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Archive for September, 2010

Your corrections family is a pillow?

September 30th, 2010

The following is an excerpt from Joe Bouchard’s keynote speech to the Wisconsin Correctional Association in September 2010. Thanks to the wonderful corrections professionals that make up this association. 


I gained a little medical wisdom from my doctor recently.  She and I discussed what has been described to me as my loud snoring. We sought to eliminate variables.  One topic that we touched upon was my choice of pillows.  She said seven words to me that started a strange chain of thinking.  “A pillow is a very personal thing.”


This made perfect sense to me. And I took this phrase and applied it to the notion of family.  Just like with a perfect pillow, if you are comfortable with a family, you will very likely get a good night’s sleep.  If the pillow (or family) is not a good fit for you, the discomfort may keep you up at night. 




There is no perfect pillow for everyone.  There is no uniform panacea. There is no one-size-fits-all.  If you are comfortable with a flat pillow, it does not matter if the majority prefers two fluffy pillows.  What works best for you is best for you.  A bad fit can be tolerated, but is less than optimal.  A pillow is a very personal thing. Read more…

Assessing the organization, Staff relations, What the...?!?

A bird in hand: Altenate uses for discarded items

September 23rd, 2010

What do you throw away that could be of use elsewhere?  What common items do you take for granted? In a prison setting, items that you discard can be used against you.  Sometimes we forget this and dispose of items that prisoners recycle into marketable goods.  Therefore, we unwittingly fuel the illicit economy of the institution and sacrifice safety.


Use and scarcity dictate value.  For a non-prison example, we go to the upper Midwest many years ago.  Here, a young boy climbed into the grain elevators to find doves.  These birds would roost there for food and shelter.  The boy harvested the birds, selling some to local restaurants and taking some home for his family to consume. 



He was also aware that some children from an affluent neighboring community preferred to keep these birds as pets.  Read more…

Contraband Control

Glory grabbers and the flood of ’86

September 22nd, 2010

The following, Dear Reader, is not a self-congratulatory celebration of me as a working class hero.  Nor is this a damnation of the work habits of people from years ago. Rather, this is an illustration of the personality type that I call “glory grabber”.


We can define glory grabbers as individuals that steal the credit from others.  Their main objective is to appear to be the prime movers in all work endeavors.  Their true labor is in seeming to be busy only when they are watched by those in authority.  Glory grabbers impact corrections operations in a negative way.  Their actions cause resentment and division among staff.  And staff division, through a variety of possible occurrences, diminishes safety. 



Nearly twenty-five years ago, I saw a perfect example of glory grabbers. It was March. Because of an unusually rapid snow melt, Doom Sayers were predicting horrible flooding. I was working for a small business on the edge of a large lake.  Read more…

Assessing the organization, Inside Out, Staff relations

The new training?

September 16th, 2010

The colors were enticing.  Anticipation built as I thought of the surprise within. The gift bags were presented to an eager recipient. Then the cruel trap was sprung.  There was nothing within.  The glitzy promise of a present evaporated like a drop of water on the hood of a car in Phoenix in August.  Not all that is promised by outward appearances will really come to be.




Has the packaging for training ever promised more than it delivered?   It may have all of the bells and whistles.  It may seem modern, exciting, and interactive.  The training might even utilize all of the technological wonders available.  Yet, it could be an empty experience.


Electronic training comes in many forms.  In a sense, DVDs and videos are a part of this.  Also included are webinars, webcasts, teleconferences, and anything a trainer can pull from the internet. Read more…


Parking spaces, nepotism and networking

September 9th, 2010

So many problems between people are rooted in differing perspectives. The truth is relative, not absolute.  In fact, the truth can be very personal.


Think of two drivers in different cars vying for one coveted parking spot.  Both cars circle, waiting for an opening. 



In most cases, the closest, fastest, or most aggressive driver will claim the spot.  It is my understanding that there is no law against this sort of behavior.  Saving parking spots, like cutting in line, is rude.  But, it is not a crime. Read more…

Assessing the organization, Self Scrutiny, Staff relations

Preparedness, hostages, and hurricanes

September 2nd, 2010

There are two stories in the news right now that should give all corrections professionals and public safety personnel cause to ponder safety lessons.  The hostage incident in Maryland’s Discovery Channel Building and the imminent North American debut of Hurricane Earl should implore us to review our disaster preparedness plans. Our written operating procedures for emergencies are those that we never wish to use, but gratefully execute when necessary.


the-plan Read more…

Security, Training