Former correctional officer Dora Hall says she has trouble remembering what she did during April and May 1988. She remembers smoking crack cocaine nearly every day. She remembers falling asleep on the midnight to 8 a.m. shift at the D.C. jail, leaving her partner in the Southwest-1 cellblock to guard 120 prisoners with no backup. She remembers being transferred to floor control, a less sensitive post outside the cellblock, and falling asleep there too. The rest is pretty much a blur.

Lt. Saundra Green says she has no trouble remembering what happened to Dora Hall in May 1988. One night about 3:30 a.m., Green got word of trouble on the jail's second floor. Hall, 32, was sound asleep in floor control, a locked cubicle with wide plexiglass windows. Floor control regulates all movement to and from the six cellblocks on that floor. The officers inside the cellblocks wanted to go to dinner but had no way to open the sliding metal doors that Hall was supposed to be operating.

As a supervisor, Green decided to see for herself what was happening. When she arrived, several officers were trying to rouse Hall. They yelled and screamed at her through the glass, banged on the side of the cubicle with a broom handle, dialed the floor control telephone and let it ring and ring and ring.

Nothing worked. Hall lay motionless, her head face down on the control panel. If an officer in one of the cellblocks had called a Code Blue -- an urgent request for help broadcast on the jail's loudspeakers -- it would have taken several minutes to get the passkey from the jail's command center, climb the stairs to floor control, open the door and release the electronic gates so officers responding to the Code Blue could get into the cellblock.

Falling asleep that way was a security breach that Green could not ignore: highly visible and highly dangerous.

Finally, another officer appeared with the passkey. Green shook Hall awake. "She was startled," Green said. "Her explanation to me was that she had five kids, she had to work three jobs, she was driving a cab." Green said she had no reason to challenge Hall's statement; she did not know that Hall was a crack addict.

She sent Hall home and filed a report on the incident.

There was no formal inquiry. There was no disciplinary action. No one found out that Hall wasn't driving a cab. Hall knew that her job wasn't in jeopardy; jail officials had too much trouble finding enough officers to keep the facility at full strength. They weren't about to ask hard questions about someone who fell asleep once in a while.

Hall continued working at the jail until November 1988, when she says she quit to get away from the circle of drug-using officers she had met during her two years there. Before she resigned, she agreed to talk about her own drug use -- but not about other officers with whom she smoked crack -- because, she said, she wants the public to understand the extent of the problem at the jail. "I heard more about drugs in the jail than I had ever heard before," Hall said.'That Damn Parking Lot'

Hall's first few weeks in September 1986 were eye-opening. She had come to the jail after working for a private security firm, attracted by the jail's starting salary at the time -- $18,500 a year, nearly $5,000 more than she had been earning. She quickly learned that the jail's staff could be divided loosely into two groups: hard-working, no-nonsense officers whose neat, well-kept uniforms reflected their attitudes toward their jobs, and a small number of erratic, unreliable officers who often showed up late for roll call and sometimes did not show up at all.

As the months went by, she learned more about this second group. Some were drug users. Some were heavy drinkers. Some kept liquor in their cars and drank on their lunch breaks. Some had parties and swapped drugs for sex. It didn't take long for newcomers to become involved, if they wanted to.

Hall had no history of drug abuse, but she was a heavy drinker from a family of drinkers. She soon noticed that she had to go no farther than the jail's parking lot, now the site for an addition to the jail, to get drunk.

"Let me tell you something," Hall said. "The hardest thing about getting away from alcohol or drugs is that damn parking lot. This car may have scotch, this car may have vodka, this one may have gin. You leave some officers in the parking lot and when you come back {the next day}, they're still sitting there. I sat there with them one day and I was so drunk I couldn't drive home."

One day, she visited an officer at his van and saw a crack pipe and crack on the back seat. She asked him if he was crazy, and told him to put them out of sight.

She stayed away from the parties that took place at several officers' homes. She saw photographs from one such party. They showed officers having a sex and drug orgy; it was easy to recognize the faces of some officers; one photo showed several officers smoking crack.

The photos, which made the rounds at the jail, amazed Hall. It was bad enough that they were having such parties, she thought. But it was inconceivable to her that someone had taken photographs and was now passing them around.

She remembers telling one officer who had attended the party, "This is the dumbest thing you all have ever done. Don't you know this stuff can get you fired?"

The response: "We were drunk."

She decided to steer clear of the officers who had participated. "I ain't that wild," she said.

She kept drinking, though. It helped her hide, she said, from her troubled marriage and the responsibility of raising five children, the first of whom was born when Hall was 13. She had her fourth baby about a month before she started working at the jail; in the spring of 1987, she became pregnant again. She continued drinking, however, sometimes failing to show up for work. Her supervisors questioned her but did not seem overly concerned about the absences, she said.

Just before the end of 1987, she went on a two-month maternity leave and stopped drinking. After the baby was born in late January, she said she felt depressed and began drinking heavily again. In early March, she telephoned another female officer. After they chatted for a while, Hall asked if she could come over to the officer's apartment and talk some more.

