Former TCCO Employee; April 15, 2021
“If I only knew then what I know now”……this is a statement some of us know all too well, including me. Two and a half years and hundreds of hours later I find myself thinking this exact thought. Absolutely nothing was known about Texas Civil Commitment when I found myself desperately in need of a job to pay my bills. I thought I was going to be a correctional officer pursuing my dream of working in a prison and continuing my criminal justice education. Wearing a uniform and an ID as a TST for Correct Care, I was totally all for being a good officer and trying to learn and move up in rank. Trained one way to be and act around these Sexually Violent Predators was a script I was going to stick to. Time went on with tons of mandatory overtime, changes in staffing and rank and then a complete company change in May 2019 to MTC. Still wanting to learn and move up, I tried hard to improve and impress a very strict captain and literally cried tears to a wonderful sergeant. Over time I became more human and was often told I was too nice, too friendly with the residents, even accused of being compromised. This was probably the beginning of the end even if I didn’t see it then. I watched as the favoritism took over my shift and voiced my opinion quietly at first to no avail. The laziest, rudest, loudest officers received the best treatment, easiest posts, and the promotions. The residents would joke and comment and I found myself agreeing. I was told countless times I was different and kind, appreciated and that when I was on a pod they didn’t stress out. I made myself learn every post and position so I would be prepared when a spot opened and I was going for it. I did and I was overlooked time and time again. I was criticized by rank and higher ups for being emotional and caring, but at the same time my residents praised me for treating them human; yes HUMAN. I heard gossip amongst coworkers about me and others constantly, the residents knew all the scoop and would tell it. I was introduced to this site by a resident and found myself reading and wanting to learn more and more about TCCO. The more I learned and saw the more I questioned my presence at the facility, but I needed a paycheck and I worked long hours doing a good job. Then BAM COVID hits. The whole atmosphere and environment changed overnight. Mass confusion, emotions, filth, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, you name it was affecting staff and residents. I was no longer an officer trying to enforce rules, I was a human trying to comfort grown men crying in a locked cell afraid of sickness, disease and dying. I rode in ambulances and sat by hospital beds countless times watching men die. I spent more hours at work than at home and cried almost daily in the medroom and breakroom. Administration and rank offered little to no help, no mental counseling, no time off, no understanding, nothing all the while TCCO workers stayed home safe leaving the mess behind gates and fences and locked doors. But we got thru it y’all, we did. Things are slowly getting more routine and treatment resumed. Somewhere in the middle of all the mess though, I knew I had changed. I saw many men that were long overdue a chance to live and I learned the stories. I secretly rooted of y’all to succeed and congratulated y’all when you did. I grew to become an advocate and a friend to some, which is frowned upon and viewed as improper. And now we are here. I regret that I broke my end of the deal; that I leave when y’all leave, but I had to. I take full responsibility for my actions that got me to this point, but I am HUMAN. Of course I know there are a hundred rumors going around now and I bet not one is close to the truth. I know the truth. I’m sorry I did not say goodbye. I’m sorry if I have made some feel I abandoned them. It was never my intention. I am not naïve, I understand that this place is necessary for some and serves a purpose, but I never made it secret that I felt some of you need to go HOME. Please continue to push thru and get home. And now if I knew then what I know now……some things I would do different, some not at all and some I wouldn’t change a thing.