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Confinement: Behind the bars

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Working as a confinement supervisor has challenges most Airmen never experience. For the ones who do accomplish this mission, they are in the business of rehabilitating people and helping set them on the right track to succeed in life. 
While inmates are serving their sentence, they are not just sitting around. It is back to the basics. Throughout the day and in every task they are asked to complete, attention to detail is required.

"Every day is a different possibility," said Senior Airman Greyson Pasco, 341st Security Forces Squadron confinement supervisor. "Each day we have a set guideline (inmates) must follow, including when they shower and the time they have allotted to eat.

"Confinement guards also do a daily blotter that goes into great detail of what the confinees do covering the entire 24-hour day," he continued.

This strict adherence to a set schedule is the framework that keeps inmates and supervisors safe, and also serves to teach them the basics of discipline.

According to confinement personnel, for most confinees, a lack of self-control was the catalyst that brought them there in the first place.

To start this rehabilitation process, supervisors work to instill basic principles of discipline into the inmate's daily routine. Personal development and education are also included to offer additional life skills for when they are released. 

"While in confinement, confinees are allowed to go to school if they please," said Pasco. "We will set up College Level Examination Program dates with the education center on base and allow them to complete those to count towards a degree of their choice."

In addition to schooling, fitness and self-development are encouraged. The same things that keep people everywhere healthy, such as exercise, spiritual mentorship and proper eating habits are even more helpful to those who are serving a sentence, he said.

For guards, staying motivated also has a direct reflection on the attitudes and behavior of the people they watch over. Motivating internees to help themselves is a goal supervisors strive to achieve.

"What keeps me motivated is the people that I work with and seeing the difference of an inmate from the first day they walk in to the day they leave," said Staff Sgt. Brett Johnson, 341st SFS assistant NCOIC of confinement. "We spend so much time with them that the changes are evident when they walk out the door.

"With us being such a small shop, a lot of the guards also hang out together," he continued. "We are not a big shop so we have to lean on each other to accomplish tasks."

If there is unity among one another and everyone is working together to accomplish the mission, the inmates will benefit and those working to rehabilitate them will become better supervisors also, Johnson said.

"Most of the first term Airmen classes probably think we yell a lot on a day-to-day basis, however, that's not the case," said Staff Sgt. Jason Francis, 341st SFS NCOIC of confinement. "We do however want to deter our young Airmen from ending up in this facility, and we understand first impressions are very memorable and go a long way."

For Malmstrom's confinement personnel, their hope is to prevent Airmen from making mistakes that will land them in jail by showing them what it's like behind bars. 

"Even though some will still fail, we are determined to help them get back on their feet and learn to not make the same mistakes twice," said Francis. "Getting inmates back on the right path and back into society is what motivates me."