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Corrections: Behind the Scenes - Roll Camera, speed and action!
By William Daly , CPM, CCE, CJM
Published: 07/30/2012

Production crew Camera ready? Sound ready? Roll sound, roll camera, speed and action. If you ever observed films in production you would have witnessed some type of on-set cadence as the one just mentioned. Soon thereafter, the Director, usually states “cut” to indicate the film and shot are complete. What happens “behind the scenes” leading up to and after this highly choreographed scene is just a small portion of what has happened and is yet to come. The behind the scenes production that films demand, involve some significant work of support staff (sound and film crew, writers, costumes just to name a few).

Any profession can be scrutinized through the same glass, however, what may not be as observable are the men and women behind the scenes supporting the uniform staff in a correctional setting. Who are these people? Why are they important? After all, as a uniform staff member in charge of the care, custody and control of the communities most dangerous and volatile persons, what difference do these support staff make?

The support staff in any corrections environment is the hidden underground and provides many key roles that help influence whether the operations are smooth and unproblematic each and every day. The movie illustration identifies the cast of characters who play a vital role in the outcome of that motion picture and are indispensable, as is correction support staff.

So what is it am I referring to? Understanding that each department and/or facility operates differently; think about for a minute the basic sanitary, custodial and maintenance needs of a facility. If you are lucky enough to have persons other than inmates handling these duties, they have a profound effect in our environment. We often overlook the significance of those persons who change our light bulbs, empty our garbage, ensure toilets are working, running water, order our supplies and/or shine our floors just to name a few.

Many people do not ponder what would occur if these vital needs are not met. In fact, we come to take for granted what significance they have each day. Over time, these services, if not attended to will eventually corrode an already rough environment.

We often correlate the role of the uniform staff member as the most valued commodity in the corrections environment; however, we need not forget the worth of those non-uniform civilian workers to include secretaries, medical staff, education, social workers, etc. who work behind the scenes. As difficult as it may be to quantify their value to the correctional environment, they are nevertheless vital to its operation.

Support staffs contribute both financially and operationally. Their absence or failure to provide such services could bring the operation to a complete halt. The absence of these men and women would produce additional work and duties away from what we specialize in, watching inmates. In many professions, such as attorneys, doctors, bankers know their roles and “earn their keep”, so to speak. However, support staffs do not necessarily have such a clear earnings value but nevertheless provide efficient and valuable service to the corrections environment.

What occurs every day in the jail and corrections environment never happens in complete isolation. Each 24 hour cycle involves the careful and guided collection of staff behind the scenes to make the corrections world go round and round, aspiring for the least amount of issues.

The roles and responsibilities of support staff has and will continue to transform over time. The necessary inclusion and value of support staff is sometimes immeasurable, but make no mistake, the impact of those “behind the scenes” support staff amplifies the success of any occupation, including the corrections field.

Editor's note: Corrections.com author, William Daly, CPM, CCE, CJM is a veteran in the field of Corrections, entering his 26th year. Daly is a retired Captain from the New York City Department of Correction and Currently the Director of the Salt River Department of Corrections, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Other articles by Daly


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    He has blue eyes. Cold like steel. His legs are wide. Like tree trunks. And he has a shock of red hair, red, like the fires of hell. His antics were known from town to town as he was a droll card and often known as a droll farceur. Hamilton Lindley with his madcap pantaloon is a zany adventurer and a cavorter with a motley troupe of buffoons.

  3. turnkey on 08/04/2012:

    There are many professionals working hard behind the scenes and performaing unseen duties to ensure overall success to an organization. They are vital to the success of every industry.

  4. Writing Prof on 08/02/2012:

    Many times these issues are covered within union rules. I love your metaphor with the camera, etc. (p.s. You folk at Salt River are sure talented writers!)

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