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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Paz

Why I Wore High Heels When I Worked in a Prison

The truth is I haven't always worked jobs where sneakers were allowed daily. I have worked in a women's prison, a jail, outpatient services, and coordinating care working for a Medicaid company. When I was employed in the prison, the officers would often question why I was dressed the way I was; sometimes I wore a dress or skirt and most often high heels. Yes, I wore pumps to work at a prison!

Now this might seem wild to most (it did to the staff there) but I had a reason. I worked with level 1 offenders, which were non-violent offenders with no violations while incarcerated in the prior year. I felt safe.

I worked at the prison for a year, leaving to co-facilitate online DBT groups. In that year I experienced no direct violence or violence on the unit I worked. I worked with over 40 inmates who were released during my time there and worked alongside 8 women incarcerated for life who worked as mentors. These women benefited from the DBT group I facilitated.

I acknowledge that there is a reason for walls and razor wire, guard towers and surveillance in prisons. I also understand that my clients (the incarcerated) were used to seeing uniformed armed officers and staff ready to do whatever they deemed necessary if something happened. With all this control and surveillance and the fact I was safe, I felt comfortable going to work in what I often wore to my prior jobs: high heels. I didn't see a need to wear "ready to run" shoes as most of the other non-officer staff did. So I wore my heels to show the women in my group that I felt safe. That I was safe.

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