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Posts Tagged ‘corrections officers’

Weaving Positive Meaning

June 2nd, 2013

Many of us tend to be meaning-seekers, wanting to be a positive influence in our world. Meaning is the fuel that keeps us going, what gives our life flavor, richness and purpose—what makes ourlife worth living.

What we pursue, how we invest our waking hours, what fills our dreams, even whether we have dreams at all, makes a critical difference in our quality of life and even our health.

And for many, many reasons (I am sure you can name a few!), corrections is the type of work that challenges staff deep and hard regarding the creation and maintenance of positive meaning. In the field of corrections, positive meaning does not grow freely on trees all on its own while you are sleeping. Rather, it requires persistent breaking of fallow ground, digging rocks out of the soil, fertilizing and watering, and pulling stubborn weeds that make a comeback seemingly overnight.  It also requires coming back and doing this again and again after periods of drought, heat waves, storms and freezing cold.

Creating positive meaning in corrections, and hanging on to it day after day and year after year, is nothing less than heroic. It requires learning to see courageously with new eyes. It requires to relentlessly keep sifting, looking for grains of gold in the mud of a river bed. For they are there, waiting to be found.

For many years now I have seen that staff flourish when they learn to infuse even routine or menial work with positive significance. These workers learn to not take themselves too seriously, to not fall in love with their image or power or what others think of them, and to do their job to the best of their ability on any given day.

The ones I’ve seen doing gloriously are those who have learned to find goodness and beauty, and to be thankful (and even grateful) for little things and big things and everything in between — even for things that do not look good and that are hard to be thankful for at first.  These are the ones who have also learned to forgive and to keep going after hard times.

So, how do you go about creating positive meaning for yourself?

Here are some suggestions.

  • Look for the beauty in the gift of every moment.
  • Tap into what inspires you to be the best you can be.
  • Remember the ones you are providing for by doing this work.
  • Actively contribute to the welfare of others and the common good.
  • Remember that you are afforded the opportunity to influence people’s lives, communities, and even generations to come through your work, choices and actions.
  • Relish the pursuit of acts of courage, civility and integrity.
  • Celebrate every shred of progress in yourself and others. (Ban Perfectionism!)
  • Aim to influence coworkers and offenders positively through your professionalism, integrity and ethics.
  • Model behaviors you want to see in others.
  • Seek input from others who have what you want.
  • Seek honest feedback from colleagues with whom you interact frequently.
  • Highlight success stories and share with others.
  • Point out to others the skillfulness required of corrections professionals of all disciplines. During the workday you and your colleagues may employ skills related to psychology, social work, public health, education, cheer-leading, motivational interviewing, mentoring, law enforcement and warfare.
  • Whenever you get discouraged at work, think of how far you’ve come in terms of your skill development regarding managing yourself and managing others.
  • Whenever you face your fears and stand your ground and do the right thing, give yourself credit for being courageous.
  • Whenever you persevere in the pursuit of your goals in spite of disappointments, you demonstrate your courage, grit and gumption.
  • Whenever you assist offenders within policy, you impact them positively.
  • Whenever you exercise self-control in the face of provocation, you are commendable, acting truly as a mature, wise adult.
  • Whenever you choose to see the silver lining in the cloud, you are winning the battle of the mind, remaining optimistic and in control of your attitude.
  • Whenever you support colleagues and help them do a better job, you offer them gifts of teamwork and caring, and you reinforce why you are an asset to your profession.
  • Whenever you choose to inspire, mentor, or otherwise encourage your colleagues, you contribute to the creation of a positive workplace climate, and you inject positive meaning in others’ lives.
  • Whenever you choose to take the high road after you encounter injustice—choosing to not return evil for evil, but to do the right thing —you win what may be the most important battle of all, the spiritual one.

