Changing of the Guard: Women now the majority working in Miami-Dade county jails

(WSVN) - If you think working inside a jail is mostly a man’s world — you’re wrong. For the first time, women now outnumber men as corrections officers inside the biggest jail in Miami-Dade County. In our special assignment report, 7’s Brian Entin explains this “Changing of the Guard.”

Jail — home to the violent and dangerous.

Dozens of inmates in one room with just a few corrections officers inside Miami-Dade County’s Metro West Detention Center.

Corp. Knight: “The inmates will manipulate you. If they smell blood, they are like a shark. If they smell blood they are going to eat you up.”

There are more than 1,900 inmates, mostly men. But for the first time, the majority of the officers are women.

Sgt. Hilton: “I’ve had them tell me I should be home having babies. Yes, I’ve had them tell me that. I had to establish I’m in charge.”

These jailers say controlling the inmates isn’t about size… or stature.

Corp. Knight: “Me being 4’11, 125 pounds, and I need an inmate to move in a certain area. I will go over in a professional manner and say, ‘Listen, you don’t want the trouble.'”

In old jail photos — you rarely see women.

In this photo from decades ago, there are a few female officers, but the number of women working in Miami-Dade jails has been on the rise.

They have now overtaken their male counterparts. The question is — why?

Sgt. Hilton: “Women tend to take more time with situations and talk more. And that is what we need inside these facilities.”

The director of Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation says it’s no surprise women are so effective.

Dir. Daniel Junior, Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation: “They bring that motherly instinct into that role with everything they do.”

Brian Entin: “The women who work here say the key to working with the inmates is treating them with respect. And they say, often times, the male inmates here actually take instructions better from the female officers.”

Corp. Knight: “I would say the men that were raised by moms, they know to give respect. They look at us as aunties, moms, grandmothers.”

It is a difficult job and respect doesn’t always come easy.

Last year, more than 30 female corrections officers sued the county claiming enough was not done when male inmates exposed themselves and made lewd comments.

Corp. Knight: “There are consequences to that behavior when the hormones rise.”

It’s that combination of toughness and motherly instinct that has made women so successful in a place men were once in charge.

 

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