Friday, January 16, 2015

TOP STORY >> Cinder blocks and steel

By Airman 1st Class Scott Poe
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Tucked away in the back of the Security Forces Squadron building, surrounded by steel and concrete in a small room with one-way windows and cold steel doors, is where Staff Sgt. Thomas Hodges, the 19th SFS noncommissioned officer-in-charge of confinement, spends his work day. 

Hodges is responsible for the inmates at Little Rock AFB. Each morning, when Hodges arrives, his first order of business is to review the live feed from the security cameras to look for anything out of the ordinary. After his initial inspection, he talks to the inmates to ensure their units have taken care of them and that they have everything they need. 

“I can’t be here every single day, every single moment, so the first thing I do is assess what happened while I was gone,” said Hodges. 

Hodges is a one-man show during normal duty hours. When he is off the clock, the 19th Security Forces desk sergeant keeps an eye out and is responsible for the inmates until Hodges returns.

As the NCOIC of confinement, Hodges stays ahead of the game by watching over current courts martial that have the possibility of confinement to better understand the characteristics of possible inmates.

“I like to find out as much information as I can, so I can understand why they are here and their personality,” said Hodges. “Instead of waiting until they are being in-processed to confinement, I like to go to their courts martial to try and figure out who they are, what they did and how they are going to react and behave in confinement.”

Inmates can be held for a few days or up to six months in confinement. When inmates are sentenced for longer than a month, Hodges feels he can make a difference.

“I feel like I actually get to make a difference here,” said Hodges. “I try to counsel the inmates and let them know about the resources they still have available to them. My favorite part of my job is being able to interact with them.”

One of the differences Hodges tries to make is to redirect the inmates’ intentions and goals to help them become better Airmen.

“I’m not just doing it for their benefit; I’m also doing it for society’s benefit,” said Hodges. “It’s a punishment to be here, but it’s also rehabilitation. It’s the confinement staff’s job to help the inmate become a productive member of society.”

Being the NCOIC of confinement is no easy job, but Hodges brings the determination, the drive and the military bearing necessary for the task. 

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