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Home > Uncategorized > Integrity and The Correctional Professional

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. 

Other Correctional Employees

·        Other correctional employees may try to compromise the integrity of correctional professionals by approaching them to not follow policies and procedures, falsify reports, cover-up incidents, and/or lie!

For correctional professionals, as for all of us, there are two ways for us to compromise our integrity:

1.     The sin of Commission – You personally commit the violation which breaches your integrity. Example: you used excessive force.

 

2.     The sin of Omission is where you do not do the right thing. Example: Another staff member uses excessive force on an offender and you do not stop it, lie to cover it up, fail to report it, or falsify a report.

 

OFFENDERS

·        Offenders will use multiple methods and techniques to see if they can entrap correctional professionals.  Offenders try to have correctional professionals compromise their integrity for a variety of reasons:

1.     As entertainment and for their amusement

2.     To further their criminal activities within the correctional facility

3.     To gain control over the staff members

4.     To gain control over other offenders

5.     To facilitate an escape, assault, rape or murder

Regardless of what the reason, once a correctional professional compromises his/her integrity to offenders, that person is in serious trouble. If a correctional employee has compromised his/her integrity, the only thing left to do is report it to a supervisor or to the administration. Depending on how serious the issue, the correctional employee may be terminated, or worse, arrested. One thing is certain. The longer it takes a correctional employee to report his/her breakdown in his/her integrity, the more trouble he/her can get into.

Families of Offenders

Correctional professionals can compromise their integrity when dealing with offenders’ families when they fail to step up to the plate and tell it like it is.

Correctional professionals on occasion have to interface with offenders’ families. When these occasions take place, the offenders’ families are totally dependent on the correctional professional. Therefore, the correctional professional should:

1.     Always be as truthful as possible

2.     Commit only to what they know they can deliver

3.     Avoid promises

4.     On no account “candy coat” reality

5.     By no means become “personally” involved with an offender’s family

While the correctional professional may feel sorry for the family members, it is wrong to mislead them. Most people can deal with the truth, even though they may not like it. Sometimes correctional employees take the easy way out and are not 100% truthful with the families of offenders.

The Criminal Justice System

Correctional professionals can compromise their integrity when dealing with others elements of the Criminal Justice System when they fail to follow the laws, policies and procedures for:

1.     The exchange of information

2.     When they withhold important information about an offender

In an effort to “get along” with other members of the criminal justice system, correctional professionals can compromise their integrity. Example: a local jail incarcerates an offender without the proper paper work. If the correctional professional does this one time, it could easily become the rule, not the exception.  

 

General Public

Correctional professionals can compromise their professional integrity by not conducting themselves as professionals and performing their duties in a professional way. Additionally, correctional professionals should always adhere to the policies and procedures of their agencies.

The general public expects correctional professionals to:

  1. Protect the general public from convicted offenders
  2. Provide for the humane custody of offenders while they are in custody
  3. Attempt to rehabilitate  offenders while they are in custody

 

Summary

Integrity in the field of corrections is one of the characteristics that helps separate the correctional professionals from the offenders they are charged with incarcerating.  Every time I hear of a professional in the criminal justice system compromising his/her integrity, it troubles me deeply. When this happens, the person who has compromised his/her integrity has let down the entire criminal justice system, all the men and women who daily place their lives on the line. Every time anyone in the criminal justice system compromises their integrity they betray the public’s trust and weaken the entire system.

1.http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/integrity+

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billsturgeon Uncategorized

  1. Kathy Marshall
    July 13th, 2010 at 09:05 | #1

    You are so right Old Man integrity is key.To survive and thrive in the prison environment you need to be different to the kept. You need to be held to a higher standard and be above reproach or you will soon be no different than them. There is a fine line between you and them!! Be a leader not a follower. Do the right thing! Go and show the offenders that honest people can be trusted and that there is a better way of life than being in the criminal justice system. Teach them to question their actions by asking ” How is this working for you?” Make them want to be like you but better. There is life after prison but if you always do what you have always done then you will always get what you have always gotten. This is a Dr.Phil McGraw saying but it true. Think about it. Have a great day Bill. Keep up the wonderful sharing of your expertise.

  2. July 14th, 2010 at 15:11 | #2

    Kathy:
    Thank you. You demonstrated being a professional everyday you came to work.

  3. UNKNOWN
    May 23rd, 2011 at 22:33 | #3

    I’VE WORKED WITH THE CRIMINAL MINDED FOR OVER 15 YEARS AND IT NEVER AMAZES ME ON HOW FAR A PERSON WILL GO TO HAVE AN OFFICER TERMINATED, (HOOK), (LINE) AND (SINKER.) WE AS CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THE INMATES WE ARE CARING FOR HAS ONLY ONE THING ON MIND…..FREEDOM. LADIES, DON’T BE HESITANT TO REPORT ANY INMATE WHO SAYS (HEY, YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CARES FOR US….I WISH MY WIFE LOOKED LIKE YOU………..I CAN REALLY TALK TO YOU……….THESE ARE ONLY TRAITS OF THE GAME. THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW, YOU ARE STANDING EITHER IN FRONT OF A JUDGE OR THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE, DON’T BE A FOOOOOOL.

  4. April 22nd, 2012 at 17:23 | #4

    I conceive other website owners should take this site as an example, very clean and great user friendly design.

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