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Wrap up: Advice on working with female inmates

As with any inmate population, there are challenges when it comes to working with female inmates. It’s up to each officer to weigh the pros and cons and see if the opportunity is right for them.


AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool

By Anthony Gangi, C1 Columnist

For some, just the mention of working in a female facility can send a shiver up their spine. They listen to the rumors and form a belief that, when compared to the men, female inmates can be more problematic. So, for last week’s scenario, we decided to see if the rumors were true.

We posted a scenario which gave an officer a chance to choose between working in a female facility or a male facility. Here are some of the responses that were provided that might help the officer make their decision.

Men vs. Women
While there’s always the fear of working with the opposite sex, there are also other concerns that lyt1973 mentions.

“As a male I would definitely say, stand down! Do not go to a female facility. There are some benefits in doing so as a female. You will learn those policies as women challenge more. They are more vocal with their issues than physical. Yet for a male it leaves you open to too many darn lawsuits and grievances. I don’t know about the state you are in, but men are not allowed to work in the units in Michigan. Therefore, space for them is very limited,” he writes. “You don’t get much overtime as a male either. As a woman you can have all you need. I would say stay within the walls of a male facility as a male. It’s safer for you and your career if you plan on having one in Corrections.”

MICC Dawg also writes, “I’ve worked all males, all females, and believe it or not, a co-ed facility, and I although I never felt unsafe with the females, I preferred working with male offenders; less writing, far less talking, and real problems absorbed most of my attention. By real problems, I mean it is so much more difficult addressing female offenders because I figured I might unintentionally say the wrong thing, and someone would run with it; whereas with males, I could focus on the problem completely, and felt no need to rehearse what I’d say. I self-created concerns that probably weren’t really significant by overthinking what I’d say.”

Walking On Eggshells?
Cuff Up, who has worked with both male and female offenders, writes, “I have worked both with male inmates and female inmates. I can tell you that with male inmates it is straight to the point; of course you are going to have more dangers and UOF, but that’s just the way it is.

“With female inmates, on the other hand, you have to watch what you say and how you say it. Always keep yourself in camera view, try to have a partner with you if you can and document, document, document. CYA is the key. Never get caught up the games. Because all a female inmate has to do is accuse you of doing wrong. Then you are guilty until proven innocent… I’d rather deal with the male inmates and the hour drive to prepare for the day and then to decompress when you have those crappy days.”

Excelfolife, who also has experience in working at both types of facilities, writes, “All I can say is I started my career in a female institution. I spent 5 years there as a male CO. You have to be very careful working with females. They will lie and push limits a lot more than male inmates and then when they get caught in their games they want to cry and say they feel you are intimidating them.”

In contrast, lyt1973 mentions, “Oh males are just as needy, let’s not get things twisted. Males are simply needy when it comes to us as females. They are forever making up reasons to have something to say to you. They are JUST as manipulative as the women.”

There’s Some Good, Too
But let’s take a look at things from another perspective: When you bring to mind that corrections is always evolving, working in a different setting provides the officer with an opportunity for growth and development.

Wjeddry writes, “Although the dynamics of working with incarcerated females is very different, it would be a great opportunity for Officer Smith. Not only would he be closer to home, but he might find that it’s not as bad as he thinks. Everyone brings something different to the job and everyone’s experiences are different. I find that the women often behave better when I’m working with a male officer. I would tell Officer Smith that if he’s ready for the challenge and the learning curve, to go for it!”

Indeed, this could be a great opportunity. Also, one’s personal experience may be different then someone else’s. It would be great for Officer Smith to accept the new position and discover, on his own, what it would truly be like working in a female facility.

These training scenarios are intended to draw the reader into the discussion and create a repository of differing viewpoints on a single subject. These scenarios are intended for training purposes only. Though the scenarios are drawn from real-world incidents, no one scenario talks about a specific person or place. If you have questions or ideas for a training scenario, email