Before becoming a Deputy, I got my start in the prison system. I can’t speak to every prison, but I do know my own experiences and those of the officers around me.
In a nutshell, none of us really gave a crap why people were in prison. What you were in for really didn’t matter. We didn’t care. What we cared about was how you acted while you were in prison.
Imagine two inmates.
Person A is in prison for murdering 50 people in a massive postal style shooting. While in prison, he is being polite, respectful, he does everything the guards ask of him, keeps his living space clean, has good hygiene, and breaks no rules or causes no trouble.
Person B is in prison for something stupid. Growing Marijuana, or stealing his grandmother’s car, or whatever. Make up whatever crime you think is the dumbest reason to go to prison and imagine that one. He is somebody that we would have NEVER said deserved to go to prison for this crime. But while he’s incarcerated, he is an absolute problem, every day. He won’t shower. He won’t clean up. He wipes his feces on the walls. He wants to fight, every single day, and will not do anything we need him to do unless we get physical. When we feed him, we then need to fight him just to get the empty meal tray back. When we wrestle around restraining him, he will always start urinating, to make sure to cover us with his urine even though he can’t physically stop himself from being restrained. He’ll spit in your face, he’ll punch you in the back of the head, he will take any cheap shot he can to intentionally cause as much problems as he can for as long as he is there.
You’re a working stiff with a wife and a mortgage and a couple of kids. When you go to work, which one of these two inmates do you hate dealing with more?
The new guys sometimes started out trying to judge people based on what they did, but very quickly anyone who made a career of corrections realized that we really didn’t care what people did; we cared about how they act.
I’ll take a polite murderer over a discipline issue any day, regardless of the guy’s crime.