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Archive for May, 2009

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…

Corrections Fatigue , ,

Creating Happiness

May 31st, 2009

When asked want they want out of life, most people would say that they want to be happy or that they want their loved ones to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is even at the heart of the Constitution of the United States of America.

The million dollar question however for most of us is, how do we go about successfully pursuing and finding happiness in our everyday lives?

According to psychologist Martin Seligman, Ph.D., there are three distinct routes to attaining happiness. Read more…

Smart Living , ,

They Look to YOU!

May 31st, 2009

After completing basic training, new correctional employees are pumped, all excited about getting started on the job. Yet deep down they may wonder how they’ll prove their mettle, if they’ll react professionally to crises, if they’ll remain firm, fair and consistent in the face of day-to-day pressures. They know that theory is one thing, but practice is quite another. 

You—the supervisors and other veteran staff—are the ones the rookies look to. You are the ones who flesh out the lessons taught at the Academy. You are the ones who model to newbies how it all plays out in real life. 

Your responsibility and opportunities in this regard are enormous. You have been given the privilege of “professional formation” of correctional staff who are  the future of corrections. Read more…

Boundaries , , ,

Secondary Traumatic Stress

May 31st, 2009

During the course of his 15-year career in corrections, Marv has watched a multitude of videos of riots, and incidents of inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff violence. He has also witnessed many such incidents first-hand. He’s had to cut several inmates down who had attempted or completed suicide by hanging. Years later, Marv vouches that nothing that he sees at work upsets him. He has learned to live in a cocoon of detachment, insulated from outside events and from his emotions. His loved ones at home tell him that he’s distant, uncaring, “cold.” Once in awhile though, horrific images visit him in his sleep, and cause him to awaken startled, his heart racing.  Read more…

PTSD , , ,

Thriving in Corrections

May 30th, 2009

Whenever I come across well-functioning correctional staff, I ask them about the “secret of their success.” Here is some of what I’ve heard over the years. It is divided in three categories which correspond to the three areas DWCO targets in its mission—the occupational, personal and family well-being of corrections staff. Read more…

Smart Living , , ,