Eric B.

REPRESENT JUSTICE X JR: TEHACHAPI

My name is Eric Barthelmes. I've been working in the department for 13 years. I'm a correctional Lieutenant at the California Correctional Institution, here in Tehachapi and I work on a level IV facility. I actually used to be a program lead, program facilitator and an after school program for high crime areas. So I actually worked with juveniles who probably had a lot of family members who were in the department, unfortunately.

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Really what led me here was honestly just a career. Seeing the opportunity that the department has, seeing the income that we can make the retirement that we can make just the things that I could provide a family one day, once once I got…

One of the things that I have learned is Rehabilitation isn’t necessarily about inmates that are gonna parole and get out. Sometimes Rehabilitation is about inmates are going to be staying here the whole time.

Being on level 4 facility, a lot of these guys aren’t going to parole they’re not going to get out. So programming and Rehabilitation is about being in a safer environment. So to able to rehabilitate these guys that are going to stay it’s going to make it not only safer for my staff but is safer for them as well. 

The biggest challenge is sometimes is just not seeing any progress. We see violence go up. We see gang activity go up and sometimes, no matter what we do is just not enough. We see the public scrutiny time and time again.

And so it’s kind of one of those jobs that’s behind the curtain that there’s no glory in it all, there’s it’s just a, it’s just a negative environment around here negative aspects and you try to be as positive as you can once you enter a facility like this.

With this honestly, I just want to see just a safe environment for everybody. The biggest thing is being able to go home to our families the ones that are here being safe as well for their families and to get to see their families as well, so, to me, I wanna say it’s just about safety, being secure, everywhere around here, our jobs here is to keep these guys here, we’re not the judge or the jury. We’re just here to provide a safe secure environment and with that, you know, we just hope that violence goes down. We hope you know drugs go down. We just we just honestly want to see a place where staff can program together and go home, you know, safe.

Could have difficult one to explain to anybody what we do every day. Sometimes, you know, there’s a day were not a whole lot goes on and those are the days, you know, sometimes that are few and far in between or sometimes it’s just a long string of days that nothing happens, but this is one of those places where at the drop of a dime, it just becomes violent becomes bloody becomes nasty in a heartbeat. 

So that’s one of the things we want people to know is, you know, we do work hard, we do put a lot of effort in our jobs, we do care about stuff, we do care even the inmates in here. We do a lot to protect them, we do a lot to save them, we do… We put ourselves In harm’s way to save them. And so one of the things that sometimes we like to get out there is, you know, we’re not only here for ourselves, but we’re honestly here for them. We’re here to sometimes be a guidance. Sometimes the were the only person that they had to look up to and sometimes they’re the people that we hate, sometimes.