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Archive for June, 2009

Issues of trust in corrections part II – The trust tune up

June 24th, 2009



How often does the average person think about the motor in their car?  The engine, though essential, is forgotten when it works well and without strange noises. However, when the oil light comes on in the dash board, there is a sudden sense of alarm.


Read more…

Self Scrutiny, Staff relations

Mixed Mendacity – A training exercise

June 24th, 2009


It behooves us to reach outside of corrections from time to time and draw inspirations from other sources.  Mixed Mendacity, a.k.a. Two Truths is the adaptation of a wise and charming friend of mine, Ellece Campbell.   This exercise is instantly applicable to the sometimes deceptive nature of our vocation.


Some people can deliver a well rehearsed lie with no shade of deceit.  Others cannot perpetrate a ruse of any size.  All moral discussion aside, it is true that humanity has a propensity to lie, on occasion.  It may not be a surprise that we encounter proclivities from time to time in our vocation. Read more…


Cookies, Promises & integrity

June 18th, 2009






Imagine two dozen freshly baked chocolate chip cookies slowly cooling in your kitchen. Their alluring aroma floats through the house. The delicious scent is absolutely enticing. It invites the notion that just one out of 24 would not be missed.


The cookies seem to call to you. You discover that you feel hungrier than you actually are. Clearly, you are tempted. Intellectually, though, you know that you promised to deliver a certain number of those cookies. Yet, the rest of you implores your conscience to allow for a deviation of principle. What’s one cookie, more or less?




What do you do? Read more…

Self Scrutiny

Issues of trust – part I – The eyes of trust

June 16th, 2009



Look at the world through the eyes of trust.  What do you see?  Is every action that you view a model of altruism? Or do you see that which forces you to avert your gaze? Trust is in the eye of the beholder.  What does this mean to corrections staff?





Professionalism is important to most corrections staff.  Most of us can resist the temptation and very human quality of letting our emotions dictate our actions.  Those in our ranks who deviate from policy and procedure give us reason to ponder our integrity as a group.  Issues of trust in corrections may not be a comfortable topic.  But it is very necessary to discuss. Read more…

Assessing the organization, Staff relations

The no-expression expression

June 16th, 2009

She had been called to duty. She sat in the front row of the jury box.  Never before had she faced such weighty decisions. 

 There was more on her mind, though, than the verdict.  It seemed to her that the prosecution, defense, and the judge were gauging her expression through the trial.  Every time she looked up, at least one of those three were reading their effectiveness by looking at her eyes. She was the barometer, and she did not like it.

Like it or not, there are those among us who reveal our innermost thoughts through expressions.  Non-verbal communication, as conventional wisdom has it, accounts for over 90% of all communications. Read more…

Self Scrutiny, Uncategorized

Think like a contrabandist

June 11th, 2009

Bill looked at me with a totally serious expression.  “For this to happen, you have to think like a weed.”  He was addressing the immaculate state of his lush lawn.  His grass was a vision of perfection – a veritable green shag carpet, living, breathing, awe-inspiring and growing.  It was bereft of weeds and looked too real to be real. While I understand that weeds do not think, Bill meant that he attacked the weaknesses of those plants balanced against grass growing agents.



Weeding out contraband from our facilities is more than the ascetics of lawn care.  The element of safety is inherent in the exercise.  Of course, every bit of contraband removed from circulation levels the playing field. 


002 Read more…

Contraband Control

Of wardens and trainers: An interview with Bob Hood

June 11th, 2009

Wardens, as we all know, have so many responsibilities.  Every occurrence on facility grounds poses a potential crisis.  Administrators must consider physical plant, constitutional rights, and political and societal trends.  And all of that has to be placed on the very necessary template of safety for staff, offenders and the public.   The responsibility is awesome.  The accountability is stupefying. It is truly dizzying when one thinks about it.


Do wardens have time and inclination to think about staff development?  Is there enough room on the already full plate to ponder the necessity of continued education for professionals?  What do wardens need to know about training in these dire economic times? Read more…


“There’s one in every group!” Part II – Defuse interruptions during training

June 4th, 2009


In part I  of “There’s one in every group!” we defined major training interrupters.  There are five major perpetrators of Instruction Interruptus, a veritable A-list of discourtesy.  They are the Inpatient Information Seeker, the Attention Monger, the Apple Polisher, the Loquacious, and the Malevolent.  Now let’s look at some of the damage caused by these A-list disruptors.

So, what is the big deal about a few seemingly innocuous interruptions?  Read more…

Staff relations, Training

Jon and Kate plus 800?

June 4th, 2009

Imagine the stress of caring for a large number of people.  You have to distribute resources equally, sustain interlocking systems, and maintain order.  Does this sound like your institution?


This example comes to mind not from an 800 bed correctional facility, but through a documentary show about a family in Pennsylvania.  This young married couple, through the course of two multiple-birth pregnancies, produced eight children.  Each television episode explores the complexities of caring for such a large household. 


On the face of it, the life of a large family may not seem like a significant point of consideration for corrections professionals. Read more…

Assessing the organization, Inside Out

Caught between the slacker and the over achiever

June 2nd, 2009



Moderation is not always practiced in the work world.  The field of corrections is no exception to this rule. This is true in how we perform our jobs.  There are really three kinds of performances.  The ideal is a high performer.  The high performer is neither a slovenly slacker nor an obsessive overachiever. Read more…

Self Scrutiny, Staff relations