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Can America Continue to Operate Its Prisons

February 21st, 2011

Can America Continue to Operate Its Prisons


A 1990’s Speech Comes True

In the 1990’s I was asked to give a speech at the Mid-Atlantic Correctional Association’s Annual Conference. For those of you who remember the late 1980’s and 1990’s, new prisons (jails) were being built all over the country. We were in the middle of the correctional industrial revolution.

As I prepared my speech, I began thinking about the high cost of building all of these new prisons (jails), not to mention how costly it was going to be to operate them.

Also, I was concerned about the way prisons were being used. The number of people with mental illnesses coming into the prisons (jails) was growing every year.

Politicians were looking at prisons (jails) as employment opportunities for their constituents without realizing the future costs. I really do not think they could have imagined the high cost of operating prisons (jails).

I believed then, (and we are experiencing it now) that he high costs associated with operating prisons (jails) would have such a negative affect on state budgets. The cost today associated with operating prisons (jails) is preventing the states from spending money on schools, roads, bridges, other infrastructure projects, university systems, etc.

California is by far the most publicized, but certainly not the only state having challenging problems paying for its correctional system. As with most state correctional systems, the California system is overcrowded with no real operational plan to resolve its overcrowding and other operational problems. Building new prisons is out of the question.

The nation’s correctional systems have for the past two plus decades seen a continuous flow of prisoners going in, and nothing more than a trickling stream of prisoners coming out. One must also mention the unbelievable recidivism rate of 70%.

The “3 Strikes and You Are Out Law”, “Rockefeller Drug Laws”, mandated sentencing, and numerous other laws that were once heralded as being tough on crime, I believe, are major contributing factors to the overcrowding of American prisons, and thereby increasing the operational costs.

Having the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” turned on the field of corrections.

The joke was on the system Strike One: The building of new prisons in the last century rather than examining and implementing ways to reduce crime.  Also, those involved in building these new prisons (jails) appeared not to comprehend that the building of these prisons was the only fixed cost, which was in the millions. They could not have understood that operational costs would continue to increase every year.

Strike Two: The enactment of the laws with no regard for what the cost of these laws would be to enforce and what would these laws would resolve.

Strike Three: Not having the foresight to understand that they could not build their way out of criminal/social/mental health /addiction problems that are part of society.

The Time Has Come To Act. The time has come to act. I believe that as a nation we have to initiate a “Think Tank” to start to answer the many questions confronting the field of corrections. This “Think Tank” should:

– Consist of experts from various fields of study: business, criminal justice, mental health, additions, medical, social and psychological, etc.

 State Departments of Corrections should conduct detailed analysis of the following:

  • Look at what assets the department of corrections has now (buildings, programs, personnel, recidivism rates, etc.)
  • Determine what is working and what is not working (This determination should be done using scientifically sound evaluation methods. There cannot be any sacred cows.)
  • Reexamine the rationale of keeping people with moderate to severe mental health issues in prisons where they do not receive the care, compassion, life skills, or rehabilitation that they need. There are agencies than can confine and treat people with mental health issues better than most prisons (jails).
  • Reexamine the way the nation treats drug addicts and alcoholics. Determine whether keeping them locked-up in high cost prisons (jails), with little to no programming for their problems, is the most efficient way of dealing with them. There are agencies than can confine and treat addicts and alcoholics better than most prisons (jails).
  • Examine the concept of closing down out of date, energy inefficient prisons and constructing “temporary” energy efficient prisons. I say “temporary” because the ultimate goal is to reduce inmate populations nationwide.
  • Examine how many inmates could be released to less expensive halfway houses, pre-release and/or rehabilitation centers, parole, or some new approach that has yet to be discovered, etc. Corrections continues to use methods and programs that do not work – have not worked for years. There are those who believe that these ineffective programs are better than nothing.
  • Discontinue programs that are not achieving predetermined goals (Anyone who has worked in corrections for a few years knows that there are programs that just are not working and that the personnel and funding for the non-performing or underperforming programs could be put to a better use.)
  • Reinstitute vocational training programs for inmates who demonstrate an aptitude and interest for such training. Some of the funding for these programs could come from programs that were eliminated
  • Reinstitute educational classes for inmates who demonstrate an ability and interest.
  • Carefully develop well designed, energy and operationally efficient prisons to replace the old inefficient prisons which are costing millions of dollars to operate and maintain.

