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New York officer saves suicidal inmate's life.

On Sept. 26, 1991, Correction Officer Carole McKenney was supervising an inmate who was preparing for transfer to the Secure Housing Unit of New York state's Oneida Correctional Facility.

Without warning, the inmate grabbed his razor, broke it and began slashing his wrists. When the inmate ignored McKenney's shout to stop, she drove her boot into his shins, forcing him to drop the razor.

"He was very upset," McKenney said. "He said he couldn't do the S.H.U. time."

McKenney then tried to administer first aid, but the inmate refused to hold still. Although he was bleeding profusely, she managed to grab the inmate's arms and hold him down, allowing other officers who arrived at the scene to apply first aid. The inmate survived.

After the incident--which left McKenney drenched in blood--the officer learned the inmate was HIV-positive. So far, she has tested negative for the virus, and she says that it hasn't affected her willingness to jump in to help again when necessary. "I would do all this over again," McKenney says.

For her actions, McKenney received the New York State Department of Corrections Medal of Honor from Commissioner Thomas A. Coughlin in a ceremony on June 15, 1992.

When she's not at work, McKenney unwinds from the stressful demands of her job by painting, a hobby she says she inherited from her great-grandfather. He painted highway signs for New York state for a living, and also painted landscapes of the Erie canal. Some of these paintings now hang in museums.

McKenney prefers to paint portraits to canals, but she also enjoys painting landscapes. She likes to use watercolors, and will paint on--or with--just about anything. "I painted the back of a co-worker's van in a sort of Desert Storm theme," she said. "It was a great advertisement for my work."

McKenney had worked in several maximum security facilities, including Auburn Correctional Facility and Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, before being transferred to the medium security facility in Oneida in 1987. "My father was glad when I left the max prison, but he never said anything about how worried he was until I transferred to Oneida," she said.

Both her parents died four years ago. "They were proud of my work in corrections," she says. "I'm sorry they weren't here to attend the awards ceremony--but I feel they still know."
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Best in the Business; Carole McKenney of the Oneida Correctional Facility
Author:Spertzel, Jody K.
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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