Death row's lethal end for inmates comes at no surprise, but deadly risks can follow the men and women paid to be there.

Studies show correction officers have a life expectancy of 16 years lower than the general population and those in the profession contemplated suicide three times more often than others.

Jacksonville man Bobby Allen said suicide was nearly his fate after he worked nearly a decade on the last mile.

"I felt evil in that place," Allen recalled about his job on death row. "People closest to me had no idea what was going on with me. I didn't know what was going on."

At age 22, he began working at Georgia's Diagnostic Classification State Prison near Jackson in 1981. In six years, he participated in 10 executions by walking the inmate into the death chamber. Georgia's death sentences in the 1980s were carried out by electric chair.

Allen said ghosts of the inmates he had charge over haunted him for 20 years.

"Knowing that you're locked inside with these people that were capable of the horrendous things that they did to their victims," Allen said. "That was constantly on my mind."

Many of Allen's nightmares involved death row inmate Roosevelt Green. Green was executed in 1985 for the rape and murder of Teresa Carol Allen in Cochran, Georgia. Allen said he had no relation to the victim but she was killed less than a mile from his home when he was a teenager. Over the years, he would build a rapport with Green and other inmates creating conflicts at the time of execution.

"When the nightmares started, I just wanted them to stop," Allen said. "I started drinking very heavily and people constantly misdiagnosed me with alcoholism. They told me you just need to stop drinking and everything will be ok, and that simply was not true."

Stuffing down the emotions from his job turned into a downward spiral that cost him his family, his job and his sanity. Allen said he contemplated suicide.

Three years ago, he said he finally found hope through spiritual guidance at the Salvation Army and a new diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Psychologist David Thomas of Gainesville said Allen's diagnosis is not uncommon. Trauma among officers can go undiagnosed within the band of blue Thomas said, and correction officers are not immune.

"If he's attacked by someone, then that officer still has to go back on that compound with that individual or other individuals," Thomas said. "Or let's say he's walking a guy to the death chamber, and [he's] been with that guy for six or seven years and now they're going to kill him. That does directly impact you."

Thomas, a former police officer who specializes in counseling law enforcement, said most of his patients do not seek help until there is a problem on the job. The simplest issue he finds is too often people refuse to talk about their daily stressors with anyone outside of law enforcement.

For Allen, he said he's forging a new path in life along a different mile. He has written a book called Redemption of an Executioner with a message he said officers cannot afford to ignore.

"I decided that people needed to know about PTSD, and how devastating it is to a person's life," Allen said. "An officer's spiritual journey through Georgia's death row and that's what it's about, the journey. It's not just about the executions."