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Corrections: Why do we do it?
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 06/28/2010

Anchor When asking such questions, we often feel forsaken in a wilderness of tasks looking for a meaning to our work.

Some would point out that no one is entitled to fulfillment in any job. In fact, many would argue that one should not expect satisfaction beyond a paycheck. While that may be a harsh truth, fulfillment is a personal imperative. Though our profession does not always offer tangible vocational contentment, it is up to each of us to seek it on our own rather than to expect it automatically.

The health of our profession depends on us seeking satisfaction in our work. A pride in one’s vocation can fight off burnout, complacency, and disillusion. This outlook allows us to face every day challenges on the job with optimism and strength.

Do we have to be left empty because we seek a deeper meaning in our work? Do higher ideals have to remain overshadowed by a task oriented workplace? Do our beliefs even matter if we seem to be doing the right thing?

Abstract altruism is not for everyone. But when you can link virtues such as teamwork and integrity to your every day actions at work, it is a useful tool to stave off the more challenging moments.

For most of us, it is not enough to simply do the right thing. At times we need to focus on higher ideals in order to drive us to success. With this need also to know what goals we are shooting for.

Our tangible actions are easy to point to, especially if the actions constitute a day to day operation. Some people believe that the nuts and bolts of operations are the only factors that drive an organization forward towards success. What we do every day, they assert, is who we are. Without tangible actions, how can we measure our effectiveness?

However, underlying our good, easily defined work is our collective philosophical base. This is found in each mission statement vision statement. Common missions and values unite diverse work groups and allow more of us to move with the agency.

This is where the foundation has to be laid. It is one thing to identify some core values. It is a step further in the right direction to define these core values.

There are many ways to initiate positive change and promote core values. It is not enough to say that we need to be a better agency with good values. More important is the need to define these values and make the abstractions more tangible.

Defined ideals for the group are a noble cause. And when they are followed, we are less alone in a sea of corrections tasks. Maybe our wish of being rescued from an undirected philosophy is as simple as defined core values and a change in culture.

Theory and practice are both very crucial for the success of any agency. A blend of the two will complement each other and move the large corrections vehicle forward. Striking the balance between the ideal and real will promote a healthier workplace.

Perhaps in the end, it may not matter why individuals follow virtues while executing daily tasks. The end result is that this is good for staff, prisoners, and the public.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page


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  7. kodiakbears on 07/06/2010:

    "Theory and practice are both very crucial for the success of any agency. A blend of the two will complement each other and move the large corrections vehicle forward. Striking the balance between the ideal and real will promote a healthier workplace" is the challenge at hand... This so delicate balance is upset daily by the stressors of the job, the lack of resources and the lack of public support in the mission and administration of this type of agency. Dollar for dollar corrections is the most expensive element of any budget and unfortunately not really very glamorous in detail. In theory, their mission statements are awesome, in practice there are many inconsistencies as many agencies operate on executive memos and deviate from policies and procedures to accommodate their needs in both staff and fiscal resources. It is an unforgiven job performed by unique individuals who unit for a common cause.. professionalism with an occasional moment of positivity in a very negative world they work in. Why do they do it? I think it's because they 1. need a job 2. need the benefits 3. satisfaction of working law enforcement and its profile 4. self-fullment and 5. they are adrenaline junkies and work hard in maintaining order but get a rush when things go sideways.. That's why they do it. (my opinion of course) Carl ToersBijns, retired deputy warden.

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