’ who never did anything they were told. It was tough keeping them in check.”

“Big Smith”, as he is known, lost his father when he was 10 and turned to the prison service as a 22-year-old after a short spell with the Bermuda Telephone Company.

His dedication to the job has never waned despite once being stabbed in the back by an inmate

“The job has given me a lot of satisfaction and I enjoy the camaraderie among the officers,” he added.

“You’re always learning and I have learnt a great deal from the inmates.

“Just because they are inmates does not mean they have nothing to pass on to you.

“You can have a good working relationship with an inmate, but it gets to a certain point and then it stops.

“When they leave you want them to succeed, and it can be frustrating if they end up coming back again. But to me we have to get excited about every success we have, because there may not be many.”

Mr Smith is one of the longest-serving prison officers in the department, while at the other end of spectrum prison officer Ian Armstrong has been in the job for just over a year.

This week the valuable role played by Mr Smith, Mr Armstrong and their colleagues will be recognized as part of Corrections Week.

Source: Prison officers in the line of duty | The Royal Gazette:Bermuda News

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