Most of these inmates are pretty good at what they do. They are all here for different reasons but for the most part, they are here because they are good manipulators. After all, that is how you survive in prison. Being in prison doesn't exactly encourage honesty.
It's easy to allow yourself to be manipulated by these guys. I see it all the time. Even well seasoned officers fall into that trap. To really be good at your job, you need to be able to spot manipulation. None of us are perfect at it, but you must always be on the lookout.
A couple of months ago, I was working in a unit with an inmate that I had a feeling was manipulating staff quite well. He is Mexican and always had someone with him to interpret for him. We were told he didn't speak a lick of English. This particular inmate had been in prison for years and yet had not learned to speak any English. To me, that seems a great way to become fluent in any language. Surround yourself with it all the time and you naturally absorb it. Something just didn't seem right about it. When we spoke, his eyes said to me that he did in fact at least understand English. I seemed to be the only one that thought he was taking us on a ride but something just didn't sit right with me and he knew it. I told him I knew he understood just fine.
Fast forward a few months and I begin working in a new unit. A unit that he had at some point been moved to. Funny thing, he spoke to me in perfect English from that very first time I saw him on. When I say perfect English, I mean it. No accent, advanced words, and better grammar than most English speakers I know. I would not be surprised to find out that English was actually his first language.
I think he gives me respect because he knows I didn't fall for his trick. He knows I enjoy my job and am at least decent at it. I have learned to pay attention to all the little things and not become complaisant. You can't in this job because that is when the little things go unnoticed and later turn to big things. Pay attention to all around you and trust your gut! No matter what any one tells you, if something feels off, it probably is. For me, this wasn't a big deal but for many officers, something like this could save your life. A split second could make all the difference. Don't allow that difference to be a bad thing.