|Recalling the basics for a peaceful holiday time|
|By William Sturgeon|
While the civilian world prepares to celebrate the holidays, correctional personnel have to be especially vigilant and prepared to deal with any potential situation. While the civilian world is preparing for peace on earth and happy times, very often these are depressing times for offenders and their families.
A great many correctional facilities decorate and have special holiday events planned, but an undertone of sadness, frustration and sometimes anger can still exist. Some of the offenders deal with the holiday season like any other time while others experience varying degrees of difficulty dealing with this season.
Correctional personnel at every level must be on the lookout for manifestations that offenders could exhibit. This can include suicide. Historically, correctional facilities experience an increase in attempts and suicide rates around now. Currently, there are those who believe that because of better staff training there has been a decrease in the number of actual suicides and attempts, because the staff have intervened to get the offenders to the mental health staff.
A change in normal behavior and attitude is another important factor to watch for. Offenders can exhibit very noticeable behaviors and attitudes, especially in a prison setting. Line staff and other seasoned personnel are particularly good at these changes, which can include:
Escape attempts can also be on the rise around now. The best way to prevent this is by strictly adhering to all security policies and procedures. Now is the time to double check all of the facility’s policies and procedures. Sometimes during the year. people become complacent about employing all security policies because they may be cumbersome to perform or slow down day-to-day operations. Offenders become aware of these ‘security shortcuts’ taken by staff and could take advantage of them in an effort to escape.
Staff issues during the holiday season
Most of the time in correctional training classes or in departmental memoranda personnel are told about all the issues offenders might face during the holidays. What is seldom mentioned are the issues that may be encountered by staff during the holiday season and how those issues could affect the operation of the facility.
The holidays are a wonderful time, but it can also be very hectic and stressful. Certainly, those working in corrections are not immune to the whirlwind activities of the holidays, so administrators and line supervisors should pay special attention to the following:
Celebrate with your family and friends and keep yourself, the offenders, facility, and visitors safe and secure. Happy Holidays.
William Sturgeon is an emergency preparedness and counterterrorism planning expert. He has more than 35 years of experience in the criminal justice field, and has managed security operations for sheriffs’ offices and correctional agencies across the United States.
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