(Architects in the past have designed the prison (jail) versions of the Taj Mahal, thereby driving up costs of   new prison projects. During the boom, architects were hired to design prisons (jails) that have had zero experience in designing prisons). I remember interviewing an architectural firm who said to me, “we have built dozens of motels what is the difference?”

I have articulated the above observations, comments and suggestions as a means of starting a dialogue before the time comes when states can no longer afford to keep offenders in prisons (jails) and are forced to release them.

The nation’s recidivism rate is around 70%, so obviously the nation’s prison systems are broken, yet the states continue to pump millions of dollars into them. One has to ask, what if a significant portion of the money spent to build new prisons (jails) was spent to develop more efficient and productive correctional systems?

If the real truth were known, the majority of  America’s prisons (jails) are nothing more than warehouses for criminals. An extremely dangerous sub-culture has developed over the years. This subculture consists of gangs, violent young offenders many of whom have been groomed in juvenile corrections and on the streets. There are also older seasoned offenders who orchestrate criminal initiatives and other nefarious activities.   

While amazing people, including administrators and staff, work to maintain order and keep the lid on, the time is quickly approaching when all the negatives reach a critical mass. Overcrowding, staff to inmate ratio, lack of offender programming, deteriorating prisons (jails), and lack of funding will meet and create a perfect storm.

The solutions to the problems facing corrections will not be easy nor will the answers to the multitude of questions that will bombard those brave enough and thoughtful enough to work on them. We arrived here, I believe, because rather than confront the real issues facing the field of corrections back in the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s, we took the path of least resistance and built more prisons, hired more correctional officers and other staff, and passed more senseless laws without giving any thought to the long range implications of these solutions of least resistance.

I know that much of what I have written in this article will be disputed and corrected by those who are entrenched in the various systems, or who have some financial interest in the current way corrections is being done. I, however, stand by what I have written and believe it to be correct. The time will come when the cost of operating prisons will become so overwhelming that that states’ will have to release prisoners.

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Tight Budgets Will Influence Jails and Prisons Operations

January 25th, 2011

The title of this article is self-explanatory. Of course tight budgets will influence the operations of criminal justice agencies. The more important questions are these. How severely will the operations be influenced and for how long?


Throughout my many years in the field of criminal justice, I have lived through many instances of tight budgets. In the old days we survived these budgets cuts by tweaking this and that, not filling vacant positions (hiring freeze), shutting off lights, taking every other fluorescent light bulb out, and canceling all travel, etc.


My concern now is that governmental bodies are in reality running out of cash to operate criminal justice agencies, especially correctional facilities. While there is a great deal of rhetoric by our politicians at every level of government, as of the writing of this article, nothing substantive has been presented to solve the nation’s (world’s) economic problems.

The differences between the budget crises that I experienced and today’s budget crises are these:


Ø The duration of this budget crisis promises to be far longer than any of those I experienced.


Ø Additionally, when the economy does start to come back, criminal justice operations, especially corrections, will be the last to enjoy it.


Ø There will be the loss and/or serious reduction of federal and state grants.


Ø Not being prepared could prove to be disastrous.

Read more…

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Is Your Mailroom Your Facility’s Achilles Heal

January 9th, 2011

Is Your Mailroom Your Achilles Heal

Learning from Others

Once again other people’s misfortunes can help us get prepared for another possible emergency situation (s). United State Postal Offices have experienced flammable packages being sent through the USPS to governmental officials. In all of these instances, the facilities had to be evacuated and some employees were slightly injured.

What can anyone operating any type of a criminal justice facility learn from these events? I have put together checklist to help CJ facilities prepare for similar events or events that could be even more serious.

Read more…


Cyber Attack

December 13th, 2010

Cyber Attack

Did You Hear the Wakeup Call

Over the past week hackers brought down numerous web sites to include MasterCard. The reason for these attacks was the arrest of Julian Assange in England, he is the purported head person of WikiLeaks, a web site that has leaked millions of pages of military and United States State Department secrets. He was not arrested for leaking classified information, but for rape charges lodged against him in Sweden.

In support of Mr. Assange, “an anonymous group of ‘hacktivists’, which is behind what it calls “Operation Payback”, claimed on Twitter that it was responsible for disrupting the credit card group’s (MasterCard’s) website.” [1]

Of course, I immediately thought of how secure are the United Kingdom’s web sites, especially those associated with Her Majesty’s Prison Service. If this group of “hacktivists” can disrupt, shutdown, and/or interrupt a sophisticated web site like MasterCard, one must be concerned about their governmental web site. I have some familiarity with HMPS and it is a very professional group of people. Yet with all of the new technology being developed and/or adapted, it is difficult for governmental agencies worldwide to keep up with the ever-evolving trends.

