LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A call to action for Delaware correctional officers

Senators, Legislators, Lt. Governor and Governor,

As elected officials of the Great state of Delaware, it is your job, honor and duty to do what is right. As you sit in your cushy jobs, nice office chairs and eat your sophisticated breakfasts, think on this: My friend and coworker’s battered, tortured and broken body lies in a cold grave because you and your ilk ignored Delaware prisons and their needs.

So important was it for you to maintain your level of comfort, you killed a man. Every mouthful you take from this day forward should be tainted with his blood. While he lay in a closet begging for help, what were you doing in your high-dollar homes and expensive cars? Were you sitting in your plush living rooms watching the news unfold as my friends were beaten? Must have been so exciting for you, sitting in the safety our sacrifice provides for you and your wives, husbands and sweet little children.

Steve (Floyd)’s children no longer have a father and his grandchildren will never know his kindnesses except as stories from family and friends. His death is on your heads. His blood is on your hands. His pain and suffering were caused by all of you. For those of you who believe, what does that say for your future position in God’s house? And for those of you who don’t believe … well, these same individuals who murdered Steve have family, friends, children, and they are all out there living the same life, and Delaware is a very small state.

You’d think a person in your cushy job would want their law enforcement staff ready to lay down their lives for their leaders.

[State] Sen. Harris McDowell has committed an impeachable act. I think you should get rid of him. A man who is supposed to be imbued with the traits of honor and integrity should not be lying to hold up legislation. From the National Institute of Corrections: On average, law enforcement and correctional officers died 12 years earlier than the general population. In other words, law enforcement and corrections officers lived 62.4 years compared to 74.2 years for the general population. I am going to be 55 in May and I’ve worked for the DOC as an officer for 29 years. I gross $44,000. I can’t retire because I can’t afford to retire.

According to NICIC, I may only have a little over seven more years to live. You’ve raised my medical [insurance cost], and I was just diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Would you like to know about my fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease and colitis? Medical care is expensive. I risk my life for decent medical care … Do you all have to risk your lives in Legislative Hall?

Let’s discuss the rest of the living staff. Per NICIC.gov: “The purpose of this study was to estimate prevalence rates for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and comorbid PTSD/depression in corrections professionals, and to explore the relationship between particular disorder conditions and a variety of variables including job type and numerous indices of health, well-being, and life functioning (e.g., number of doctor visits, number of absences from work, extent of substance use, satisfaction with life, job functioning, and other variables)” (p. 4). The total number of assessment items was 152 spread over four assessment tools: Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21); Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C); Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS); and the Impact on Functioning Scale (IOFS).

“Overall, 25.7% of the respondents were depressed with 67% of them having PSTD. Security/custody personnel had the highest rates with mental health care providers being second. Those individuals with comorbid PTSD/depression experienced the worst health-related outcomes.”

The staff is ill. All of us are suffering a loss. You had them bring in dogs to pet … so chic. We can’t go to mental health care facilities because we can’t handle weapons while under psychiatric care. I won’t go to a psychiatrist because it’s all drugs, smoke and mirrors. We need the prisons repaired; we need equipment to do the job; we need the pay to make the sacrifice worthwhile and to draw decent replacements as we retire; we need a shortened career so we have a life after our time protecting you and our citizens! It’s too late for me.

I’ve done my time, and dying early is already in my cards … but for those who will be left behind … do the right things for someone besides yourselves.

Lisé Stinger

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