So ask yourself:

  1. What do I want to accomplish through my life and influence, including my family life and my corrections employment?
  2. What do I want to be my predominant mood and attitude, the mood and attitude I am best known by?
  3. How can I impact people positively in my family and at my workplace on a daily basis?
  4. How can I create positive ripple effects in my community through my day-to-day actions?
  5. How might my work and my actions have a positive impact for generations to come?
  6. How can I best respond when I accomplish something that to me is significant and noteworthy, yet nobody commends me for it or nobody even notices?
  7. How do I “bounce back” from disappointment and bitterness when confronted with what, to me, seems to be injustice towards me or others?
  8. How can I “refuel”—go from becoming discouraged to being encouraged again (in-courage)? What can I tell myself to accomplish that? What actions can I take?
  9. How do I move past and even grow from my failures, my poor judgment and my mistakes, so that I can continue living out my most precious convictions, principles and values?
  10. What kind of life do I need to be pursuing intentionally today to feel like I am fully alive?

admin Uncategorized , ,

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). http://www.correctionsfatigue.com/images/PTSD_Prev_in_Corrections_2012.pdf Read more…

ctudor PTSD , ,

A Solid Partner

August 3rd, 2010

Printed with permission.
I thought I would write an article similar to “the old Screw” to tell what 20 years in Australian Corrections has done to me, my wife and family. She has been a solid partner. Unfortunately, I cannot say I have been the same to her or my children.

I have just retired prematurely, diagnosed with PTSD from an incident 12 years ago that, if recognized at the time, I could have sought help for.

Read more…

ctudor PTSD, family , , ,

Hints for Supervisors

April 14th, 2010

A lot is written on leadership. Here is some input from leaders’ followers, seasoned corrections officers, as to what they need from their supervisors. Many thanks to all of you who contributed!

Dear readers, you are welcome to add yours in the comment section.

My best supervisor:
1. Pointed out our strengths
2. Used our strengths
3. Rewarded our strengths
4. Trained us regarding our weaknesses
5. Was a good listener
6. Allowed us to vent and voice our opinion

Read more…

ctudor Leadership , ,

“Shameful” Secret? Post-traumatic Symptoms in the Corrections Ranks

March 15th, 2010

The anecdotes presented below are used with permission. Some details are changed. If your own issues get triggered as a result of reading this, please see suggestions for help at the end of the article.

When I began talking and counseling with corrections personnel in the year 2000, I noticed that several of them suffered from post-traumatic symptoms. Some even exhibited full-blown PTSD, often self-medicated with alcohol.

I also noticed that, in the proud corrections culture, staff abhorred to admit that they had been negatively affected by traumatic work experiences. They’d often say, “I’m good. It was just an inmate.” But their eyes had the 2,000-yard stare. Read more…

ctudor PTSD , ,

Stopping Correctional Worker Suicide

March 1st, 2010

The corrections field is plagued with the scourge of staff suicide. Recent statistics from New Jersey show that corrections officers commit suicide at over double the rates of police officers and the general population. From 2003 through 2007, for males ages 25-64, per 100,000 the suicide rate for C.O.s was 34.8, for police 15.1, and for the general population 14.0. (http://www.state.nj.us/lps/library/NJPoliceSuicideTaskForceReport-January-30-2009-Final(r2.3.09).pdf.) Read more…

ctudor Staff Suicide , , ,

We Are All Brothers and Sisters

January 18th, 2010

This is a short article written by one of Desert Waters’volunteers who likes to go by the name “The Old Screw.” The Old Screw has worked for 35 years in penitentiaries in three states. You can read more of his articles at http://www.desertwaters.com/f-old_screw.htm.

We who work in corrections are all brothers and sisters no matter what country we live in and work for. We have similar issues to deal with in our chosen profession. Will we live through the shift? Although it is not talked about much, this is a thought in every Correctional Officer’s mind. Will we leave the shift with the same number of body parts we started the shift with, and will they still be in good condition? Will it be a quiet shift or will we have to fight? Read more…

ctudor Encouragement

How Do You Train for This?

January 9th, 2010

The C.O. looked tough—what I lightheartedly like to call “the testosterone overload type”—and very professional. I knew he was a veteran who had seen it all during his 13-year corrections career—inmate murders, drug overdoses, beatings, stabbings, and staff assaults. What came out of his mouth though, and the tears that periodically welled up in his eyes, told a story that is rarely voiced.

As I sat listening to this warrior-like officer, I tried putting myself in his place. I ended up flooded with sorrow for the human condition, anger at evil, and a sense of urgency to be of assistance to this individual. Read more…

ctudor 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…

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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…

ctudor Corrections Fatigue ,