Encouragement from Outside the Wall

Poetry by Jacqueline Jackson 

As I Think About…Thank You for Being Such a Hero

As I think about the way that you care for those in your custody regardless of their deeds or actions toward you, I am grateful to know that if I were to ever position myself in the same way that others have, you would care for me with the same respect and professionalism. This is truly admirable and worthy of honor. Thank you for being such a hero.

As I think about those you have advised not to pass this way again and given instruction to, I am moved by your investment in others and your concern for them and their future, despite their disregard for you. So many need the words of surety you offer. You are a picture of Christ to them and to me. This is worthy of applause and gratitude. Thank you for being such a hero.

As I think about a man in our city that has a little daughter who knows that her daddy only gets sober when he goes to jail, I’m thankful he has a keeper who demonstrates the truth to him. Thank you for keeping him in as he is positioned for repentance with an opportunity to change before he goes home again. While he’s with you, he cannot come at his daughter in a drunken rage. She receives the sweetest letters while he is in jail and he talks to her so kindly on the phone. She may not know to express her thanks to you, but I do. Thank you for being such a hero.

As I think about the subject who tried to choke you, I marvel at the recovery and endurance God has given you and how you continue to treat the subject with dignity, serve him his food, give him clean clothes, and pray for his success. It is your humble service from day to day and a lesson to us all. Thank you for being such a hero.

As I think about the mom in our county that had the opportunity to get sober for the last month while in your custody, I recall that she’s been to jail countless times before. I wonder how you keep from growing cold and loosing hope in all humanity. I’m so sorry I haven’t thought more about what you face. Your patience with me concerning my disregard for you is as moving as your thoughtful treatment of her as she undergoes detox once again. I respect you greatly. Thank you for being such a hero.

As I think about the gang members on the street that get brought into your custody, I consider the extra element of uncertainty, pressure, and danger this brings to your work and the need for discernment as you decide where new arrivals belong. I know God can help you understand the symbolism of the markings you must scrutinize, give you wisdom to see past the lies, and prompt you with the perfect question to break their sworn silence. I appreciate your diligence. Thank you for being such a hero.



Happy Mother’s Day

My Mom is a Corrections Officer.

She’s at work inside the wall this Mother’s Day.

Protecting our society

From those who have gone astray.

I’d like her to have some special things.

But they’re not in my power to give

But Lord, I know you can.

She needs them to truly live.

Would you remind her of your peace?

Would you give her an awareness of your love?

Would you boost her with your strength?

Would you comfort her with your hope?

Would you cheer her by your grace?

Would you console her with quiet?

Would you bless her with rest?

Would you grant her recovery?

Would you assure her with your security?

Would you banish all her fears?

Would you assuage her pain?

Would you relieve her cares?

Thank you Lord.

I know I can depend on you.

This is sure to be her best Mother’s Day ever,

As you lovingly see her through.

Corrections Officers: Heroes and Heroines.

You have my utmost respect and admiration.

The Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary defines hero as “a man of distinguished valor, intrepidity or enterprise in danger” and defines heroine as “a female hero; a woman of a brave spirit.”

Brave: Courageous; bold; daring; intrepid; fearless of danger.

Distinguished: Separated from others by superior or extraordinary qualities; whence, eminent;

Valor: Strength of mind in regard to danger; that quality which enables a man to encounter danger with firmness; personal bravery; courage; intrepidity; prowess.

Intrepidity: Fearlessness; fearless bravery in danger; undaunted courage or boldness.

Enterprise: That which is undertaken or attempted to be performed; a project attempted; particularly, a bold, arduous or hazardous undertaking, either physical or moral.

Danger: Peril; risk; hazard; exposure to injury, loss, pain or other evil.

extraordinary; transcendent; noted; famous; celebrated.

I Talked to Him Today About You

I talked to Him about you today

Amidst the challenges, troubles, and woe

I asked Him to comfort and see you through

And help you to onward go.

I talked to Him about you today

With no friend to comfort by your side

Raising your children all alone

I asked Him to help you in Him to confide

I talked to Him about you today

While you walked your beat

I asked Him to keep you safe

And soon give you due retreat

I talked to Him about you today

I asked Him to give you inner peace and grace

Lasting hope, a simple smile

And strength for all you face

I talked to Him about you today

I prayed for you to take His hand

I asked Him to wipe your falling tears

And help you His purpose to understand.

Just Noticing

I know you are tired today

So tired you can barely see straight

You have done your job behind the wall flawlessly

In the midst of constant danger

You have demonstrated courage and compassion

Far beyond the level displayed by common humanity

Thank you.


