From conversations with a serial killer, over corruption in sheriff departments to crazy prison stories – Former correctional officer and now Criminal Justice Professor John Gonsler talks about his experiences in a room full of college students.
Gonsler agreed to talk about his experiences in front of a very curious journalism class on Tuesday. Though he admitted being a little shy, he willingly answered everybody’s questions and definitely made for a good interviewee.
“I thought it was cool. I thought it was interesting,” one of the students said.
Gonsler is teaching in his third semester at Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa but his career began long before that. After getting his bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University he worked for the Genesee County Sheriff department in Flint, Michigan for about two years before he quit. Why? Because the sheriff was “dirtier like a pig’s dick”.
According to him, it was a very corrupt department and not representative to that extent. However, “there are corrupt cops in not corrupt departments,” he says. “If I was in a different department, I would’ve been a corrupt cop.”
Gonsler then talked about his time as a correctional officer in a medium security prison. He found out pretty soon it wasn’t for him either. Yet, he made some remarkable memories, which telling by the interested look on their faces, some laughs here and there, and the many questions, the students clearly enjoyed to hear about. “I liked the stories about when he was a correctional officer,” one of them commented.
When asked to tell an interesting story about this time, Gonsler answered: “I was there for six months and I could write a fucking book series on interesting stories. Do you want violence, do you want rape, do you want disgusting? It’s gonna have to be a little bit more specific than that.” In the end, he decided to tell them about a prisoner holding baby birds as pets and boiling them in a hot pod because they needed a bath.
After that job, Gonsler decided to stop working in law enforcement. Instead, he went back to college and did his master’s in Anthropology at Indiana State University. Since his master’s thesis was about serial killers, he reached out to some of them.
Ted Kaczynski, also known as the “Unabomber”, actually wrote back to him. “I was probably the only person that was happy to receive mail from him,” Gonsler joked.
Well, those are the kinds of experiences you can make in criminal justice.