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Work among criminals dangerous, satisfying (video)

By By Caty Hirst - CHIRST@VICAD.COM
March 2, 2013 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated March 1, 2013 at 9:02 p.m.

Jailers do a visual check every 15 minutes in the holding cells at  Victoria County Jail, a very stark and cold environment.

The series

•  Feb. 24 - A Victoria patrol officer balances family, job

•  Today - Victoria County jailers live among criminals, see E1

•  March 10 - Victoria K-9 units battle narcotic use in Victoria

•  March 17 - Victoria firefighters become family

Sgt. Joseph Randolph runs a tight ship at Victoria County Jail.

He has to, he said, or people can get hurt, even killed.

He starts each 12-hour shift by counting every last inmate - nearly 400 of them - with, at the maximum, 17 jailers.

Then comes breakfast, visitation, recreation time for the inmates, GED classes, medicating, intake of new inmates, arraignments, lunch, medicating again, another count, more new inmates, releasing inmates, recreation time and dinner.

At 10 p.m., it is lights out, and the TVs are turned off for the prisoners.

But even after the inmates are sound asleep in their bare, concrete jail cells, Randolph and his jailers continuously patrol the fluorescent-lit hallways.

The guards spend most of their awake time in the jail, with people ranging from the gang member on trial for murder to the drunk sleeping off the night before, and are always ready for the worst.

But the danger - even the evil restrained only by metal bars and a baton - doesn't stop Randolph from loving his job.

"I think it could have been me, back in my younger days. It's just somehow I got on a different path," Randolph said, pausing his patrol of the floor to consider the inmates dressed in bright orange, most of them animatedly watching TV from their small bunk beds.

"I'm not here to judge. I'm not here to punish. I'm here to maintain custody," Randolph said, continuing his habitual walk of the jail.

Main story:

Behind the iron gates: Woman jailer learns respect keeps her safe (Video)

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