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Remember sacrifices of dedicated correctional officers

During these difficult times of managing the COVID-19 virus, I have read, heard, and seen many activities thanking groups for their dedicated work in the prevention and treatment of infected individuals, and we need to continue to support their work and activities.

Jim Davis

With that said, no one ever mentions those dedicated jail and correctional officers and institutional medical staff who are faced with the prevention and treatment of inmates and staff who have the COVID-19 virus, ignoring the risks to themselves and their families.

Over the past months, these dedicated jail and correctional officers and medical staff have been surrounded by inmates who have been infected with the virus. The only protection for them is a mask; you can forget social distancing when you are surrounded by 200 to 1,000 inmates daily who do not care about your health and will intentionally spit, cough, or throw urine or feces on you.

I have observed jail and correctional facilities and their staff for close to 40 years and have observed the most dedicated, hard-working, and committed individuals. Never receiving any recognition for their thankless job of protecting society from those who break our laws every day from simply failing to appear in court to violent murders and sexually related crimes.

I have never heard or observed any recognition for their work, no parades, no meals, or mention of them in any newspaper, radio, or television thanking them for the good job they do every day. These jail and correctional officers are the most silent unappreciated workers in helping to prevent the spread of the virus and treatment of individuals who are infected with the virus and the protection of our society.

These jail and correctional officers work in a confined setting for 24 hours a day with the fear of contracting the virus. They have to physically shake-down inmates and if needed physically restrain them, constantly being around inmates who will harm you, or threaten your family. They continuously are dealing with inmates with mental health issues and violent behaviors, with no recognition and on a minimal salary. Those officers that I know who have had the virus have recovered from it, immediately return to work even with the possibility of contracting it again. These individuals are committed and fully dedicated to an unappreciated profession by society and our community.

All I am asking is that if you know a jail or correctional officer or a corrections medical employee, please thank them for the job they are doing to protect society in dealing with the COVID-19 virus and protecting society and this community every day. They deserve much better.

JIM DAVIS is the Superintendent of the Piedmont Regional Jail. He can be reached by email at jhdavis@prjva.org.