DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) — To work at a jail is no easy feat, but nurses and correctional officers serve folks behind bars every day.

Despite what the outside world might think, working at the Walton County Jail is not what it seems.

“A lot of people think there are illegal activities that go on here or things that would give us bad misconceptions, and that’s not true,” said Retired ARMY Veteran and eight-year deputy Kasey McKee. “Normally this is a very great facility to work with. We have a bunch of programs where we are trying to help the people who come here to go out and be active members of society.”

McKee said he joined WCSO after leaving the military, and said it was an easy transition.

“I actually bumped into the sheriff and he told me to apply I applied and here I am,” said McKee. “But I think any lifestyle would be easy to transfer to this, it’s a very good place to be.”

Correctional officers differ from deputies on the street in many ways. But McKee said the biggest difference is time with the inmates.

“They only have to deal with them for maybe an hour to two, depending on the call. From there they bring them here to us and then we deal with them for as long as they’re here,” said McKee.

In the medical wing, being a jail nurse also has misconceptions.

“It’s a safe environment, contrary to what a lot of people think. Being a jail nurse does not mean that it’s dangerous,” said eight-year registered nurse Christina Evans. “Not everybody that comes to jail is a bad person. Sometimes they’ve made a bad choice or a mistake.”

Being a nurse at a jail is a specialty and can be a role right after nursing school.

“Here at the jail, we do a lot of team nursing,” said Evans. “I have another nurse that works with me on the floor and we work together as a good team.”

Nurses at the jail see many different situations, from seizures to sprained ankles. Evans said the biggest difference from a hospital nurse is detoxing patients.

“We have a lot of alcohol withdrawal and detox and those are some of the things that you don’t necessarily see. On the Med search floor,” said Evans. “A lot of people that come into the facility don’t necessarily take very good care of themselves. They don’t go and get medical treatment or they can’t afford medical treatment. But now that we’ve gotten them cleaned up, we’ve gotten them off alcohol, we’ve gotten off the drugs, now they’re able to focus on themselves.”

Evans said it is always nice to have deputies around for extra safety, but regardless, the job is rewarding.

“To be able to see people do better, learn how to take care of themselves better. Sometimes we see people at their worst, and it’s very rewarding to see them have that opportunity to learn how to take care of themselves and how to interact in the community,” said Evans.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office staff are thanking the hardworking men and women with gifts for appreciation week.

Work-life behind bars, a look at nurses and correctional officers in Walton County

“They always provide food for us and they bring us blizzards or they bring us snacks. They show appreciation, making us feel appreciated and wanted, you know. And so that’s why I say It’s a great place to work for,” said McKee.