|Foundations - Custody awareness and corrections vitality|
|By Joe Bouchard|
Foundations - Custody awareness and corrections vitality
by Joe Bouchard
Have you ever felt left out? Exclusion makes others feel lonely and demoralized. It is the act of refusing to allow others to be a member or a part of a group. But, it is not just a one-on-one slice of rudeness. It is a monster that thwarts corrections operations.
Unfortunately, there are those who put personal preferences above the departmental mission statement and common goals. Through exclusion, they unwittingly squander the good intentions of colleagues, waste tax payer money, and facilitate the ill effects of staff division. Exclusion leads to unsafe conditions, harassment, sabotage, and all of the spin-off effects of lower morale. Those are some of the potentially powerful negative consequences from what appears to be a simple, yet disrespectful behavior.
Division between custody staff and support staff is an age old problem in corrections. Both areas consider the other with mistrust. Nothing excludes staff like a false sense of importance over other work areas. But, the interconnectedness of corrections makes it difficult and even ridiculous to rank specific jobs in order of importance.
It is one thing to recognize exclusion, its many manifestations, and its ill effects. But it takes quite a leap to work towards the positive. In corrections, it is not always easy to think in the helpful manner. Let’s look at the idea of teamwork. It means accepting others into a team and working toward common goals. In this state, all subgroups in an institution recognize themselves as belonging.
One way to foster collaboration is to focus on a common goal for all job descriptions. One model of cohesive statement in corrections is safety for all. Most mission statements point toward safety for the public by maintaining safe facilities. It is something that all staff, no matter what their specific job duties may be, can participate in at some level.
And it is not just for custody, but for all. The support staff adds many elements to the team. It is up to the support staff to help. It is up to custody staff to invite (or include) those who do not appear to feel included.
Duties of all staff
If everyone, regardless of work station, did the following, it would continue to protect the public through safer facilities and would lead to the vision of teamwork.
Duties of custody staff
Of course, supervisors should play a major part of facilitating team mentality. Wise managers will serve as a liaison between warring work areas. Here are some other expectations:
More importantly, though less tangible, perhaps, is that it produces an environment for better corrections value for the taxpayer.
This article has been reprinted with the permission of the editor of The Correctional Trainer, the journal of the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel.
Joe Bouchard is a librarian at Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility within the Michigan Department of Corrections. He is also a member of the Board of Experts for “The Corrections Professional” and an instructor of Corrections and Psychology for Gogebic Community College. He can be reached at (906) 353-7070 ext 1321. These are the opinions of Joe Bouchard, and not of the MIDOC or Corrections.com.
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