Read more…

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The Holiday Season – A Challenging Time of the Year in Correctional Facilities

November 19th, 2010

As the Holiday Season approaches, it is once again time to get ready for what can be the most challenging time for correctional facilities. It is challenging because the offenders are away from home during the Holiday Season, emotions run high, and at times logic is not present. How the facility is managed throughout this period of the year is crucial.

Positive /Proactive management will help diminish the Holiday doldrums experienced by the offenders and some staff. What does Positive/Proactive management mean? It means putting in place programmatic activities so that offenders may experience, as much as possible; a positive way of celebrating the holidays while not sacrificing the security of the facility

Holiday Season Programmatic Activities

Ø Establish a list of items that could be given to the offender population as gifts.

Ø Solicit from volunteer groups Holiday Cards for the offenders to send to their loved ones (to include postage). I have found that the religious groups are very willing to donate cards to the offenders.

Ø Have specialized programming during the Holiday Season for the offenders.

         Invite Civilian Choral Groups to come into the facility to perform.

         Develop an Offender Choral Group and/or Band that can perform for other offenders.

         Establish Special visitation hours throughout the Holiday Season, etc.

Ø Remind staff to be on the watch for offenders exhibiting the signs and symptoms of suicide.

Ø Remind staff to be on the watch for other staff members who may be having difficulties getting through the Holiday Season.

Ø Remind staff that offenders may be more reactive (violent) than normal – Nerves on edge.

Holiday Season Security Activities

Ø Conduct numerous targeted shakedowns

Ø Conduct a mini- security audit of the entire facility, paying special attention to the following areas:

¨ Kitchen

¨ Industrial Area (Shops)

¨ Offender Living Areas

Ø Remind staff to use all their senses of sight, hearing (listening), smell.

Ø Insist on strict accountability of all materials that can be used to make (hooch, pruno) jailhouse booze.  

Ø Carefully observe of the offender population.

¨ Gang activities increase (Introduction of contraband –drugs, alcohol, cell phones, debt collections/assaults, etc.)

¨ The older offender population remain in their cells if they believe that there is going to be trouble.

Ø Strict enforcement of contraband policies and procedures is essential

¨ Start random pat down searches

¨ Thoroughly search  all incoming packages


¨ Use drug sniffing dogs

o   In offender living areas

o   In the visitor reception area

o   In the kitchen

o   In the shops

o   In common areas

o   In the outside recreation yards

Ø There should be enhanced perimeter security and increased outside patrol activities

¨ Have security officers and drug dogs search all outside areas prior to the offenders having access to them.

¨ Increase Outside Patrol Activities

o   Check perimeter fencing for materials stuck in fences

o   Check perimeter fencing for cuts in the materials

o   Insure that patrols are not routine – In fact, have the outside patrol become erratic so that no one will ever be able to determine where and when the patrol will be in one place.

o   Add additional patrols periodically

Ø Strictly enforce all disciplinary rules. Take the “bad actors” off the street if they are acting out.


One last caution! Carefully observe offenders after telephone calls and/or visits. I have experienced situations when offenders “went off” or became “seriously depressed” after having a troublesome telephone call or visits. 


The Holiday Season has always been a challenging time for correctional facilities. Understanding that this season can be difficult, it is incumbent for correctional administrators and staff to take steps to prevent, if possible, or mitigate any issues that may arise. As Benjamin Franklin said, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Now I have to sign off and think of ways to avoid putting up the Christmas decorations.


 Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Seasons Greetings

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Update The Juvenile Justice Systems – Now!

August 19th, 2010

This article may cause discomfort or perhaps even anger among some people in the Juvenile Justice Community.  Let me start by saying, I believe that the current American Juvenile Justice System is outdated.  In my opinion, many of the Juvenile Justice Systems are still employing social work principles and treatment methodologies of the 1960’s, 1970’s, and the 1980’s. – in short, the Father Flanagan (Founder of Boy’s Town) philosophy: “There’s no such thing as a bad boy” [1], when in reality there are some really bad boys and girls.

The incorrigible juveniles, runaways, habitual truants, etc., that composed the juvenile delinquent population of the past are not the offenders filling juvenile institutions today. Many of today’s juvenile offenders have committed violent crimes and require a different type of incarceration that includes intensive (personalized) treatment and educational programs.  As a society, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye on these out of control juveniles.