When she arrived, Hall noticed that the other officer seemed anxious. Instead of listening to Hall's troubles, the officer repeatedly excused herself and went to a rear bedroom. Each time she returned, she paused to rearrange some books or straighten the furniture. Hall remembers thinking, "How many times are you going to shuffle those damn books?"

Finally, Hall couldn't stand it. "What are you doing back there in the back?" she asked.

The other officer changed the subject. Hall persisted. The officer said she was smoking crack. Did Hall want to try?

For 18 months, Hall had avoided the crack-using officers. Now, Hall's curiosity got the better of her. The two of them went to the bedroom. To Hall's suprise, there were two other officers there, sharing a crack pipe. Hall knew one from the jail; the other was a supervisor at one of the seven prisons operated by the District in Lorton. "I tried it," Hall said. "It made me throw up."

But she wanted to try again. The second time, she liked the way the drug made her feel -- super-alert, energetic, euphoric. On several occasions, she came back to the apartment to smoke it.

Later in March, Hall went back to work at the jail. She was assigned to the midnight to 8 a.m. shift on cellblock Southwest-1, where she was teamed with Officer Wanda Watkins. Some days, Hall said, she went to work on a crack high; sometimes, the high wore off at work. Watkins, who said she didn't know about Hall's drug use, repeatedly found Hall asleep in a chair.

"She might work maybe one hour, if that long," Watkins said. "She just wasn't any help to me."

Watkins said nothing at first. She knew that Hall had five children, including a baby; she said she had no idea that Hall was using crack. "I thought she was telling the truth," Watkins said. "I know every time she called home, the babies were whooping and hollering and all."

Watkins said she could not rely on Hall to handle many of the tasks that must be done each night in the cellblock -- counting prisoners, waking them at 3:30 a.m. on court days for breakfast, distributing and collecting the food trays. "A lot of times, I wouldn't even ask her to do anything because she was always falling asleep," Watkins said. "I just did it myself."

After only a few weeks of this, Watkins told Hall to stay in the bubble, the plexiglass-covered room in each cellblock from which officers operate the cell doors and watch for signs of trouble. The bubble officer's alertness is critical to the cellblock's security; if something goes wrong, the bubble officer sends out a Code Blue asking for help.

But it soon became clear to Watkins that Hall was falling asleep there too. "Sometimes I would be out making security checks, and I would look up at the bubble and she would be asleep," Watkins said.

Sometimes there was a third officer on duty; on many nights, however, it was just Watkins and Hall. Often, Watkins learned from the inmates that her partner was asleep in the bubble: "They would say, 'That officer down there is asleep, Miss Watkins.' "

Finally, Watkins complained to her supervisors.

Hall remembers that Watkins got angry because "I kept nodding out." When Hall's supervisor questioned her, she said she was exhausted from taking care of her children. Sympathetic, the supervisor transferred Hall to floor control.Breaking Away

Despite this reprieve, Hall's behavior at work did not change. She was smoking crack every day now, staying up three or four days at a time and falling asleep on the job. She couldn't help it. "By that third day, I'd go to sleep on the president," she said. "I would be very, very tired."

After the incident in May 1988 when Lt. Green and the other officers tried unsuccessfully to wake her up, Hall's crack habit got worse. During a two-day binge, she went through $1,700. She bought drugs on the street, sometimes from former inmates. On Memorial Day weekend, she realized that she had hit bottom.

On her own, she checked into an outpatient treatment program offered through her health maintenance organization. "I just said, 'I'm not going to do {crack} anymore,' " she said. She wanted to go into an inpatient program at a hospital -- which some consider to be the best type of treatment -- but could not afford the extra expense.

As she struggled to get herself together, she kept working. In September 1988, she resolved to leave the jail and Washington. She took her children to Florida and left them with her mother. She did not show up at work for several weeks as she made preparations to move back to Florida, where she had grown up. On Oct. 4, 1988, Hall told jail officials that she was resigning. They tried to talk her out of it, she said; she stayed for another month before leaving for good.

After trying to get a job with a sheriff's office in central Florida, she went to Miami and worked as a counselor for a federal Job Corps training center. She quit in January; her family said last week that they are not sure of her whereabouts. Her children are still living with her mother.

Watkins said she was relieved when Hall quit the jail. "I didn't know what to think about her," she said. "I never knew she was on drugs. She fooled me."

All foot traffic to and from the D.C. jail's 18 cellblocks must pass through floor control- a six-sided box with sliding doors that a correctional officer electronically operates from a glass-enclosed office at ceiling level. The doors open onto two corridors that lead to the jail's north and south wings; each wing has three cellblocks. There are floor control units on each of the jail's three levels.

1. In May 1988, correctional officer Dora Hall fell asleep inside floor control on level 2; at the time, she was smoking crack cocaine regularly and falling asleep at work. Officers on duty in the cellblocks wanted to go to dinner but were unable to past floor control. Several minutes went by while officers tried to arouse her by banging on the outer glass and calling on the floor control telephone - time enough for an emergency to develop inside the block.

2. Stairway leading to floor control. When officers failed to rouse Hall, they got a duplicate key from the jail's command center and opened the door to floor control, which is always locked. Once inside, they were able to shake her awake.