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Five Important Laws of Corrections
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 08/15/2011

Scroll law Recently, I published an article with www.corrections.com about the R & R Bully. This is the intimidation/manipulation type who will drop an issue when confronted (the first R is for retreat) and then resurrect the argument when it seems to have been resolved (the second R is for rehash). This was published on the Foundations page on 6/8/2011.

This article inspired more questions from readers. Because of that, I created five important laws of corrections. Please note that this is not THE five important laws. This is just a part of what can be a long list.
  1. No one, regardless of rank or time in any agency, is exempt from following policy. Polices are for everyone. At times (indeed, during long, protracted periods) there may seem to be a special group who does not appear to carry the same responsibility well. However, time is the great equalizer. Those who follow policy poorly will almost always have to face consequences at some time.
  2. Uniformity of action is key in keeping respect. Incidents of the day or the impact or events at home help shape our short term personality. Ideally, there will be differences in how we treat others. However, if our long term personality is pretty much constant, we achieve a victory. We do not have to clone our personality from day to day. We should avoid acting in an erratic manner. Offenders and staff respect predictability.
  3. Mandatory words in policy such as "shall”, "will", and "must" are more powerful than the discretionary words "should", "would" and "may”. When there is no wiggle room, mandatory words are necessary. People tend to find loopholes in the non-mandatory set of words. Be careful of what you say.
  4. Self scrutiny is an important tool in our vocation. This does not mean that we should be overly critical of ourselves all of the time. It means that we should take an honest, unbiased assessment of how we act on the job. In other words, don’t ignore your faults and don’t beat yourself up over small mistakes. Rather, handle your missteps and move on.
  5. In corrections, we have long memories. Colleagues and offenders remember when we are fair. Memories of when we act irrationally or unfairly are, unfortunately, stronger in the minds of most. What you do tomorrow may be remembered for decades.

As with laws, maxims, and general rules, there are a few caveats.

First of all, individual interpretations of each law can vary. Most of us will have a middle-of-the-road interpretation and be rather close in deciphering the meaning and application. However, there are those on either end of the continuum of understanding. Fortunately, most of us have a basic, similar understanding.

Some of us believe that laws do not apply because we are “special”. This delusion will not always work. Players change. Foci are re-focused and re-prioritized. Time marches on. One can be “special” for a day – but not perpetually.

We have different mechanisms for coping with stress. When new rules and paradigms come into play, there will be an interesting range of reactions.

Our abilities to justify an ambiguous situation or dilemma are varied. We interpret the meaning in the light of our own needs.

So, whether you are an R & R bully or just someone trying to do the right thing, there are eyes everywhere. Some hope for your fall. Others appear not to care. In the end, it comes down to individual integrity.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

Other articles by Bouchard:


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  5. TLRIVERA on 08/19/2011:

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