Letter to the Editor

Recognize Correctional Employees' Week

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To the Editor:

Every day, men and women across Indiana don a uniform and voluntarily enter a place where most citizens never want to go -- a correctional facility.

Behind the wired fences and steep walls of such facilities live offenders who broke laws and threatened society, sometimes violently and with no remorse. Undoubtedly, the work environment of a prison system is unlike many other professions, with a unique set of challenges and few rewards.

Nevertheless, while the corrections field may not be glamorous, those working in it deserve the thanks and appreciation of all Hoosiers for their vigilance and dedication to public safety.

With that in mind, I ask all Hoosiers to join me in recognizing and celebrating Correctional Employees' Week, May 4-11, 2009. Correctional professionals deal with the most violent and unstable people day in and day out, yet too often, they are only publicly recognized when something negative occurs.

However, any such instances of staff misconduct are the exceptions to the rule. Indeed, the vast majority of correctional workers show up to work, including holidays and weekends, to patrol the offender cell blocks and dormitories, screen facility visitors, provide substance abuse treatment, prepare offenders for their re-entry back into society, and do the other numerous tasks involved with keeping a facility running smoothly.

As commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction, I cannot fully express how proud I am of the department's 7,323 employees who do so much for their cities and our great state. Truly, the corrections profession works as a team, made up of a staff of correctional officers, administration, clerical, maintenance, education, counselors, physical plant, classification, and many others.

Moreover, our team would not be successful at providing public safety and promoting re-entry without integral community partnerships. Countless volunteers take time to provide assistance to offenders within a facility, and there are many partners who assist with the offender re-entry effort on the outside.

Truly, to achieve both the protection of the public and the successful re-entry of offenders, the department cannot do it alone.

So, I ask all Hoosiers to be a part of our team and extend thanks and gratitude to all correctional workers throughout the state.

Edwin G. Buss

Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction