Building Unity Through Adversity at the Bridgeport Correctional Center
“I just cannot say enough about the staff. I really just can’t.”
Warden Linda Thomas at the Bridgeport Correctional Center deeply appreciates the dedication of her staff members. She’s especially grateful for how they’ve responded to an unusual amount of adversity in the form of tragedies. Several Bridgeport staff members have sadly passed away in recent times. Their loss is still felt strongly at the facility each day.
“You know, when you have tragedy,” Warden Thomas says, “it really breaks you down and it tears the morale down because, you know, you just feel defeated.”
Unfortunately, Warden Thomas speaks from personal experience. It was just a few years ago that she lost her husband, and recently she also lost her son. Warden Thomas is certainly no stranger to tragedy.
“I can’t tell you how many emails and texts I got from staff. Like, ‘We love you’, ‘We’re thinking about you’, I mean, ‘What do you need?’ Such amazing people. ‘Can we come out?’ I mean, the staff alone sent me flowers, cards. The volunteer services handed me tons of cards from the inmate population. The inmates! When I came back, you know it’s never secret, but the inmates would say, ‘Hey, Warden Thomas, we’re so sorry for your loss. Just know we’ve been praying for you’.
In some ways, perhaps Warden Thomas is uniquely qualified to help navigate the overall mourning being experienced by Bridgeport staff members.
“You know, through all the stuff, through COVID, through all the tragedies, and through all that, you know, we have stood the test of time. They’re still here. They still work hard. They will just do anything.”
Staff have responded to the difficult times in remarkable ways. One example is what happened when one of their own was killed in a motorcycle accident.
“Everybody was just so devastated. Our care team came together; they came here about 2:00 in the morning just to comfort the other staff that had worked with and knew her, the people who were taking it hard, and just reminding them to keep the joy, how she was. How positive she was. And the chaplain came on a Saturday. The major, the captain came back to the facility to say, ‘Hey, we’re here. Let’s support each other.’ When you can have that kind of camaraderie in the facility, when you have that kind of tragedy, you know, it is just seeing how people care for each other.”