By Scott Salley
I truly am humbled and honored to address the graduating 130th corrections basic recruitment class. Beginning tonight we will share a common bond, one that many of you in this room have earned—a bond that has allowed you to witness, observe, interact, and train and test for a dangerous profession. Your graduation tonight is more than a milestone in your career. It is an “open door” for many other possibilities. However, those same opportunities in your career are competitive and require an enormous amount of determination for fulfilling.
As some of the graduates anxiously wait for this ceremony to end, they have concerns about the future—questions regarding job placement, career paths, numerous “what ifs” associated with corrections, and, finally, what tomorrow will bring. These all are valid concerns that these graduates struggle with at this time. All I can suggest to you is patience! Communities across the United States demand the availability of well-trained and honorable corrections officers in the near future.
Corrections is a noble profession. With that statement you must understand that some people will dislike you for what you represent. Do not take it personally. To survive in this volatile environment, I suggest each of you to remain in top shape—educationally, physically, and emotionally. With this same mentality, your philosophy should be tightly wrapped with a “blanket” of honesty and unrelenting integrity. While on duty do only those things that you would do in front of your mother.
There will be inmates who spend most of their time planning how to destroy your intrinsic values. Do not fall for this type of unacceptable behavior. Ironically, you may be placed in a position to protect these same inmates during their incarceration period. Understand clearly that our society expects a much higher standard of conduct from you because you now are the authority.
Courage and fairness represent predominant characteristics of a grounded corrections professional. You are expected to treat inmates—including their family members, legal counsel, visitors, and others—with fairness, respect, and dignity while you display courage in the performance of your sworn duty. As you prepare to graduate tonight, hopefully, each of you will recognize the fact that you have entered a profession that is stressful and capable of causing a hazardous lifestyle both on and off duty.