|Communication in Today’s Corrections: Part II|
|By Bryan Avila, TDCJ Correctional Training Instructor - Sergeant of Correctional Officers|
In the first part of this article we talked about the four types of communication in a correctional facility:
All too often, those of us that work in correctional facilities tend to forget the type of individual that we are dealing with: people. Oh, we don't forget that they are incarcerated for some crime that they have committed, but we do forget that they are people. Some officers view them as scumbags, low-than-dirt creatures, child molesters, rapists, murderers, etc. And although some are incarcerated for those very things, not all of them are. Many of them are in due to non-violent offenses and a great deal of them will get out after they have completed their sentence.
When we speak to someone the way that we want to be spoken to, we are more likely to get positive results from offenders, therefore reducing the likelihood of a physical confrontation. And if I can go home at the end of the day with the same number of holes in my body that I walked in with that day, I'm perfectly OK with that! Make no mistake about it, they know very well where they are and why they are there, even if they don't openly admit it. There is no need to remind them verbally (we remind them every day when we go home).
Some officers refuse to say either "please" or "thank you" because they believe that the offender is not worth it. Every person has a need for validation of their self-worth. By use of the simple words of "please" and "thank you," it makes a person feel like a person. We promote change in offenders. We are their role models. It is our responsibility to emulate what it is that we, as a society, want them to aspire to become.
We are supposed to treat everyone the same, in a firm, fair and consistent manner. That includes the way in which we communicate with them. How would we feel if we were treated as scumbag staff members? There are staff members that introduce contraband. Have sexual relationships with offenders. Should we all be treated like we have done those things? Firm, fair and consistent, right? Some times the situation dictates it, but don't drop to their level. Have them come up as much as possible to yours. It may be hard to adapt to it, but it is well worth the effort. And much less paperwork.......
Click here for Part I.
Editor's note: Corrections.com author Bryan Avila started working as a Police Officer in 1994 while attending Norwich University in Northfield, VT. In 1999 he began working for the Vermont Dept of Corrections while still working as a Part-Time Police Officer. In 2007 he left public service until 2009 when he began working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He is currently a Correctional Training Instructor- Sergeant of Correctional Officers, at the TDCJ Region I Training Academy located in Huntsville, TX.
Other articles by Avila:
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