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Author Archive

New DWCO Data Collection Initiative

December 31st, 2013

We are inviting willing corrections professionals to complete assessment questions to help with an initiative to collect and analyze important information on the occupation-specific challenges and impact of corrections work.  Assessment completion is voluntary and it is to be done on staff’s own time and from their personal computers. Data are ultimately used to promote the health, well-being, functioning, and fulfillment of corrections professionals.

Read more…


Desert Waters’ PTSD Costs Estimator™

December 15th, 2012

Desert Waters’ PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) Costs EstimatorTM currently provides an estimate of costs to a corrections facility due to PTSD-related absenteeism, based on quantitative findings from the nationwide study of PTSD and health-related factors conducted by Desert Waters Correctional Outreach (DWCO). Read more…

PTSD , ,

Desert Waters Study–PTSD in US Corrections Professionals

December 15th, 2012

Here is the link to the write-up of Desert Waters’ national study of PTSD in US Corrections Professionals. 

The results raise grave concerns about corrections professionals’ health and functioning in relation to workplace exposure to violence, injury and death, and the costs of PTSD to staff, families, administrators and the profession.


Calibrating the First Part of the WCO

September 19th, 2012

We are currently collecting baseline sample data to calibrate our new Workplace Climate Optimizer™ for   Corrections (WCO)–a 10-day assessment and intervention program that evaluates work climate conditions in key content areas, introduces the systematic practice of effective behaviors, and proposes modifications as needed to optimize the health and functioning of the work environment.
We invite all employed corrections professionals who read this to please consider completing an online 49-item multiple-choice type questionnaire that inquires about aspects of their experiences in the corrections workplace in seven key content areas. The 49 questions are preceded by six non-identifying demographic questions. Participation is completely voluntary and anonymous. Read more…

Research, Workplace Climate ,

Corrections Fatigue Status Assessment V.2

June 27th, 2012

The CFSA has been improved and refined. It is now called the Corrections Fatigue Status Assessment™ (CFSA) v.2. It takes about 5 minutes to complete. Take it to see how you score. The CFSA can be accessed at the home page of .


Corrections Fatigue Self-Assessment™

May 24th, 2012

The Corrections Fatigue Self-Assessment™ (CFSA) is here!*oXsw

This instrument is a web-accessible software application that measures individual corrections employees’ Corrections Fatigue level anonymously and confidentially. It takes about seven minutes to complete. A score and its interpretation, with recommendations, are provided automatically upon completion of the assessment, and can be printed.

The CFSA can be completed as often as needed for the purpose of monitoring one’s Corrections Fatigue score following interventions such as Desert Waters’ Well-being Monitor or 7×7 Intervention, following utilization of EAP services or peer support activities, or following changes in working conditions or job assignment.

The CFSA is offered to individual corrections employees at no charge. It can also be administered anonymously to employees of an entire facility, agency or department to assess the Corrections Fatigue level of those employees and to identify areas that may need improvement through systemic interventions.


Sexual Exploitation of Female Offenders

May 24th, 2012

There was yet another mention in the press recently about the systematic and prolonged sexual exploitation of female inmates by male corrections staff.  The description of the inmates’ helplessness and victimization was almost too painful for me to read.  A question kept ringing in my ears, a question posed by corrections officials nationwide who are baffled as to why corrections workers would risk going to prison just to get some sexual gratification from offenders. Given the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (, staff who sexually assault offenders are subject to felony criminal charges punishable by prison sentences of their own and/or fines, as well as discipline by their corrections agency. However, those dire consequences do not seem to be sufficient to deter some corrections employees who contemplate engaging in sex acts with offenders. Why might this be so? Read more…

Boundaries, professionalism ,

Metal Fatigue as an Analogy for Corrections Fatigue

April 27th, 2012

In our signature training From Corrections Fatigue™ to Fulfillment, we talk about Corrections Fatigue being analogous to metal fatigue.  To understand what we mean by that we need to comprehend a little about what materials engineers call “metal fatigue.” Let’s see what Wikipedia says about metal fatigue, and examine how the concept of Corrections Fatigue parallels that phenomenon metaphorically.
In materials science, fatigue is the progressive and localized structural damage that occurs when a material … is subjected to repeated loading and unloading.
If the loads are above a certain threshold, microscopic cracks will begin to form at the surface. Eventually a crack will reach a critical size, and the structure will suddenly fracture. Read more…

Corrections Fatigue

Corrections Staff Well-being Programs–To Implement or Not?

February 1st, 2012

© Gregory Morton, Mike Denhof & Caterina Spinaris, 2012

This article examines issues that correctional agencies might consider when discussing the implementation of programs designed to prevent and remediate Corrections Fatigue and related organizational climate and staff well-being issues. Briefly, our qualifications for offering our perspectives on corrections staff’s well-being are the following: Gregory Morton has served at the Oregon Department of Corrections since 1975, including eight years as Staff Training Administrator. Concern for the professional and life skills of the corrections workforce has been his primary motivation throughout. Mike Denhof is a clinical research psychologist with over 12 years of  experience working in correctional and mental health settings, including extensive experience in inmate mental health and risk assessment, and general clinical-behavioral health and outcomes research. Mike has played a lead role in the development of clinical-behavioral assessment models for the State of Colorado, for multiple large behavioral health organizations (BHOs), and for numerous mental health centers, jails, and different types of correctional organizations. Caterina Spinaris is a licensed professional counselor and the founding director of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach, with 11 years of experience training and treating corrections staff and their family members. She is also the author of the book Staying Well: Strategies for Corrections Staff.

In our role as correctional employees we are problem solvers. We don’t like letting problems fester. We are trained to confront difficult situations. We are eager, sometimes even overly so, to address issues when we see them. We don’t like unfinished business or letting obvious oversights go uncorrected.

However, there is one historical predicament that impacts all of us but that none of us have ever addressed fully – the mental and emotional toll that the profession itself takes on its practitioners. Read more…

Corrections Fatigue, Leadership, PTSD

Dismantling Infatuations

December 7th, 2011

This article is based on conversations with a married friend caught in a web of an intoxicating attraction to a coworker. It is presented with my friend’s permission.

You called me in a frantic state of mind, rightfully frightened about what seemed to you to be an irresistible attraction to a married fellow worker. You could not understand how you, a straight-laced, conservative woman could have been flooded with what felt to you like overwhelming romantic fantasies about your colleague. You described spending hours obsessing about that person, wondering why you were “in love” with him, and what you should do about it. Read more…

Boundaries, family ,