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Archive for March, 2010

Simple contraband control tools

March 31st, 2010


The fight against contraband is perpetual.  Slowing the inevitable tide is like sweeping the ocean back with a push broom.  Your forward momentum in attacking the pervasive problem is tediously slow.  You feel like you are trying to navigate a tricycle through a sand dune.




Like any facility through history, the one at which you work is full of contraband.  Inmate ingenuity seems to strip the potency of staff experience and diligence.  You recognize the potential peril in every bootleg transaction. 



Do you declare contraband control futile? Read more…

Contraband Control, Security

Give Blood

March 31st, 2010

It is no secret that corrections staff place their lives on the line every day.  Everyone in the profession – officers, support staff, programs professionals and administrative personnel – work in a potentially dangerous place.  These are the few who are equipped to face peril on a daily basis and keep staff, offenders and the public safer.



In another sense, there is a group of corrections professionals who literally become a life enhancing part of the public.  In a very real way, they give their life essence to those who need to maintain and prolong health and life.  These are the staff who donate blood. Read more…

Dear Reader, Self Scrutiny

Destination Intimidation: Performance Bully

March 25th, 2010

 Do horns and halos coexist on the same person? Can one be a devil and an angel at once?  Can one operate in a consistent nature in dual modes?  Is there a thin line between professionalism and jealousy?  These questions can be answered by looking into the phenomenon of the Performance Bully.



Bullies hold sway over their victims through coercion.  The most common type, the physical bully, threatens to administer pain.  And most bullies of other varieties gain power over others through delivery of something unpleasant. However, there is an agent of intimidation who does the opposite.  The threat is to withhold something from the target.  This is a common tactic of the performance bully. Read more…

Assessing the organization, Self Scrutiny, Staff relations

The Wheel of Corrections

March 25th, 2010

I thought that I had heard all of the idioms and expressions that relate to one of our most common transportation tools. I speak, of course, of the wheel. Imagine how much less interesting our language would be without the following:

…the wheels of industry (or progress)…
…let’s not reinvent the wheel…

…let’s roll… tire

How about the Wheel of Corrections? Read more…

Assessing the organization

Rapport, humor, and training

March 18th, 2010


The stage was set.  The class was divided into two competitive teams.  Each team was provided with a sock and a small metal container filled with mints [i]


In a purposely vague manner, I told them that the sock and the tin of mints were all that they could use to construct a weapon (or weapons).  They had fifteen minutes to complete their task. 




The only other rule was that they had to conceal their work whenever I was within arm’s length of their work area.  As I “made rounds”, the students were very creative in camouflaging, making distractions, and keeping me oblivious of their craftsmanship.


While making a round to the team that dubbed themselves “The Average Joes”, I was knocked off my square (albeit briefly) by what I saw.  Read more…

Contraband Control, Training, What the...?!?

What are you talking about?

March 18th, 2010


Our inability to understand transforms us into helpless actors on the stage, unable to read the cue cards. When we hear words and do not understand them,   our audience is aware of this.  That dilutes our effectiveness and lessens our professional credibility.




The slang that one hears in a correctional facility can be very vexing and confusing at times.  Read more…


Stuck in the rut of routine:The parable of the Hummingbird and Raven

March 10th, 2010



Sometimes, we perform a task so often that we can do it with our eyes closed.  In fact, if not for change, we could cruise along in perpetuity in a blindfold.  Yet, that is a perfect world.    As reality teaches us, the world does not stand still for anyone. 




Did you ever hear the one about the Hummingbird and the Raven?  I think that it is a good story that illustrates the dynamics of how we adapt to change.  Read more…

Assessing the organization, Self Scrutiny

The many roles of programmers: The corrections grid

March 10th, 2010



Custody staff comprises the largest segment of correction land.  Typically, when one is asked to identify a job done in corrections, usually the first answer offered is the corrections officer.  Of course, while very crucial, it takes much more than custody staff to run a modern prison.  There are clerical staff, supervisors, administrative staff, food service workers, and health care staff.  Yet, a significant group is often overlooked.  They are the programmers. 


Are programmers forgotten in the scheme of things?  Perhaps this is so. Yet, the impact of those who run our prisons’ and jails’ classrooms, libraries, athletic facilities, and vocational education centers should not be underestimated. Read more…

Assessing the organization

Are You Hard-Hearted?

March 10th, 2010


By: Kenneth Demmo


Reflecting back on a career in Corrections:  I have grown up quite a bit and had my share of self-induced hard times and great times throughout the years.  One issue has been on my mind for some time now and I have come to realize or had an epiphany to a hidden dark secret of Corrections.  Most of us never see it coming or realize that it affects us yet it has a profound affect on our lives both here at work and home.  I am referring to the Hard-Hearted conditioning that we as Correctional staff experience.  Read more…

Guest Author

The many benefits of contraband control

March 3rd, 2010

When a major contraband item is found, there is one less bargaining tool or weapon taken out of the loop.  But, that is just one benefit of the process.   There is a conceptual dimension. We don’t usually look at the other gains that effective control of illicit barter produces. 


They are not as obvious as removing a dangerous item from the playing field.  They can be grouped into five categories.  They are benefits to security, staff unity, prisoner rehabilitation, services, and to the taxpayer.  Read more…

Contraband Control