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'It's hard not to take it home'

August 12, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

Fourteen years ago, Glen Munson needed a job. But there was a recession, and jobs were scarce, he said.

"I was leery about taking this one," said Munson, who went to work at the Roxbury Correctional Institution as a correctional officer.

He stays at the prison because the longer he works, the more rank he'll earn and the larger his retirement checks will be, said the Hancock native who now lives in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Even though he's worked at RCI for more than a decade, the Army veteran is still a little leery.

"If you're not scared a little bit, you're more or less lying," he said. "Especially now, with gangs coming in."

Inmates wear gang colors and flash gang signs among themselves, he said.

"Maybe the public think it's just on TV or in big cities," but in the last eight to 10 years, gangs emerged in the Hagerstown prisons, Munson said.

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Correctional officers now deal with a different kind of inmate: They are young, and serving relatively short prison sentences, he said.

"Youngsters like to make a name for themselves," Munson said.

The slightest provocation can set off the prisoners.

Inmates who have committed offenses within the prison are housed in the segregation unit, which was once "tore up" because a water main broke and the inmates couldn't shower, Munson said.

One time, an inmate who was transferred to the segregation unit assaulted an officer who handed the prisoner a box in which to pack his things. The officer's eyes were swollen after the inmate attacked him with his fists, Munson said.

Munson said he can't always shake off his tension-filled days at the end of his shifts.

"If you have a bad day, it's hard not to take it home."

- Erin Julius

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