Hardworking MPs uphold the law

6 Aug 2004 | Lance Cpl. Matthew K. Hacker

When most people picture a prison, they see a run-down, dirty, grimy place where those serving time are disciplined inhumanely and riots break out every 15 minutes. You won't see any of that in the military correctional facility here.

Lance Cpl. Daniel Odell of Hiwassee, Va., and Lance Cpl. Greg Seeger of Naugatuck, Conn., both corrections specialists with Marine Corps Base, have worked at the facility for more than a year.

Odell, who enlisted in October 2001, and Seeger, who enlisted in February 2002, both attended job training at the Naval Corrections Academy at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio.

The corrections specialists at the correctional facility must receive 80 hours of job-related in-service training throughout the year.  These Marines are trained on administrative requirements, security procedures, contraband control, use of force and other job-related skills. 

Guards at the facility endure approximately 270 hours of duty a month. Working 24-hour shifts, every third day, the corrections specialists stand various duties, ranging from escorting and supervising work details to manning master control and special quarters where high risk prisoners are held.

"You get used to going on a couple hours of sleep a night," said Odell. "Some days are good ... some days are better."

Being a lance corporal working at the correctional facility has its advantages and disadvantages. Supervising prior senior enlisted Marines and officers can be a difficult thing to do without confidence.

"You have to see them all the same," said Seeger. "If you look at them and treat them differently, it's going to create problems. No matter if it's a private or a general, an unauthorized absence violator or a murderer, you have to treat everybody the same."

Upholding Marine Corps customs and courtesies is something correctional specialists must display on a continual basis.  Guards must set the example for all inmates to emulate.

"Some prisoners and detainees have a bad taste about the Marine Corps, and they're going to take it all out on you," said Odell. "We're the only Marines they see, so we have to mind our P's and Q's and show them what it takes to be a Marine."

The Marines at the facility live, work and treat the detainees according to current rules and regulations set forth by the Secretary of the Navy, Department of Defense and the American Correctional Association. They uphold justice treating the prisoners in accordance with their motto, "Firm, Fair and Impartial."

Treating everyone equally is the key to maintaining a successful facility, according to Seeger.

These young Marines have more responsibility than the average Marine of the same grade. They're often thrown into situations, which may occur suddenly and are expected to adapt accordingly.

"A lance corporal who can have anywhere from twenty to forty-eight prisoners under his control at any given time, can be compared to a platoon sergeant when it comes to responsibilities in completing the mission," said Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael Schrader, the facility supervisor.

"Swearing and belittling the prisoners is not allowed, because it defies their civil rights."

Overall, the Marines at the correctional facility here serve a vital role in upholding military justice and civil rights. Although they sacrifice a lot of their time to the job, the results of their hard work affect everyone.

Both Odell and Seeger plan to pursue careers in law enforcement after leaving the Corps. Neither is sure which area of law enforcement they would like to pursue, but both are sure that's what they want to do when their enlistment is up.