'Prison Guards Can Never Be Weak': The Hidden PTSD Crisis in America's Jails

Michael Van Patten’s 18-year-old son came home to find his dad crouching on the kitchen floor, gun in hand, a nearly empty bottle of gin by his side, tears running down his cheeks. Trevor grabbed the weapon, ran up to his room, shut the door and didn’t speak to his dad – or anyone – about the incident for 13 years.
For Michael, this was the build-up of nearly three decades working as a corrections officer at the Oregon state penitentiary. “The only way I knew how to deal with it was to eat a bullet.”
There is little awareness of how the culture of endemic violence in prisons affects the correction officers who interact with prisoners. But with over 2 million prisoners and around half a million COs, it is a widespread and underreported problem.



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