We had one lieutenant come in and treat the inmates like dirt, calling them names and acting like the hardass guards from the movies. What he didn't account for is how much time you have to spend alone with these guys.
One day, he went to investigate a fight between two inmates, but it turned out to be a diversion. Two other inmates came up from behind and ambushed him. He was stabbed 61 times before he could signal the officer in the control room to open the door and let him in. He survived, but he's not exactly running marathons these days (side note: it's actually pretty hard to stab someone to death).
Definitely a three-man job.
The point is, there is nothing to be gained by antagonizing a pissed-off lifer who has no problem twisting knives in you and spitting or rubbing shit in your wounds. (You know those prison stabbing scenes in Breaking Bad? That was years of violence shoved into a montage, but it looked just about right.) Our job isn't to punish these guys -- the prison is their punishment. You might feel like a badass in the uniform, but that felon with the makeshift knife is a real badass. See, that's why he's in prison.
Obviously this doesn't mean that you have to become their friends. That happens, too -- some officers end up forging a "bond" with inmates, and more often than not, that "bond" ends with the guards smuggling drugs for them ... or straight-up fucking them. I walked out a lot of staff for getting involved with inmates. Hell, just ask Google how common this sort of thing is:
It's like dating on the Internet, but a little more respectable.