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Archive for November, 2009

Thinking with a twisted mind

November 24th, 2009

“You have a twisted mind.  But, that is a good thing.” That is not some cheesy line from a Cheesy 1980’s  B-movie. It is a vocational truism.  And it is the basis of this icebreaker.


A good way to jump start a module on security awareness is to give the following introduction.  Read more…

Contraband Control, Training

Boiling crab mentality

November 24th, 2009

Only one of them saw the way out of danger and tried to escape. She scaled the wall of the metal cylinder before the hot liquid won the battle.  Yet, though she knew the way to safety, she could not go there.  Others pulled her down.  Perhaps they were panicking and did not know better.  Maybe it was a sort of sick realization that they were all going to die. No matter how hard she tried, the crab could not leave the boiling pot.  The other crabs pulled her down to an eventual collective death.


A colleague of mine once remarked that one does not have to place a lid on a boiling pot of live crabs.  He told me that the crabs will pull each other down.  While I do not know if this is true in all cases, I can acknowledge that it is an interesting concept. Read more…

Self Scrutiny, Staff relations

S.E.L.F. help for line level leaders

November 24th, 2009




What makes a leader? Are they born with natural ability to guide others? Or do all have an equal chance to learn and apply leadership fundamentals? Is leadership part innate ability and part acquired skills? Certainly, both sides of the nature or nurture argument have strong proponents. Like the classic chicken or egg question, this query may never be answered.

One thing is certain: One does not have to be high in the chain of command to guide others. Many corrections line staff have considerable influence on their peers. Their confidence, reputation, knowledge and hard work are some of the factors that make these de facto leaders an important commodity. Read more…

Staff relations, Training

Response to Duct Tape Isn’t Enough – 11/20/09

November 20th, 2009

(From Richard Lumb, Ph.D.)

My comments are a follow-up to Joe and Ron’s November 13, 2009 posting on the use and application of resilience tools to help moderate the impact of stress and the encounter with adversity or trauma that ranges from minor discomfort to mind and body wrenching crisis.  Daily pressure is inevitable and we often ride waves of discomfort with accompanying emotions usually returning to a place of balance where coping takes place naturally.   Read more…

Guest Author, Self Scrutiny, Staff relations

A Drive Down Division Street

November 18th, 2009

There is a very dangerous road in all corrections settings.  This thoroughfare is known as Division Street. 




It is not difficult to see that any prison or jail is very much like a city.  The comparisons of services in either setting simply jump out at anyone who ponders this.  There is a restaurant, a library, a police force, a medical center and housing units in each.


Let us delve a bit deeper. Some of the same street names surely exist in your city as do in a corrections setting.  However, the street names in your city are actual while those in jails or prison don’t really exist.  They are really models of behavior that we label in order to understand in a fuller manner. Read more…

Self Scrutiny, Staff relations

Manipulation and fear

November 18th, 2009

Recently, Institutional Training Officer Mike Plourde, developed a module called “Con Games”. “Con Games” addresses some of the ruses and manipulation that may be executed on corrections staff. He paired that with Joe Bouchard’s module “Wake up and Smell the Contraband”, encompassing the whys and hows of illicit activities inside the walls of corrections facilities. Part of that module which deals with trepidation because of manipulation is presented here. stay-on-trail Read more…

Guest Author, Self Scrutiny, Staff relations, Training

Ten corrections lessons from “The Dog”

November 13th, 2009

Prior to entering corrections, I was a steel worker.  Al (a.k.a. “The Dog”) was my supervisor. He taught me a lot about interpersonal relations and surviving in a sometimes difficult environment. He did not necessarily speak these lessons, as he was more action-oriented than a verbal sort. 


Ultimately, I was surprised about the applicability of those lessons when I moved to corrections.

Often, I apply them to the nebulous and confusing art of dealing with difficult personalities.  There is also applicability when I engage in the frequently arduous task of gaining a better understanding of myself.  Read more…

Assessing the organization, Inside Out, Self Scrutiny, Staff relations

Some points from Duct Tape Isn’t Enough

November 13th, 2009

H1N1, economic woes, and wars fill our minds.  As a public, we have so much on our collective plates.  Yet this stress has been the status quo for so long.  Add those concerns to the daily duties of any corrections professional.  As a matter of course, all corrections staff face the possibility of grievances, litigation and assaults.  Daily interaction with those who, quite frankly, are not easy to deal with is also a major stressor. 


Certainly, we seem resilient enough to deal with the many challenges on and off the job.  However, there is ample evidence that suggests we endure a cumulative, crippling harm due to stress. Read more…

Self Scrutiny, Training

There is superstition…

November 11th, 2009

It is here again.  Happy Friday the 13th!!!  We welcome you, day of superstition.  We are not afraid.  Well, most of us are not.




Friday the 13th comes and goes.  On the face of it, the 13th is only a date between the 12th and 14th.  Yet why does it represent a day of caution to many people?  Read more…

Inside Out, Self Scrutiny

Coping with Tragedy – Lessons for Corrections

November 11th, 2009

Sometimes, the news can be unbelievable. For example, the horror on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007  left us collectively numb. All of us were dropped into a state of disbelief by those atrocious killings. The air was thick with feelings of confusion and grieving. We felt the same last week when the horror at Fort Hood unfolded. 

Unfortunately, other events come to mind as we cope with these tragedies. Even so, we are not wholly desensitized by large losses of lives such as Columbine and the events of 9/11. While these forms of terrorism have become a horrible part of our lives, they still rattle our sense of safety. Read more…

Inside Out