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Archive for the ‘Corrections Fatigue’ Category

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

Maximize Your Chances to Win!

December 31st, 2009

This is an email sent to me by a former correctional officer, who gave me permission to share it with others. It is very sobering as it raises the issue of responsibility for our own well-being. Read it and remember that you do have choices. If you don’t already, start taking care of your physical, psychological and spiritual needs actively and consistently. Nobody else can do it for you.

The gate slams behind you as you enter the prison. You take a deep breath as you prepare for the day ahead. Let the games begin!

Each day becomes a day of survival spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. The money is good. The job provides “security”(boy, isn’t that a play on words!).

But for the money and security there is a heavy price to pay for many. Their world becomes no different than that of the prisoners—hopeless, worrisome, painful, fearful. Many officers say “I do my eight and skate,” but is that statement really true?

Read more…

Corrections Fatigue , , ,

Good Officer but Mistrusting Person

December 15th, 2009

The writer of this email captures beautifully an aspect of Corrections Fatigue, the gradual negative changes in correctional staff due to the nature of their work environment. It is also noteworthy to me that this Officer clearly has a servant’s heart in spite of everything else going on in his life. He went out of his way to find the owner of the lost purse and to deliver it to her. Way to go!

I thought I would share a recent experience with you which is indicative of the way people become when working in Corrections.

The other night at work I noticed an inmate duress alarm (a red light that glows on a control panel) shortly after my shift had started. Read more…

Corrections Fatigue ,

The California Vent

November 23rd, 2009

This is a letter sent our way a few  months ago.  A trusted colleague who also works at California Dept. of C orrections & Rehabilitation said this about it:  This is an absolute factual account of prison life.  The author has done an excellent job of describing the conditions inside of California’s prisons, while pointing out the inequities between felons and working people, with the felons receiving all the benefits, while we work responsibly only to be burdened by paycuts.  Excellently done.

As a California Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) employee, I have had my fill with the statements being made in the media about how the overpaid state employees (prison guards) are draining the state’s budget, and how the poor inmates (convicted FELONS) are dropping like flies due to substandard medical care and brutal living conditions. Allow me to cast some light onto these shadowy areas with my ten plus years of insight behind the walls.

Read more…

Corrections Fatigue ,

Naked Truth

August 19th, 2009

A big part of the mission of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach ( is to draw attention to the high incidence of secondary traumatic stress and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the corrections ranks.

After talking with corrections staff and their family members for over 9 years now, I can say with reasonable certainty that a good number of correctional workers, especially security (custody) personnel, are struggling with symptoms of secondary traumatic stress or PTSD due to their exposure to horrifically violent incidents on the job. Read more…

Corrections Fatigue, PTSD ,

“Here’s My Rant…”

June 24th, 2009

Thanks to Desert Waters’ 24/7 hotline, the Corrections Ventline (phone 866-YOU-VENT and email, we get priceless communications from the trenches, like the one shared below (reprinted with permission). Even if we do not agree with everything this CO has to say, it will challenge us to stop and think. What is it like to work the front lines year in and year out? How does it shape the worker? How can the corrections system invest in COs to keep them functioning professionally and to help them maintain healthy lives on the outside? May we always remember that an  ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Here is my rant, my vent, my rambling, my words…
Read more…

Corrections Fatigue ,

Behind the Mask

May 31st, 2009

Desert Waters Correctional Outreach exists because our experiences with corrections employees have led us to believe that, especially for staff with considerable offender contact, psycho-spiritual struggles are not a rarity.

Corrections staff operate in an environment of chronic stress, continual alertness, and the ever-present possibility of violence. Staff is exposed to violence in a multitude of ways, the impact of which adds up over time. They read about crimes in offender files, they view videos of assaults or riots for training purposes, they hear or read about assaults on the news, they witness such assaults firsthand, or they themselves become victims of violence. Gradually, this exposure, coupled with the high stress and need for continual watchfulness, breeds symptoms of psychological disturbance such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and secondary traumatic stress. As one of you said to me, “What I come across at work wounds my soul.” Read more…

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