I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s and I knew some boys who were sent to reform school for excessive truancy, car theft, and petty theft. Today, these crimes would not even get a second look by most criminal justice agencies. As a police sergeant in the 1970’s, I worked extensively with juveniles. Then in the mid-1990’s, I once again had the opportunity to work with juveniles who had been adjudicated as adults and sentenced to adult prisons. It was working with the sad and difficult youthful offenders’ population that I came to the realization that the current Juvenile Justice System was missing its mark. I spent hours interviewing and just talking with these youthful offenders, listening to their stories of how they could manipulate the juvenile system, the school system, and their parents (if the parents even played any role in their lives).

What I believe is needed for the Juvenile Justice System is a comprehensive overhaul where those juveniles who are convicted of minor offences and are under a certain age can receive the care that they need in a juvenile facility. Additionally, I believe that there needs to be another stage, a hybrid youthful offender/adult correctional system that would concentrate on the needs of youthful offenders. Youth offenders are persons between the ages of thirteen and nineteen who have committed serious crimes. This hybrid correctional system, using data (good and bad) that has been collected from youthful offender programs in adult facilities,  and high security juvenile facilities, would be created as an entirely new correctional environment, to include programming where these violent youthful offenders could be incarcerated.

In cases that involve this juvenile population, the criminal justice system has one and perhaps two chances to help these juveniles get their lives straightened out. If the Criminal Justice System fails, many of these juveniles will follow a path of crime doing life (in jails and prisons) on the installment plan (2 years here, 5 years there, etc.).

To develop this hybrid youthful offender correctional system, there will need to be a basic change in the way society, especially in the criminal justice system, views juveniles who commit serious crimes. Since its inception the juvenile court has metered out “justice” while adhering to the parens patriae philosophy (A doctrine that grants the inherent power and authority of the state to protect persons who are legally unable to act on their own behalf.)[2]

Some basic changes that I would recommend when dealing with this population are:

– The title for offenders twelve years of age or under would be juveniles.

– The title for offenders thirteen to nineteen would be youthful offenders.

– There should be Extensive “Baseline Testing” upon entry into the CJ formal system. What I mean by “Baseline Testing” is the development of a comprehensive understanding of the offender. The “Baseline Testing” package should include; cognitive, psychosocial, extensive physical, dental, and emotional. It is my deep seeded belief that with this comprehensive testing the CJ system would have a complete picture of the offender and his/her needs. If this testing is not conducted, I believe, we are just throwing good money away. Too often the criminal justice system uses the shotgun approach to treatment; they put everyone through the same programs, rather than tailoring the programs to the needs of the offenders. Yes, it is expensive, but so is having the same people come back to prison over and over.

There are those who will disagree with this approach to re-tooling the Juvenile Justice System to meet the needs of today’s youth. I believe that my approach is worth a serious try. There should be an evaluation tool built into the program that measures the success of each element of the program.

Some additional thoughts for a youthful offender program are:

– Develop “highly structured” programs where initially the offender(s) day is highly structured.  As the offenders progress through the program, the structure begins to be taken away.

– Integrate educational programs (academic, technical, and vocational) into the youthful offender program; this is crucial. Rules of the school must be strictly enforced and offenders can receive official write-ups for both academic and behavior issues.

– Develop a comprehensive reentry program that is highly structured. The re-entry program must have all of the necessary elements in place and be operational prior to the youthful offenders’ release. One of the elements that should be part of a reentry program is the ability for offenders to call back to the institution and speak to institutional personnel with whom they had worked when they were incarcerated. Most correctional agencies have policies and procedures about communicating with offenders after they have left the institution, so there would have to be some new policies and procedures clearly outlining how the staff would conduct themselves when dealing with youthful offenders who have been released. (My rationale for recommending this post incarceration communication is because the institutional personnel build relationships with these youthful offenders and can give them guidance even after their release.)

When appropriate, youthful offenders should be permitted to live on their own. There are some people who think I have lost my mind by suggesting that youthful offenders be permitted to live apart from their parents, etc. Well, I am a realist and in various cases the offender’s parents are part of their problem (the parents are addicts, violent and abusive, and/or involved in criminal activities). The offenders’ parole officers could conduct unannounced checks on them to insure that they are following the rules.

