Afterword  (January 2006)

A huge majority of the guards at Ford Mountain were, given the fact it is a jail, reasonable, fair, and generally conscientious workers: I think of people like Messers. Brown, Jones, Magee, Epp, Fenson, Buchanan, Papineau, Madden, Polden, and even Mr. Gamme who was a bit of a stickler for petty rules, and Ms. Hansen and the other female officers. The guards were clearly father figures for many of the young inmates. This is not to say that these guards weren’t sometimes ignorant and officious which one would expect in their kind of work. I assume they freely chose the profession. The only guards I would complain about were Mr. Palmer, whom I found to be pompous, insensitive and very arrogant, and my case manager Mr. Engh who appeared afflicted by depression, lacked the social skills to be an effective guard, and would probably be happier in another line of work. The only staff member I developed a dislike for was Mr. Grypuik whom I found to be insincere and partial. Many inmates would strongly disagree with my assessment of Mr. Grypuik who was in a position to be helpful to inmates dealing with the parole board and internal discipline. He had a personality that a solid criminal could admire. I had little use for the three psychologists employed at the camp. They are largely a waste of money, but are an expected component in the treatment of SO’s. However forensic shrinks are generally in an ethically compromised situation being beholden to the interests of the correctional system which pays their fees, interests which may not be in harmony with serving the best interests of the inmates and society. That is about as nicely as I can put it.

I did not have a chance to get to know any of the staff at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, nor was I tempted to. Most of the guards there seemed to be distinctly unpleasant people, which reflected the overall character of the place. Maximum security, where any conceivable threat requires countermeasures and rigid control, must be very hard on the guards. The ones who survive may not be the best. Perhaps as has been said about social workers: The best ones burn out in a few years, and you end up with what is left. Maximum security must be as different for guards as it is for inmates. I remember one FRCC guard giving a randywhite type, law and order, pro capital punishment speech to the skinhead cleaner crew. It was surreal. While I was in Ford Mountain one guard, Mr. Madden was promoted to a job at FRCC, and inmates made an elaborate memento plaque complete with moving parts in the Hobby Shop as a farewell gift. Inmates celebrated again a few months later when he returned. Other guards who had worked at both places said that they much preferred working at Ford Mountain.


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