St. Petersburg Times - Jan 16, 1971
GUARDS: KEEPERS OR ADVISORS
by Martin Dyckman of the Times Staff
Only 14 years ago, a visiting college class asked a rank-and-file guard at Raiford if the prison
employed any psychiatrists.
"Naw," he replied, "we're all psychiatrists here."
Two years later, a federal grand jury accused 14 of those self-styled "psychiatrists" of
practicing cruel "therapies" such as waterhosings and tear-gasings. They were acquitted,
partly because inmate witnesses did not limit their testimony to the truth.
They are just good old cracker boys, said a perceptive state legislator.
Over the years, the Division of Corrections has tried to purge the image of Florida prison
guards as sadistic, unschooled brutes.
And the image has, in fact changed.
But the guard forces remain a conspicuously weak part of what everyone agrees should be a
The guard spends more time with the inmates than any other employee. But the guard is least
qualified to contribute to the inmate's own self-development. Because he is ill-trained and
overworked. He also is little interested in the inmate's aptitude for social redemption.
The remote, rural location of most Florida prisons restricts the manpower pool.
The pay isn't enough to retain many of the guards who are hired.
It certainly isn't enough to attract more urban men from populated centers.
A guard is paid $5,590 a year to start. Top pay is $7,618. A lieutenant starts at $6,968. Top is
These scales pale in comparison to many Florida police agencies.....especially the Highway
Patrol, where probationary troopers start at $6,968. and even conservation officers, who begin
The US Bureau of Prisons, meanwhile starts guards at $7,294.
Florida's prison's suffered a 30 per cent employee turnover last year. It would be catastrophic
rate for the industry. The rate is more than twice that of four years ago.
Replacements inevitably come from the same rural, poorly prepared manpower sources.
"In most cases," says Ball, "we have to take the first guy rather than be selective and accept
only the man who understands human beings. You take people who can pass the physical
examination and have a high school education."
Comment: RWS: In most cases the same could be said of the labor
pool in Marianna.