Provide specialized training for all staff who will be working with youthful offenders. The areas that I believe must be part of this specialized training are:

·         Adolescent Development

·         Conflict Resolution

·         Goal setting

·         Tattoo removal program

·         Anti-gang programs

The time to make the changes in the Juvenile Justice System is now. Most of the current state systems are struggling to keep their heads above water. They (the states) continue to fall further and further behind in treating, rehabilitating, or punishing violent juvenile offenders. I have given up looking at statistics because I no longer believe them. News, web sites, and common sense tell us that street gangs are growing larger and spreading into suburban and rural communities.

As an example: according to the WIKI research web site, 16-24 for males however it is only an average as they are at their peak strength at this age.” [3] People who work with street gangs report that the street gangs are recruiting younger or junior members to their gangs. They do this to take advantage of the Juvenile Justice System and the way it treats juvenile offenders.  

Society has the right to be safe from violent youth. The Juvenile Justice System should not be a swinging  door where offenders released are  no better, perhaps worse, than when they were incarcerated. States have to stop trying to conduct youthful offenders rehabilitation on the “cheap”. This new Youthful Offender Program that I am proposing will not be cheap to initiate and operate. What must be considered is what is being spent on incarcerating adults and juveniles today; furthermore, there must be evaluation methodologies in place prior to initiating this new Youthful Offender Program.

It has been over 100 years since the Juvenile Justice System has had an intensive comprehensive up-dating. Recently there was a news article that reported that girls are reaching puberty at an earlier age.  New research adds further evidence that girls are entering puberty at younger and younger ages, with implications for their physical and mental health. By 8-years-old, more than 1-in-10 girls have already begun developing breasts, which marks the technical start of puberty for girls, according to a new study published Monday in the Journal of Pediatrics. [4] The street gangs are recruiting younger or “junior” members to gangs. They do this to take advantage of the Juvenile Justice System because it is more lenient in the way it treats juvenile offenders.

I truly believe that an updating of the Juvenile Justice System is necessary. Furthermore, I believe that Juvenile Justice Systems need to incorporate a Youthful Offender Program in their incarceration and treatment model. The kids of today are sophisticated when it comes to “street smarts”. The Juvenile Justice Systems must adapt to the changes in society.










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Integrity and The Correctional Professional

July 12th, 2010

The other day I had an opportunity to think about the topic of Integrity and the Correctional Professional. I guess I just assumed that the two areas went together like peanut butter and jelly. All correctional professionals, I am sure, believe they have Integrity and they probably do in the philosophical sense.  Where I believe correctional professionals’ integrity is tested is in the ‘real world’ application of integrity. As I probed my logic, I started to question, what does integrity in a correctional setting mean – specifically!

I looked-up the definition of integrity:

1. Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

2. The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

3. A sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull. [1]

 When I looked at the definition, I thought, of course the correctional professionals MUST have integrity to perform their duties and responsibilities. Society has entrusted correctional professionals with the custody and care of criminals who have been found guilty by the courts. Their sentences to correctional institutions is society’s way of punishing them for their criminal activities.

My experience has demonstrated to me that your integrity “inside the walls” is as important to you as it is to offenders. Offenders will soon size you up and test the boundaries of your personal integrity.

Correctional professionals who let their personal integrity slip will loathe themselves more that the offenders will. The offenders will just take great enjoyment in bringing them down.

I have seen good correctional professionals lose their way (integrity) and end-up as offenders themselves, and who had be to housed in Protective Custody Units, their lives in complete ruin.

Integrity for correctional professionals manifests itself via multiple dimensions.  Each day the integrity of every correctional professional is measured by multiple groups of people:

·        Other correctional employees

·        Offenders

·        Families of offenders

·        The criminal justice system

·        General public

Each of the groups will test the integrity of the correctional professional from different directions. 

Read more…


The First Line Supervisor: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

July 3rd, 2010

In the field of criminal justice, there is a group of dedicated men and women who receive very little recognition for their hard work – and they are The First Line Supervisors. The first line supervisor is the first rung on the supervisory ladder and most often leads to management positions in the future. It is the first line supervisors who ensure that the agency’s policies are followed by their subordinates and that the agency’s procedures for conducting business are adhered to by everyone working in the field.

The first line supervisor is the bridge between the line staff and management. The first line supervisor is the person who communicates with both of these groups on a continuous basis. It is the first line supervisor who is first to be able to sense the morale of the line staff, find a policy or procedure that is not working as written, improve incorrect staffing patterns, or to observe changes in the make-up of the offenders, etc.

