Wyoming State Penitentiary is a state maximum-security prison for men in Rawlins, Wyoming. It opened in 1980 and housed about 500 medium-security prisoners but has since seen a growth in inmates to about 665. The number of guards has not kept pace. WSP needs 247 guards yet they have only half that number. They’ve lost employees over the last two or three years to the more lucrative oil industry that until recently was doing well.

The average officer works 23 hours of mandatory overtime each month, the shortage is so bad and recruiting in Wyoming is not getting the results in applicants so they are looking to some of the higher unemployment states for help.

A recent documentary has profiled a group of 30 people who have never worked in a prison before and were given nine weeks to learn policy and procedure and emergency response tactics.

In a short time, these would be-guards must master self-defense and control techniques. It’s not for everybody and applicants must go into it with eyes wide open. After training, they are thrown right into the job with a constant threat of harassment and violence. On June 26,1997, three inmates viciously stabbed and beat a guard to death with fire extinguisher.

Inmates can be nice to you but that can turn on a dime over anything and you must remain vigilant at all times. Armed with pepper spray, guards are tested and provoked. In 2015 about a third of recruits quit within a year.

Wyoming State Penitentiary receives about 60 new inmates every month and there are programs designed to provide that “scared straight’ deterrent for many, but it is met with mixed success. While you could be working gen pop, or general population, you could end up with your first day in E Unit, the hole, which also has death row and the worst of the worst.

Sound like a job for you? Apply. I’ll pass thank you very much. I thank the professionals who are protecting us from evil and pray for your continued safety and sanity.

I was in a prison once with a radio station I worked for in Madison, Wis., and we put on a concert for prisoners and broadcast it. One of the most chilling sounds I’ve ever heard was when that iron door clangs shut and you are now totally at the mercy of others. Still spooks me to this day.

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