Thank you

Correctional Officers

For serving and protecting

Every second

Of every minute

Of every hour

Of every day

Of every month

Of every year

Today I Prayed for You

Today I prayed for you because you are on duty and I realize you may…

be at a higher risk of physical harm.

face more confrontations than yesterday.

get stuck with an infected needle during a cell search.

wonder if you will make it home alive tonight.

have feces and urine thrown on you.

wonder “Does anyone care?”

be threatened personally with physical harm.

have no relief from constant noise.

witness a suicide or attempted suicide.

respond to another officer’s call for help.

be the one in the control tower.

find an inmate dead in his cell.

see, hear, smell, and feel that which you do not wish on anyone.

put out a fire that resulted from arson.

be locked in a cell alone with an inmate.

be on a slippery slope.

not have recovered from the incidents of yesterday.

experience equipment failure.

witness a riot.

be involved in a cell extraction that goes bad.

give food and clothes to an inmate convicted of raping and killing a little girl.

be unarmed among those who are armed.

be called on to work over tonight.

see someone else being harmed or threatened.

encounter dead or mutilated bodies.

be short-staffed again today resulting in a more dangerous offender to staff ratio.

need to assist a combative offender who has worked out every day for the last year.

be contemplating suicide.

be in the fight of your life.

have struggled to sleep again last night.

feel numb inside.

feel helpless.

be experiencing depression and anxiety.

find no relief from your mind.

be tempted to compromise.

fall prey to inmate manipulation.

be wondering how you will make it another day.

Today I prayed for you because I realize that your work tends to affect your off-duty time. You are outside of the city of corrections but you may…

be having difficulty relating to your family.

find nothing to laugh about.

be reluctant to socialize or go to public places.

not be able to think of anything positive.

wonder why no one seems to care.

have a hard time getting motivated.

use alcohol or drugs to attempt to cope with traumatic work experiences.

not be motivated to exercise.

wonder why you don’t feel things anymore.

be sad and lonely.

experience extreme fatigue.

have difficulty thinking and remembering things.

be full of pain and fear.

think you are unable to confide in anyone.

be cold or find it difficult to reach out to God.

just sit and stare.

Today I prayed for you because…

I appreciate the continued sacrifice you make on my behalf by doing the job you do.

I know that corrections work costs you and your family.

I want you to know that there is hope in Jesus Christ.

I wanted God to bless you and pour out His favor on your life.

I believe you are worthy of honor.

America needs you to continue to do the job you do.

I hoped you would be aware of God’s presence with you today.

Today I prayed and thanked God that…

You and your crew successfully de-escalated dozens of events without significant

incident using only verbal judo.

An incident in the yard was handled without any serious harm.

No one escaped last night.

Your entire shift remained safe and went home after work.

You found contraband in a cell search.

The last cell extraction went smoothly.

You were able to help a coworker see a solution to a problem.

Always on the Watch

Even when off duty

He is always on his guard

The reason is simple to see

He works in a prison yard

There he can trust no one

He must always watch his back

He can never be lulled to thinking

That him they won’t attack

So when he’s out in public

Just give him a little break

He is a Corrections Officer

Always on the watch for our sake



A Note to a Corrections Officer:

I missed you in church today, dear minister of God for Good, but I knew why you were not there. You were protecting me as you worked inside the gate. I sincerely say, thank you.

I knew that while I sang the hymns of the faith, the things you might have been subject to at that very moment could have been bringing you pain. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you. As I sang the words that brought comfort to my spirit, I prayed that God would assure you of His presence and lovingly see you thru. I sincerely say, thank you.

Later the preacher opened the Word of God and taught plainly from the pages, once again I thought of you behind the wall serving the Blessed Rock of Ages. I sincerely say, thank you.


In My Mind’s Eye

Your son was in my class today

I watched his falling tear

We had a parent’s party

He was wishing you were here

Your department said you had no choice

Staying over was mandatory

“I hope to be there next time son”

Was your familiar returning story

He does not yet understand

That you are kept at work again

Someone has to stay on the watch

And keep the offenders in

I tried to offer him consolation

And told him you were a hero to us all

I told him I was thankful for the work you do

Each day inside the wall

Corrections work has its prices

There are many I see who pay

Thank you for making the sacrifices

And keeping us safe another day


Reasons I Prayed for You Corrections Officer

A police officer arrested a man today for sodomite acts with a boy your son’s age. I thought of you. He is now locked away and I know that now you will be giving him clean clothes and feeding him. You will take him to visitation, nurse visits and to see his attorney. Every day you will serve and protect him as a part of your duty. I’m aware that you may even have to hear the crimes he committed rehearsed. I prayed for you. I know he won’t be hurting any more children while he’s behind the wall. Thank you.

I heard about the guy who was finally apprehended after a long police chase. The criminal was armed and dangerous. He assaulted the arresting officer. I thought of you immediately because I knew the police officer would be transferring him to your custody soon. Now you will encounter the offender every day at work. I appreciate that because you are on your watch, this man is kept inside the gate until the time he owes is served. I prayed for you. Thank you.

My brother is in prison today. I want you to know I understand that he deserves the punishment. He is guilty of the crimes. He broke the laws of the land. I’m more than ashamed that now you, my heroes, must deal with the daily antics and attitude of my very kin. I’m praying for you, and I thank you.


For Your Day Off

For your day off,

This I sincerely pray,

That you would be able to fully recover,

From all the things you’ve seen and felt and heard.

Thank you for your service and sacrifice.