In the majority of emergency situations, it is the first line supervisor who is first on the scene and the one who has to take immediate action. While these incidents are taking place, the first line supervisors will need to depend on their training, education, and experience.  Whether it is a law enforcement or correctional situation it is the first line supervisor who must direct his/her subordinates as to what actions they should take. For a period of time, the weight and future implication of the incidents fall upon the shoulders of the first line supervisors. Read more…

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Lesson Learned From the BP Oil Leak?

June 21st, 2010

First my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast. Throughout my career I have made many friends in that area. It is my sincere desire that they can develop a method for capping the leak.

What have we in the field criminal justice learned from the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico? I believe that there are several lessons that can be translated from this horrible misfortune to the fields of criminal justice, private security, and emergency planning and management.

Lessons Learned

Read more…


Drug Gangs Now Constitute Para-Military/Terrorist Groups

April 21st, 2010

The governments of the  United States and Mexico are at  war with the drug gangs. There should not be any mistake that what is happening on the Mexican border is a war. Another misnomer is that all of the violence is happening on the Mexican side of the border. The violence has spilled across the border into Texas, Arizona, California, and beyond.

Mexican drug cartels have recruited street and prison gangs. These criminal groups over the past few years have morphed into para-military/terrorist organizations. They are heavily armed with military weapons. They are employing military tactics to ambush police, politicians and others.

The Mexican drug cartels are employing the  terror tactics of kidnapping, hostage taking, be-headings, and extreme torturing of their victims prior to killing them. These people use extreme violence for one purpose only greed. They feed this greed by selling drugs all over the world. These Gangs do not adhere to the Geneva Convention or, for that matter to any degree of human decency – they are cold blooded murderers.

These drug gangs have attacked prisons and local jails to free their fellow gang members and/or leaders. Criminal justice personnel from every division of the criminal justice family (Law Enforcement, Courts, and Corrections) and politicians have become the favored targets of the drug games. I believe that they have chosen these groups because by killing police, etc. they instill fear and terror in the general public. If the police cannot control the streets during the daylight, what hope does a normal citizen have against the ruthless, greed driven killers? In an effort to get the violence under control, the Mexican Government has sent in its military. Even with a significant military presence, the murder and violence continues, practically unabated. Just last week the drug gang violence spread to Mexico’s tourist area of Acapulco. This war has had a devastating affect on the Mexican economy and quality of life.  Yet, there are a great many people making untold amounts of money. “Certainly at the marco level , there is a lot of money flowing into Mexico and a lot of people, from bankers and businessmen to political parties and politicians, are benefiting from the massive influx of cash. The lure of this lucre shapes how many Mexicans (particulary many of the Mexican elite) view narcotics trafficking.. It is, frankly, a good time to be a banker, real estate developer or a Rolex dealer in Mexico.” [1]

Over the past year or more the war has continued to escalate and now the United States is feeling the effects of the extreme violence.  I believe that the time is fast approaching when the United States will soon have to face the fact that this phenomenon (war) has surpassed the bounds of criminal activities and has entered into the boundaries of para-military/terrorists.

Jails and prisons, both private and public, will be required to prepare emergency plans detailing what steps they must take should they be attacked. Private companies that are used to incarcerating detainees for the various Federal government law enforcement agencies (ICE, USMS, etc.) may find themselves in a rather precarious position:

– Should they be attacked by one of these para-military/terrorist groups, without question, deadly force will have to be used – are they covered?

– Do they have adequate training to respond to such an attack?

– Are the private jail and prison personnel armed properly? From personal experience, a year or so ago, I was astonished to see how inadequately armed they were. Hopefully, that has changed.

– Have they identified who would be providing their back-up and how long will it take for that back-up to arrive?

(These recomenations also apply to public jails and prisons. My experience in public jails and prisons leads me to believe that  public jails and prisons are better armed than the private ones.)

As I have written before, should your facility come under attack you should remember:

= The attack has been planned in detail.

= The attack will be conducted on a comprehensive timetable.

= The attack could be one of stealth (As the one in Mexico was when the attackers drove up to the prison in police cars and they were let in.)

= The attack could be extremely “hard hitting” where the attackers will use explosives plus light and heavy weapons fire. It is not unusual for these para-military/terrorists to use machine guns and hand grenades.

= The attackers have no problem  with killing people.

One has to wonder just how far this war will go. The Mexican government is putting up a valiant fight,but I do not see where they are winning. These drug gangs now have become emboldened enough to become para-military/terrorist groups with a thirst for more power and more money. I would not be surprised if someday in the near future our Southwestern border returns to its wild west roots.

[1] Stewart, Scott, Stratford (Global Security & Intelligence Report) April 8, 2010   (

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