Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Guards Face Abuse At Inmates' Hands.

Byline: Mike Gallagher Journal Investigative Reporter

Paying for Time

Little Respect

* Assaults both verbal and physical make low-paying job even tougher

Inmates call it a "cocktail" a mixture of urine and feces mixed in a paper cup or plastic bag.

The target is usually a corrections officer who gets too close to the food slot of a cell door, but occasionally an inmate who really wants to cause trouble will target a food cart.

Officially, officers are not allowed to retaliate against an inmate who splashed them with a "cocktail."

But they do.

The inmate's foot or hand might get caught in the cell door when it closes. Or the retaliation can be less physical no showers for a few weeks, spit on a breakfast tray or simply forgetting to supply toilet paper.

Inmates have other tricks to relieve their boredom. A group of prisoners might "throw the crazy" at a new officer silently stare at the officer for hours. Or they will pester the officer with requests to see a doctor, nurse or chaplain.

"It is a psychological game, and it wears you out," said Frank Gallegos, president of the Albuquerque Officers Association. "It changes you as a person, and most of those changes aren't very nice."

Officers assigned to walk through inmate living units, whether a group of cell pods or a dormitory, are known as "floor dogs."

They are responsible for giving inmates mail and food, overseeing distribution of medication and escorting inmates to their visits. They inspect the cells and make sure inmates keep the area clean.

And they count the inmates.

It is a job that doesn't pay very well $6.45 to $10 an hour to start, depending on the jail. Most officers work a lot of overtime, which swells the paychecks but burns them out. …

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