It’s no secret I was incarcerated for 120 days in the Greene County Justice Center. After being there for less than two months, I was offered and accepted the position of Trustee: I would help with meals, cleaning, and laundry for the 40-50 inmates I was housed with.
Before my “employment” began, I looked at the correction officers the same way most other inmates did: the nice ones and the mean ones. The joke was always that the mean ones were the ones that were picked on in high school and wanted a bit of power so they could “get even” with the ubiquitous bully they now had control over. After I was “hired”, I still looked at the guards as the ones who were there to do a job and treated the inmates as people and not subjects, and the ones who were trying to compensate for some long lost memory they were trying to avenge.
The most interesting part was that over time I got to know many of the corrections officers on a semi-personal level; being the Trustee, I was often out of my cell and alone with the guards. Many of those hours alone with them gave me ample time to inquire who they were and where they came from. Many of them were pretty open with me given my previous position as a city councilman – I posed no threat. After coming to know many of them, I realized a trend. While there were exceptions, the status-quo was as follows:
- Nice Guards: military veterans (the combat vets were nicest), guards who had previously been in federal prisons, former police officers, and the college educated.
- Mean Guards: ones who for the first time were given a position of power, handcuffs, pepper spray, and power over other human beings.
If you haven’t had the chance to see “The Experiment”, and this concept is interesting to you, take the time to watch it. It is an excellent representation of what happens when one is given power without proper training or made to understand the psychological effect that power can have.
I say all that to discuss the recently-gone-viral story of a mother who was illegally detained, threatened, and harassed by a Mercy Hospital security in Springfield, MO. After taking pictures of her son who was being given audiology tests, she was placed in a secluded room and told the following: “Per legal and HIPPA, no one is allowed to take any type of photography… it’s just how the federal government – how the regulations are”; “If you do not cooperate, we will have to escort you off the property. We will trespass you aaand… they’ll probably fire you as a patient”; “It’s for legal – I need to see your identification”; “You’re being trespassed for violation of HIPPA”; “You’re being trespassive, if you come back you will be detained and taken to the Greene County Jail”; because she wouldn’t let the security officer search her phone she was “not cooperating” since her personal property was used to take pictures on what the male in the video claims is “his property”; “this probably will be reported to Medicaid”; “federal laws trump state laws”; “can you prove to me there are no pictures on [the cell phone]”. During this entire time the lady being illegally detained said she wanted to leave and was not allowed to, or even given a response about what she was wanting to do.
What happened next was borderline comical even given the severity of this woman’s plight. In a moment of complete confusion since the lady wasn’t submitting to the hospital staff’s illegal requests, the male in the video says, “Just one second, I need to speak with a manager.”
What?! Is this Burger King and the customer is upset because she didn’t get cheese on her Whopper? He’s going to get a manager! Is this for real?! Wait – yes, it is. And this single mother of three had to endure it.
Further, the local paper investigated and reports that pretty much everything the male in the video says to this mother is wrong. But what should we expect. Here we have what apparently is a male who falls in to the category of “bad guard” – a little power with even less instruction. Further, the Mercy website for open security positions states the only requirements to be hired are that the applicant is 21 and has a high-school diploma or equivalent. After posing as an interested applicant, I found out the “knowledge” portion of the position post is not required, and the starting pay is $10.14/hr. Not that I’m a HR guru, but that doesn’t seem like a lot of compensation or requirements for someone who is going to be given the power to remove a patient from a place that provides often emergency and life-saving care.
Look, I’m sure the male in the video was only doing what he thought was right – and maybe a little of what he thought he had the power to do. However, we all know where the road of good intentions often leads.
Let’s hope in the end Mercy will re-evaluate the policy on hiring for those they give a tazer, pepper spray, and a tablespoon of power. Not only would it be beneficial to their patients in not having to endure a kid who was bullied and grew up to be a security guard, but it would also do good for the hospital who bears the name “Mercy”.