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Archive for January, 2010

Adventures on paperwork mountain

January 28th, 2010

It was an intimidating stack of paper that accumulated during my absence from work.  It was roughly the same dimensions as three large law books.  Though the pile of paper was an inanimate object, it seemed to mock me. Like it or not, I had to deal with the tedious task of filing.  I had no choice but to assail Paperwork Mountain.

Despite our steady movement into the digital age, corrections still runs largely on paper.  And while we may one day bid adieu to paper, do not count on this happening in this part of the decade. Read more…

Security, Self Scrutiny, What the...?!?

Some utilities of programs

January 28th, 2010

Is there simply one way to look at programming in correctional facilities?




“Why do you send expensive books to convicts?”  

“Prisoners don’t learn anything from school.” 

“They shouldn’t be paid for working.” 



There are also many strong opinions about the many productive outlets provided by programming in corrections.  Perhaps the most prevalent attitude from the anti-programs camp is “They’ve got nothing coming.” Read more…

Assessing the organization, Staff relations

Caution: Look everywhere

January 21st, 2010

When the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel held its annual conference in Tempe, Arizona, I was quite excited.  It was my second trip to the South-west and my family was coming along. We could get in some sight-seeing before the conference started.


We went to a botanical garden. And the beauty of nature was on our minds.  However, beauty does not always mean innocuous.




My wife had a case of arachnophobia just thinking of the lord of all spiders, the tarantula – indigenous to Arizona.  Read more…

Contraband Control

Identify and counter bad mentors

January 21st, 2010

As sure as the sun will rise in the East, analysis and skepticism are two traits that become enhanced through experience in corrections.  We learn to scrutinize as a matter of vocational survival. 



With enough practice, we not only see the exposed tip of the iceberg; we can also visualize the huge bulk beneath the surface. Things are not always as they appear. 


Unfortunately, not all mentors are what they appear to be.  Sadly, we encounter ulterior motives and complex factors that place the mentee in hands of a bad mentor. Read more…

Assessing the organization, Staff relations

Destination Intimidation 4: The many faces of persuasion

January 14th, 2010

Coaxing is to persuasion as coercion is to bullying.  


Persuasion is a tool to get others to do your bidding.  It can be done at work through legitimate forms.  It is seen in sales.  Persuasion turned malevolent transforms into bullying.  It is the more subtle sibling of force or intimidation.



Recently, I attended a time share presentation and I saw persuasion in action.  Read more…

Self Scrutiny

Idiom Icebreaker

January 14th, 2010

Idioms are phases that are colorful.  They enliven the language, making reading and conversation more interesting. The phrase “babble like a brook” is a colorful way to express the notion of a person who is enthusiastic yet somewhat incoherent.


Unfortunately, any figure of speech, idioms, and clichés, and even “normal” phrases will not always translate clearly from one language to another.  Read more…


Thoughts about airport security

January 7th, 2010

Corrections staff have a vocationally acquired inclination to think about security issue around the clock.  This behavior does not automatically end when we leave the institution for the day.  It is simply always on our minds.




I don’t know if this happens to everyone, but it seems to always happen to me.  Whenever I travel, I can usually count on news of trouble in the air or in an airport.  For example, while in the Milwaukee airport on the way back from the Winter ACA conference, I saw the story of Sully’s heroic landing on the Hudson River.   And to end 2009, the attempted destruction of a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit occurred.  I saw that on the television just before I was en route to the Orlando airport. Read more…

Self Scrutiny, Training

I meant to do that!

January 7th, 2010

Our professor looked into the full classroom and assessed her students.  She said without a hint of merriment on her person: “Always remember this:  Six equals sex”.


Puzzled, many of us snickered.  More of us did not comprehend.  She went on to explain: “Your spell check on your computer is a wonderful thing.  However, it does not check for content or logic.  If you mean to type ‘six’ but type ‘sex’, the computer will not see ‘sex’ as out of place or misspelled.”


I thought of this and the horrible consequences of that particular example.  Let’s imagine that I am writing a proposal.  I may intend to solve the problem with six ideas.   However, what would the reader think if I write, “This challenge can be met with these sex ideas.”  By nature, I am a problem solving writer, not some libidinous scribbler. It pays to proofread. Read more…