The local jail’s leader gave thanks and food to those who do the work in connection with a national celebration of the professionals who guard the country’s prisoners.
As National Correctional Officers and Employees Week reached its crest Friday, Southside Regional Jail Superintendent Col. Karen Craig said it was vitally important to recognize the work of the staff at the facility, from the administrators to the officers, a staff she said which brings her pride daily.
“We have a phenomenal staff here at the Southside Regional Jail,” Craig said. “I’m very proud of the staff here at the jail and the work they do.”
The week began Wednesday, with another staff breakfast, and decorations in the form of wreaths created by Administrative Assistant Linda Clements and Nursing Supervisor Brenda Justice. Friday, Craig put out another breakfast for her staff, some of which she cooked herself, and said even that wasn’t enough.
“This is our first year doing this,” Craig, who became Superintendent at the facility in 2014, said. “Next year we hope to do something every day of the week for the staff.”
National Correctional Officers and Employees Week is not a new idea, having been designated by Proclamation of U.S. President Ronald Reagan on May 5, 1984. At the time, Reagan suggested the week be celebrated with ceremonies and activities designed to recognize correctional professionals for the service they provide to their communities.
The “Employees,” portion of the week’s title was added by Congress in 1996.
Craig said she was discouraged to see it had taken over 30 years since Reagan’s proclamation for the week, which runs from Wednesday, May 4 through May 10, to really take hold and gain traction, but now that Southside Regional is involved, she’s looking to ramp up the proceedings and give the staff their due.
“I know law enforcement officer get recognized for what they do, and prison officers, which people think of when they hear correctional officers, have been involved in this week for a while,” Craig said. “But jail officers are kind of in-between. They have to be involved in a multitude of tasks, and I feel they often don’t get the recognition they deserve.”
From the administrators, who Craig said have to “wear many hats,” to the staff in the back dealing with the inmates, who Craig said “often go nonstop from the time they get here until the time they leave,” everyone deserves to know she understands and appreciates their contribution.
“I just really wanted to show my appreciation,” Craig said. “A lot of times in this business we get so caught up in fixing negatives that we forget to recognize the positives. But I’m very proud of this staff and I’m really honored to be their Superintendent.”