Warrior of the Week: AT2 Morgan offers help to prisoners at Navy Brig

Story and photo by MC2 (SW) Mark Logico

Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

A Navy Airman found himself in a unique position when he opted to take on a special duty billet at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar (NCBM) Detachment Pearl Harbor at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH).

Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Christopher Morgan is one of seven qualified corrections counselors who manages independent program plans for individual prisoners residing in NCBM.

The mission of the Detachment Pearl Harbor Brig is to provide safe, legal, secure and professional confinement of prisoners from all branches of service in Hawaii and to provide a comprehensive corrections program of evaluation, work, training and opportunities for self-improvement.

Morgan said that the goals of the brig programs are to better prepare confined personnel for return to duty, or to the civilian community as productive, offense-free individuals when released from the brig.

“We’re not licensed psychologists or anything,” said Morgan. “We’re considered like a social service case worker. A lot of our work is to guide prisoners through the different levels of confinement to the steps involved needed to resume day-to-day life – the initial 72 hours that they spend in in-processing, all the way up to release.”

As a corrections counselor, Morgan offers more than a guidance process through the brig program. Prisoners can request counseling with any issue they want. According to Morgan, while many of the prisoners come in with minor financial issues, others come in with complex issues that might delve into the prisoner’s life experiences.

“It’s our opportunity to gain a lot of insight for what our prisoners are into,” said Morgan. “We help them with any training they might want to attend. We can get them books or references to help them, build them post-military and just get them set up so they are not going back out there and re-offend. Sometimes it involves getting deep into their family history, and we try to address problems thereon. What had happened in the past might have affected what their offense was,” Morgan explained.

He said the most common problem he sees is drugs.

“There is … a lot of ‘Spice’ going around,” said Morgan. “A lot of people are getting confined for that – just drugs in general, it can be meth, Spice or marijuana. We have seen very few alcohol-related problems, actually.”

Before arriving at NCBM, Morgan was assigned to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest in San Diego where he met his wife who was also serving in the U.S. Navy. When Morgan’s wife, decided to take an assignment in Hawaii, Morgan turned in a request to co-locate with his spouse. The only set of orders available for him was brig duty at NCBM.

“It wasn’t exactly a first choice but it turned out to be a really awesome thing,” said Morgan.

Morgan was a corrections specialist for more than two years when his assistant officer in charge asked him if he wanted to go to corrections counselor school at Naval Technical Training Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

“It was awesome fun,” said Morgan. “The instructors were very experienced, and we worked through the worst and easiest prisoners. It’s interesting running through all the scenarios.”

Since 2008, Morgan has handled more than 80 prisoners with varying levels of difficulties.

“You get to work with some interesting people when it’s like the bottom end of the military,” said Morgan. “They are on an extreme low.

It’s harder in a lot of ways than the transitioning between recruits to military. A lot of these guys are seasoned. They’ve been in for awhile. When they come in the brig, a lot of them just don’t care.”

Morgan said it has always a challenge to build his counselees from the ground up, but that the high point of the job is finally seeing them out in town.

“You can’t live here on base without running into priors,” said Morgan. “I never had a violent run-in when I see them out in town. I won’t immediately tell anybody that they are prior offenders, like that’s how I know them. It is nice when they tell me, they have a job, they are doing well, they’re staying on island, or they got this awesome job back Seattle.”

Morgan hopes that he would get approval to attend Navy Counselor School.

“I’m counseling the worst now, so it would be rewarding, to say the least, to be counseling other Sailors in the Navy outside the brig,” said Morgan.

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Category: News