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Corrections officers deserve our respect

Some jobs are easier than others. One job that’s definitely in the “others” category is a prison corrections officer.

Consider that a CO has to deal with a population that’s probably not the easiest and most cooperative, and is one that requires a constant amount of diligence and oversight.

Case in point: the incidence that took place Saturday when a maximum security prisoner assaulted a Michigan Department of Corrections officer at Marquette Branch Prison.

The MDOC said the officer was releasing prisoners from their cells into the prison yard when the attack took place. The prisoner stabbed and punched the officer in the face and head as she defended herself, but fortunately, fellow officers responded and swiftly got the prisoner away from the officer who was knocked to the ground.

Also fortunate was the fact that the officer was discharged from a hospital later in the day.

Many jobs are dangerous, but being in charge of a prison population has to be near the top of the list.

Safety measures, obviously, are in place. According to the MDOC website, security at Marquette Branch Prison includes security walls, double chain link fence, gun towers and an armed patrol vehicle.

However, prison employees can’t have complete control over every single situation. You would need one corrections officer for every prisoner.

In fact, late in 2020, members of the Michigan Corrections Organization protested along U.S. 41 South in Marquette to address what it said was ongoing staffing shortages for corrections officers.

MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz said at the time that money was a factor in not filling all the vacancies.

That’s a familiar refrain in government and other parts of society these days, and the COVID-19 pandemic has added another challenge.

We’re glad to hear Saturday’s incident, though, wasn’t worse, and that’s a credit to the fellow officers whose quick response helped the officer in need.

As far as staffing shortages go, that’s probably something that will have to continue to be addressed. And, of course, safety still should be of the utmost importance in prison.

Speaking of safety, people should know they can get real-time MDOC alerts.

Michigan residents can receive critical public safety alerts from the Michigan Department of Corrections through a new community notification system designed to provide real-time information via text, email and social media.

The department is using Nixle, a mass communications platform, to share alerts regarding emergency situations, training exercises and other important events with state residents.

Schools, local governments and businesses can also sign up to receive alerts.

Alerts can be targeted geographically or sent statewide, and can be delivered via email, text, voice messages, the internet, social media and the Nixle mobile app.

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