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'Nothing ... prepares you for this job'

July 29, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

Gus Glessner was looking for steady employment in 1975. A job as a correctional officer fit the bill.

He monitors inmates in the education department at the Maryland Correctional Institution and deals with any inmates who cause problems.

Despite his dealings with difficult inmates, Glessner feels safe, he said.

But he knows there are security threats. About two years ago, prison staffing levels were cut, including 40 correctional officer positions from the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift at MCI, he said.

He was comfortable with staffing levels before the cuts, but said he isn't anymore.

"We don't have the personnel to monitor inmates," he said. "They (inmates) can be getting away with things we wouldn't see."

He said he wonders about potential problems. If a situation breaks out, "how long will it take personnel to get to us?" he asked.

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Glessner, 58, never has been assaulted by an inmate, but he has responded to such incidents involving fellow officers. When he responds, he wonders whether the officer is injured, what to expect.

In the early 1990s, the prison housed a lot of "hotheaded" inmates who didn't listen to orders, Glessner said.

Glessner wasn't on duty when a riot broke out in 1991, but he was called in to help. He found a lot of his fellow officers injured, televisions smashed on the floor, electric panels ripped out and sinks ripped from the wall.

Now, gangs have begun causing problems in the prison, Glessner said. Gangs cause problems on the outsiden, and when gang members are arrested, the problems move inside the prison, he said.

"Nothing in life will prepare you for his job," he said.

Glessner said he wouldn't want his daughter or grandchildren to work at the prison.

"You never know what you're going to face," he said.

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