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Archive for April, 2009

Pandemic Panic?

April 30th, 2009

The potential of a pandemic outbreak of the swine flu is something that should be given very serious consideration.  This is especially true for those of us who work in a closed area with many people.

“I work in a Petri dish”, a friend once remarked to me.  And she was really not kidding.  As an education professional,  her phrasing was apt.  During flu season, it seems that almost everyone in a school succumbs to a health issue of some sort.  Corrections staff are generally in the same position.  Close quarters and many people make it inevitable that illnesses spreads.  Read more…

Inside Out

Just say “negative”

April 30th, 2009



NEGATIVE – neg’ . a . tiv – a denial of permission, a refusal, a veto.



Her voice on the telephone sounded defeated and beleaguered.  Although I could not see her face, I knew that her eyes would reveal a quite desperation. And she was trapped by her sharing spirit, helpless in the grip of her own inclination to be a helper.


“I wish someone would just teach me how to say ‘no’,” is what she said.  These were the words of a very active person who simply added one too many volunteer activities to her already full plate. 


I said to her, “One of the most common words used at work is no. Would you like me to teach you how to be more assertive in relaying that sentiment?”


“Yes, please,” she said with enthusiasm.


“Well, you failed your first test. You did not say ‘no’,” I replied playfully.


Talking about denying a request makes me think deeper about the nature of the word ‘no’.  It is so much more than a monosyllabic refutation.   The word carries a variety of psychological and physical reactions.  Read more…

Self Scrutiny

Cell phones – the new contraband

April 23rd, 2009


Quite simply, cell phones are the new contraband.  This is not a case of rich kids with expensive gadgets.  Cell phones are ubiquitous and inexpensive.


The danger that these technological wonders pose to corrections facilities is

great.  Corrections staff must acknowledge the potential harm that instant

communications in the wrong hands can cause.   


To add to the challenge of maintaining security for staff, offenders, and the

public, there is this additional nuance. As phones get smaller they gain

features. In other words, as cell phones gain more uses (and misuses) they

become harder to detect by corrections staff. 

With some clear tape applied to a concealment flap made from the altered pages, the cell phone is undetectable to the untrained eye.

With some clear tape applied to a concealment flap made from the altered pages, the cell phone can be rendered undetectable to the untrained eye.



Read more…

Contraband Control

Egg Hunt

April 17th, 2009

Sometimes we can be motivated by something like a chocolate covered espresso bean.  It is a unique incentive.  Can an egg accomplish the same purpose?

The following exercise complements any module on security issues.

Almost everyone did it.  We recall as children how we searched for eggs on a spring morning in our past.  The thrill of the chase spurred us on to find these multi colored little gems.  And the prize for most eggs found drove us to push forward diligently.

Read more…

Contraband Control, Training

Enjoy the apocalypse

April 17th, 2009

Potent plagues, widening war, rampaging nature, marauding meteors, alien attacks – And you thought that corrections had enough to contend with.

Despite our many challenges, we must acknowledge that we do not operate in a vacuum. Events from the outside will impact our operations, even if they never come to pass. Forecasts of the end of the world seem to prove this point.

Read more…

What the...?!?

The contraband search – Art or science?

April 17th, 2009

Whenever a contraband item is removed from a corrections setting, security becomes enhanced. This is true whether a weapon or a simple betting slip is taken out of circulation.

Of course, the weapon is a more obvious threat than the betting slip. However, small things can be traced to larger, seriously dangerous enterprises. It remains that all contraband has the potential to present peril to staff and prisoners.

Without question, security is the paramount goal of corrections. This is true regardless of the size or location of the worksite.

From the smallest local lockup in Alaska to the largest maximum-security facility in Florida, contraband’s ubiquity remains a dangerous truth.

Read more…

Contraband Control

Our Many Motivations

April 2nd, 2009

The importance of decision making in corrections is clear. How we operate on the job impacts the lives of our colleagues and those housed in our institutions. And while safety inside our facilities is important, the public is also a factor. Our vocational performance can be viewed on the backdrop of public safety.

There is no escaping the fact that all of us are faced with scores of decisions every day. Therefore, it behooves us to consider how we face decisions and what really motivates us.

Read more…

Staff relations