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Archive for December, 2010

The good and bad of routine times

December 28th, 2010

One morning as I entered the secure perimeter of our facility, I smelled the unmistakable odor of a skunk.  Its pungent melodiousness cut through the normal facility smells.  I offer the word “Pew!” for those who seek a more direct description.


Word was that there was once a skunk roaming between our security fences.  Staff and prisoners alike were wary of our guest, fearful that they would be the target of some potent unpleasantly. Read more…

Assessing the organization, Staff relations

Corrections communications and the small town model

December 21st, 2010

Nothing ever happens in a small town.  Main Street, U.S.A. is pretty much boring. Well, most of the time…




After living in a metropolitan area with a population of over 4 million, coming to a town of less than 2,500 people was a bit of a change for me.  I was fascinated by how quickly information travels through the village and in surrounding areas.  It seemed that everyone knows everyone else’s business.  Even if you are not hiding anything in particular, this can be a bit unnerving.


Before this begins to sound like the grievances of a cynical recluse, Read more…

Assessing the organization, Security

Blazing and training dynamics

December 16th, 2010

 There are some staff dynamics that look uncomfortable to the untrained eye.  However, many seemingly contentious exchanges are really the expressions of respect.  In other words, this is an instance of professional blazing meant in the best of ways. 




One of my favorite out-of-state colleagues recently attended a presentation that I conducted about effective icebreakers and group activities.  There were two good dynamics in this for me.  First, this colleague is an accomplished trainer and would certainly offer good, constructive suggestions to me at the conclusion.  Second, the person in question is my all-time favorite sparring partner.  She is an incomparably adept blazer, playful and unyielding. Read more…

Security, Self Scrutiny, Staff relations, Training

“Did you tell them who you are?” Improving the Perceptions of Corrections Programming Staff

December 6th, 2010

No one really thinks about a bench when it is not used.  Its utility is not usually heeded until it is needed.  Perhaps prison programming staff are like a bench.




At times, programming staff suffer  professional identity crises.  On one hand, these people have been hired to perform specialties. (Librarians, Teachers, Athletic Directors, Chaplains, etc.) On the other hand, they work in a non-traditional professional framework, the paramilitary structure.  This is a setting where security supersedes service.  Therefore, the programs staff often feel vocationally unimportant in the institutional scheme of things.


This has a potentially detrimental, yet overlooked impact on the facility’s operations.  It leads to increased staff divisiveness, lower productivity, absenteeism, and a rapid turn over of staff that are difficult to recruit.  Prisoners can capitalize on such weaknesses and compromise the security of any institution.


But, it is up to the non-custody staff to assail professional ambiguity.  Read more…

Assessing the organization, Security, Staff relations

Image ruses

December 1st, 2010


The cat’s fur stood on end to make it appear larger and fiercer…


The little dog barked loudly, from the safe side of the fence…


The man sucked in his stomach as the woman on the beach walked by…




These are three common behaviors in nature.  We cannot suppose that animals who try to appear formidable or fit do so for any other reason than to ward off predators.  Even the beach enthusiast in the example has an instinctual reason to promote a not entirely true image of physical fitness.



But there are times that people perform in order to project a truth.  Some of those times, the performer is only convincing herself or himself of that image.  That is an instance of self-delusion or image ruse. Read more…

Guest Author, Self Scrutiny, Staff relations