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  • Writer's pictureLocal 685 Executive Board

Can I Vent?

by Stacy Ford, Camps VP


One Friday afternoon, I spent a few hours in units X and Y at BJNJH. But before I could get into the facility while getting out of my car, a DSO approached and greeted me. We talked briefly, and then he expressed frustration about being held over three shifts straight: 6-2 and then 2-10. He shared how tired he was. He said, “I worked a 16-hour shift for three days without a break.” He was almost in tears. I hugged him and shook his hand. I suggested he take care of himself.

As I walked into the facility, I met a GSN who had been held over from the 10-6 shift. He immediately expressed frustration about being held over and not being home in time to transport his children to school. We discussed this and some options. I shook his hand and entered the facility. As I checked in and picked up a facility key, I met two more officers who wanted to speak. They had questions about negotiations. I sat in the key center and answered all their negotiation questions. They now had a better understanding of why we are delayed. Finally, after an hour and 30 minutes of speaking with my sisters and brothers, I reached movement and control.

As I stood in movement and control watching them do their work, I moved over to the monitors and viewed what was happening in the compound units. Unit X was having issues, so I walked over there to see what was happening. When I entered the unit, I was met by several DPOs who were overwhelmed, to say the least. I spoke with them one by one. They were glad to see me but expressed how defeated they felt. I was committed to helping them in any way I could. I took a few notes and then went on to unit Y.

By now, the time is nearing 7:30 pm. On my way out, I stopped by the medical unit to speak with DSOs working there. I took notes and shared words of encouragement. On the way out, the security personnel working at the screening area wanted to speak with me. By now, it is 8:00 pm. As I sat in my car I recapped my day, which started at 9:00 am at Camp Rockey for a grievance hearing, then at Camp Afflerbaugh to meet with DPOs there for a briefing, then to Camp Paige. What I took away from my day’s work was this: Local 685 members, GSNs, DSOs, and DPOs, are stressed out.

Later as I was driving home, my phone went off. I answer it. CVK DPOs told me Camp Scudder had no hot water in the sleeping quarters. I got on the phone and started making phone calls to get help with these concerns. Thanks to your executive board’s intervention, CVK officers were given hotel vouchers until the Camp Scudder hot water situation was fixed.

Local 685 also assisted in getting an 18-year-old moved from BJN to County jail. A few days later, another 18-year-old was moved to County jail. I go into the workplace and when I call the powers to be, I can speak about what I witnessed, not what someone told me. When I called about the 18-year-old’s behavior in unit X and suggested that he be moved to County jail, there was some resistance. After speaking with other reps, we were able to get it done.

I arrived home around 10:30 pm. We got a lot done in a few days.

But this was only one day.

Sisters and Brothers, we take a lot of stuff off people. We are used and abused, and in many cases, treated like robots and not people. The expectations that are placed upon us are unrealistic. Various members of the Probation Oversight Commission say we are abusing children, the CBOs say we should be fired (or even locked up), and our managers (some of them) show us no respect. They hold us over without calling or informing us that we are being held over. Management uses deployment like a school district uses substitute teachers. It’s just crazy! Then people wonder why we call out. Our mental health is being compromised.

Sisters and Brothers, first things first. May I say this to you? I care about you. The union leadership cares about you. We care about your mental health. May I suggest a few things to help you along the way?

If you are a believer, pray for yourself, for your well-being, and for others.

  • Take care of yourself.

  • Try yoga.

  • Try breathing techniques.

  • Visit a mental health therapist.

  • Take walks (in safe places).

  • Talk about your feelings (not to the clients).

  • Exercise.

These are just a few things to help you along the way. If you have any other suggestions, please email them to me at

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