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Archive for August, 2012

Battling contraband from outside the secure perimeter

August 11th, 2012

The fundamental safety tactic of contraband control is part of everyone’s duty. You don’t have to wear a uniform or be inside the secure perimeter of the facility in order to assist in the security of the institution.
Those working outside the secure perimeter can assist in the battle against the adverse effects of illicit goods.
While those outside the secure perimeter cannot fully participate in the psychical search for contraband inside, they can perform three particular roles in contraband control. They can feed the information machine, relate tales of contraband from earlier phases of their careers, and look at the work patterns of prisoner porters.
Feed the information machine. Assisting in intelligence gathering is easy. Mailroom staff are ideally positioned to do this. Staff may receive or intercept correspondence from prisoners that contain nuggets of information. This knowledge would be routed to the inspector.
Tales of contraband. Some staff working outside of the secure perimeter have corrections experience inside. They are acclimated to how some prisoners may move illicit goods. They may even be aware of specific older prisoners in the system. Staff who formerly worked within the secure perimeter know of the many possible unauthorized activities through experience. Also, cautionary tales and other accounts of contraband can be told for the benefit of newer staff. On the face of it, this does not appear to be as helpful as the actual psychical search. But, talking about contraband to newer staff assists in getting them to think about what could happen.
Watching prisoners. Those outside the gates should scrutinize the patterns of the prisoner porters. Contraband travels between levels of custody and institutions. Lower custody level prisoner porters in your work area may be vehicles for bootleg. They are not exempt from analysis. Ask yourself, does one prisoner porter clean the staff bathroom then another porter enters that bathroom immediately? Is this place a drop and pass location? Is there a loose floor molding or hand dryer that could serve as hiding spot for contraband?

Non-custody staff outside the secure perimeter can be of great value in identifying and reporting contraband movement patterns. Their intelligence gathering can lend the information necessary to stop dangerous enterprises. In doing so, they make it safer for staff, prisoners, and the public.

Contraband Control

mixed morality training exercise

August 4th, 2012

Mixed morality

Nobody’s perfect, or so it is said. And it seems in corrections that the negative can receive more attention than the positive. Still, our professional integrity dictates that we do the right thing for the public. Unfortunately, every now and again, someone in our ranks will break the rules and attract public scrutiny.

Morality training and professionalism can come in at least two forms. You may see it as a primary module as you enter the department. Another manner in which morality/professional training is administered is in the wake of a scandal. Whether the training is proactive like the former or reactive like the latter is of less consequence than the main point: We must all do the right thing.

Then comes the exercise called “mixed morality”. This is a competition and question/answer exercise. It is very simple to perform this icebreaker. In addition, there are no props, no overt physical activities, and really no wrong answers, if you think about it.

1. The class is divided into two teams. The facilitator may wish to create the teams by grouping every other person on opposite sides of the room, by random selection, or letting teams assemble themselves. This is not important as long as there are two separate teams.
2. The teams will elect one person to answer morality questions. They will be told that they are to select an answer for the entire team on moral problems and dilemmas.
3. Armed with 10 questions (like the set that follows) the facilitator will ask the questions of both team captains.
4. Here is the wrench in the works: There are two possible answers, but each team will not know what the answers are. And the facilitator will read only the question, leaving both answer unknown to each captain. The team that goes first may choose option one or option two. Both options will be blind, random answers. Therefore, the other remaining answer will go to the team that has not selected. The team captain will select only one or two and cannot justify or modify an answer after it is read.
5. Each team will start at zero. The answer that they select will be accompanied with a positive or negative number value. As questions go on, a scorekeeper will mark on the board the numeric value and add or subtract that from zero.
6. Another option is to ask these questions in a large room. Both team leaders will stand in the middle of the room. If their random selection for a moral question is positive, that team leader will step forward as many steps as directed. On the other hand, if the random selection for the moral question has a negative value, the person who selected (or was defaulted) that answer will step back as directed in the answer.
7. Move on to the second question. The team captain that selected the positive answer will get to select option one or option two for the next question.
8. Continue this through number 10.
9. The team with the highest score or the team that has stepped forward the furthest will be declared the winner.

Here is a sample test with blind/random options:

The instructor can start by saying,

“Sometimes, circumstances will dictate how we choose to act. Not all decisions are clear and not all answers are easy. The team leader that wins coin toss will be given a question and asked to select option one or two. This is truly a matter of luck, as you may or may not necessarily agree with the content of the option. With each option comes a positive or negative score. Your choice might not be how you would react in real life. However, this is designed with a few wildcards to represent real-life circumstances that may alter your decision. Your opponent will, by default, be assigned the option that you did not choose. Whatever gets the highest point in each question will be permitted to have first selection of the options in the following question. There are 10 questions. The team that scores the highest is the winning team.”

1. You are in a beautiful national park. There is no one for miles around. The gum that you started to chew as you left your car has lost all flavor resembles nothing more than rubber. No one will see you and you assume that there are no trail cameras. Do you spit out your gum?

