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Posts Tagged ‘security’

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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H1N1 Virus (Pandemic) Planning: Play It Safe-Over-Plan

September 17th, 2009

H1N1 Virus (Pandemic) Planning: Play It Safe-Over-Plan

Wm. Bill McNeice Sturgeon

There has been a great deal written about the H1N1 virus (aka Swine Flu). There are articles spanning the medical gamut from who should be immunized to when schools should be closed. Everything that I have read has beeninsightful and useful. I will incorporate much of the  information that gleaned from my research into this article. This article is being written as a WARNING for correctional facilities and/or places where people live in close contact with each other (juvenile facilities, college dormitories.) H1N1 virus may, like the Y2K alarm, turn out to be a big bust, or it may turn out to be the most significant medical event in recent memory. It is better to be prepared than to be caught unprepared. Read more…

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From Gitmo To A Place Near YOU!: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

August 25th, 2009

It appears that the “powers-to-be” cannot find countries (allies) who are willing to take the remainder of the terrorist/prisoners currently being held at the Military Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So, they, the “powers-to-be”, are looking at prisons here in the Continental United States (CONUS) where they can incarcerate these troublesome terrorist/prisoners.  Read more…

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Is Your Contingency Plan “Operationally Realistic, Part 1

July 1st, 2009

Over the years, I have reviewed numerous emergency/contingency plans. The majority of them looked good on paper, they were well written, numbered appropriately, covered all of the applicable industry standards, etc., yet they left me with the feeling that, if needed, they would be “operationally” impractical. So I started using the following matrix.

The matrix that I use, requires the reviewer to closely examine every element of the plan. Since the events of September 11, 2001, emergency plans have taken (or should have taken) on several new dimensions, which will be discussed indepth in Part II of this article.

The matrix that I use can be applied to  new plans expand existing plans, or can be used to review current plans. It is composed of four major sections and they are:

Read more…

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Tried and True – Back to Basics

June 16th, 2009

BTB-Recommendation #1. Key Rotation

Do not forget to rotate your security keys. At least twice a year rotate the facilities’ operational keys with the emergency keys so that they wear equally.

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