|Custody awareness key to corrections vitality|
|By Joe Bouchard|
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.
This article has been reprinted with permission from The Correctional Trainer, the journal of the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel. For more information on IACTP, go to www.IACTP.org
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 intention of colleagues, waste tax payer money, and facilitate the ill effects of staff division. It 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 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
Everyone, regardless of work station, should do the following to keep the public protected through safer facilities. This will 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:
The benefits of this model include a secure environment for staff, prisoners, and the public, along with camaraderie, and diminished stress. More importantly, though less tangible perhaps, is that it produces an environment for better corrections value for the taxpayer.
Joe Bouchard can be reached at (906) 353-7070 ext 1321. These are the opinions of Joe Bouchard, and not of the MIDOC or Corrections.com.
Other articles by Bouchard
Of resolutions and L.U.C.K., 12/31/07
Communications compass, 11/19/07
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