Option one:
You spit out your gum. No one will see you anyway. Your score is -1.

Option two:
Patience! You dispose of your gum in a receptacle designed for trash which is located at the trailhead. Your score is +1.

2. You witness a senior citizen place a candy bar in her purse. You are behind the would-be shoplifter in line at the cash register. You see by the form of payment for the other groceries that the senior has plenty of money. Do you report the crime?

Option one:
You whisper to the senior citizen that she forgot to pay for the candy bar in her purse. Your score is +1

Option two:
You mind your own business and don’t worry about the cost to consumers. Your score is -1.

3. You see a semi-dead rabbit on a rural road. It appears that it had been run over by a vehicle and is living its last moments in agony. You have a shovel in your trunk. Do you put the creature out of its misery?

Option one:
Keep on driving and forget about it. It is just a casualty of nature. Your score is -1.

Option two:
You stop by the side of the road, retrieve the shovel from the trunk, and quickly and humanely sever the head from the body. Your score is +1.

4. In your corrections academy, you are taking the final exam for the criminal justice module. You are confident and are nearly done with the test. The person next to you is a devoted corrections professional as far as you can see. However, he is looking at your answer sheet and copying your answers. What do you do?

Option one:
You cover your answers. After all, it was up to him to study and you do not wish to jeopardize your chances of working in corrections through someone else’s mistake. Your score is +1

Option two:
You played dumb. You allow the person to cheat and you pretend not to notice. Your score is -1.

5. You leave the restaurant and just before you reach your car you see on the pavement by your car and expensive but functioning handheld videogame. This is a videogame that you’ve always wanted to play. You see no one around. Do you walk into the restaurant and presented to the staff person behind the counter?

Option one:
You keep it. If the person was foolish enough to let it drop from their hand, it is their tough luck. Your score is -1

Option two:
Turn it into the staff person. It doesn’t matter that you have to walk back inside the restaurant even though you have just left. You would want someone to do the same for you. Your score is +1.

6. You have just enough time to get to work. On the side of the road, you see a neighbor with a flat tire. It looks like she is not doing too well in changing the flat. As a bit of background, this neighbor seems to have trained her large dog to defecate only on your lawn. Though you may be late, do you help your neighbor change the tire?

Option one:
You reap what you sow. Why should you do this person a favor? Keep driving! The score is -1

Option two:
As painful as it is, stop and help. At least pull over and ask if she needs assistance. Your score is +1.

7. You are on vacation with your spouse. At the breakfast buffet in the hotel you realize that you have spare minutes to eat before going on your planned excursion. Your spouse gets the coffee from across the room. You get a couple of muffins. They are the last two muffins – just enough for you two to eat breakfast. One of the muffins drops on the floor. A quick inspection, you see no dust. Still, you blow on the top of the muffin, hoping that your germs pose less of a threat than whatever was tracked in on the floor. Your spouse, diligently preparing coffee just the way you like, did not witness any of this. What do you do?

Option one:
You confess that you dropped one of the muffins. You explain that it looks clean enough and that you can both eat half of both muffins. Give the option of you eating the fallen muffin. The score is +1.

Option two:
Place the fallen muffin in front your spouse. Inwardly you reason that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Your score is -1.

8. You purchase some candy for $.75 with a $10 bill. The cashier, believing that you paid with the $20 bill, gives you $19.25 for change. This is $10 in your favor. What do you do?
Option one:
You have been shopping here for years. You’ve supported the store for over a decade. Will $10 really hurt in the larger scheme of things? You do not report the error. Your score is -1.

Option two:
Your integrity is not worth $10. You report the error. Your score is +1.

9. It is rush hour during lunch time at a fast food restaurant. Two different lines form and in a disorganized manner. You are standing right next to someone who has been in line longer than you. When cashier asked for the next person in line, you see that the person next to you does not move up. What do you do?
Option one:
According to the old saying, “the race is to the swift”. If you snooze, you lose. Step up! Your score is -1.

Option two:
You simply tell the person that they are next in line. Your score is +1.

10. You contacted your cable network and canceled a premium channel. A month later, you notice that you still have the channel but have not been charged for. What do you do?
Option one:
You inform cable company of their error. You want to receive what you have not paid for. This is +1.

Option two:
You reason that a multibillion-dollar cable company will not miss $10 per month. Plus, you’ve always paid your bill on time. Your score is -1.

At the end of the exercise, the teams may actually be tied. It is truly a 50/50 proposition. That really doesn’t matter. What’s important is that not all decisions are cut and dry.

You can post some of the following questions to the class if you have time to drive additional points home.

• Have any of these scenarios actually happened to you? If so, how did you act?
• Does having no money ever justify shoplifting?
• If the only law that existed was “might makes right” like in a post-apocalyptic world, would moral decisions be assessed differently than now?
• From whom did you learn right and wrong?
• Is it cheating if no one ever knows about it?

In the end, morality training can be a bit uncomfortable. Be that as it may, with an icebreaker like mixed morality, you can use interesting segues into these crucial modules.