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The End? Not Again!
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 08/01/2011

Aztec calendar Just when you thought it was safe to sit back and ponder the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar, someone slipped in another end of times date. Theology and possible motives aside, those who interpreted the Mayan calendar believe that the world will and on December 21, 2012.

There is another opinion. Now, according to some the new date that the rapture is to occur is on May 21, 2011. Please note, Dear Reader, I'm writing this on May 22, 2011, one day after the proposed end of times.

Perhaps one the striking features of this assertion is that it was made with such certainty. There are lessons from this beyond dubious timing and group psychology. Corrections staff can learn plenty while assessing absolute statements. When someone says something will absolutely happen a certain time, it could mean one of a few things:
  1. The person has inside information. For example, an offended declares that there will be a hit on staff and it occurs on an appointed time. From that time forward, the offender should not be discounted as a poor source of information. Of course, some prophets have a track record of only one right prediction in a body of numerous incorrect forecasts.
  2. The person will be wrong but they really believe it. Some offenders may indicate that there will be violence in the summer. Many of us have heard the phrase “It is going to be a hot summer”. As staff, we consider the source and watched the signs. If a dire, though vague, prophecy is proven wrong through time, it is all the better for staff.
  3. The person believes it without question. Unshakable beliefs range from everyday scenarios to what many would consider absurd. The common belief that a certain team will win the final four could be a common belief. A less likely belief is that aliens will land and imposing order. In all of this, we need to consider the rigidity of broadcaster. Self-fulfilling prophecies can manifests if the person pushes hard enough. For example, suppose that a prisoner makes it clear that he would be placed in segregation in the near future. We notice that the prisoner has neatly packed his belongings and has them waiting for staff to cart away. It's important to note these signs, as the fulfilling the prophecy could contain violence.
  4. The broadcasts are tests. If an offender is testing the gullibility of staff, he simply can drop a far-fetched fact while wearing a straight face. The offender can learn a lot from staff by declaring that the world will end a certain time. Staff who seriously engaging conversations about end times may wear their beliefs and fears to prominently on their sleeve. This is dangerous if the prisoner is an adept handler.

One of my colleagues once said that you do not have to believe everything the prisoner says to you. Just because someone says something that unshakable certainty does not mean that it will come to pass. But, you should continue to listen. Staff should continue to develop filters, learn to share intelligence, and assess sources. That is how we remain safe.

So, whether it be a forecast of the apocalypse or who will fight with whom, we need to be on our vocational toes. Whenever rumor circulate – up to and including the end of the world – our profession teaches us to investigate and prepare.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

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