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Corrections Xpression
By Lt. Stacie Mitchell
Published: 08/06/2012

Eku1 I have yet to meet a child or heard a story of a child who said they wanted to be a corrections officer when they grew up. It is not a career that has been glamorized through cinema, made people millionaires, brought anyone great fame or even mediocre gratitude. Yet, each day, thousands upon thousands of us don our gear to spend a day with individuals who have often been labeled as the dregs of the community. Corrections is a challenging career choice. For many, the obstacles are often overwhelming and lead to significant employee turnover rates. Low wages, non-traditional and extensive work hours, heightened potential for physical assaults, routine verbal confrontations and mental strain are just a few of the issues that contribute to the extensive list of challenges that identify this as a less than desirable career field.

For many, the thought of dedicating 20 or more years to this field is an overwhelming and often unconscionable endeavor. In order to persevere, remain diligent and keep a positive attitude, staff can’t get stuck on the sometimes demeaning, often routine and always under-appreciated tasks we deal with and focus on the greater service provided by corrections professionals.

My belief, which leads to my inspiration, which continues to be my motivation, is the fact that we, as corrections professionals, have the ability to influence and change a community as much (if not more) than any other social institution in history. Think about it, how often does anyone have the opportunity to influence change 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Teachers spend approximately 6 hours a day, 5 days a week with their students. On average, we spend no more than 4 hours a week at our place of worship. There is no counseling, rehabilitative program or vocational training that devotes the time that we, as corrections professionals, have to affect change and progress in the life of an offender. This is what the correctional profession is about. Whether we work with adults or juveniles, every moment we spend in a facility is an opportunity to teach and model positive behavior, thoughts and attitudes. Each time we verbally communicate, it could be a lesson in social behavior, norms and respect. Coming to work as scheduled with the right equipment and attitude models positive work habits, ethics and responsibility. These are the exact traits that many offenders lack. Modeling such could plant the seed needed to foster an individual’s growth and change.

A person who feels shunned by their community; thought of with contempt, disdain and disgust can never really feel they are a part of a greater whole. These prevalent attitudes displayed by many within our community just forces offenders to retreat into a subculture of crime and lawless abandon that feeds the cycle of recidivism. Feeling that you are the object of societies disdain and disgust leads to indifference to the needs of that society. If the fabric of our community has just one frayed thread, it jeopardized the strength, quality and beauty of what we could potentially become. Each member of our community is a thread, and to omit or neglect it only leaves room for that fabric to tear and ultimately become a hole. Antiquated correctional practices taught us that these elements (offenders) in our society should be excised, reducing our societal blanket to mere scraps. It hasn’t worked. If offenders feel like outsiders in their community, they will behave as outsiders. Without a sense of belonging, there are diminished feelings of obligation. Without obligation, it is hard to foster remorse. Without remorse, there are no boundaries to the inconvenience, suffering, consequences or pain their criminal acts may inflict.

A correctional facility is a community within a community. No longer should we dedicate our time to the simple task of warehousing offenders. The scope of our career has broadened to rehabilitative measures that release a more refined product than what we received. Educational, vocational and rehabilitative services provided in a corrections facility can act as a sieve, refining the often prevalent criminal and anti-social behaviors we see in offenders into beliefs, patterns and ideas that are acceptable to our society. As corrections professionals, we must erect a foundation that allows offenders to explore alternate lifestyles and open their mind to the opportunities that can be made available. An overwhelming number of offenders will be released back into the community. They may work or shop in the grocery store we shop in, fix our car, ride the same public transportation, live, eat, and sleep, next door, across the street, in the same apartment building or even in the same house. What kind of values do we want to model? What are the skills we want to teach?

I realize that not all offenders will make significant lifestyle changes during periods of incarceration. I do know, however, that sometimes the smallest event can be a catalyst for major change. Just as doctors are in the business of saving lives, they don’t quit because someone they treat dies. Educators keep teaching, even though they have students who fail their course. Both continue to craft their skills, avoid skepticism and continue to do what they can. Like those professionals, I have faith in the contributions my chosen profession can make to society. Throughout history, there have been a few noted individuals that have been credited to making significant change. However, more often than that, the most accomplished ideas and contributions have been from groups of individuals that have collectively shared an idea, thought or concept. The concept of rehabilitative incarceration is one that has caught the attention of our community and will continue to expand.

While these ideals may not fare well with all my counterparts, we, as corrections professionals need to recognize the role we can and do play in the reintegration of offenders into society. Our duties should be focused towards bringing unity within the members of our community through respect, accountability and responsibility and helping to repair the deviance's in social actions and behaviors that we often find in those we supervise.

Some may think me and my views to be naive, optimistic and/or unrealistic. Maybe they are – but as I hold fast to these concepts, I am propelled by my vision of what can be, not what is. I know that upward crime statistics still prevail. I know that recidivism rates are still nonsensically high, and that the fear of being a victim of some type of crime weighs heavily on many people. I also know there are certain offenders who will never benefit from any sort of rehabilitation, no matter how hard we try to provide and encourage it. As a corrections professional, however, I enjoy the multidisciplinary role of communicator, educator, crisis counselor, arbitrator, disciplinarian and problem solver. The combination of these tasks coupled with the potential contribution to my community accumulates this into a job, rather, a profession, that I am proud to be a member of.

Corrections.com author Lieutenant Stacie Mitchell, is part of the command staff at the Salt River Department of Correction in Scottsdale, AZ. She is experienced in working with both State and Tribal correction facilities


Comments:

  1. Fred Davis on 08/07/2012:

    It sounds like the Correctional system is doing the same job of what my first wife did with no help from the Industrial Complex and she instilled "her" ideas and "her" concepts into "her" children. She put in the same amount of time that the system is doing now. Of course the system at that time was getting only "one person" out there working for taxation purposes. Here is the "imprinting" and how this mass psychology really works from the cradle to the grave in socialism. Lt Mitchell can let me know if I get off course here. How it works: The exact opposite of tribalism is a democratic republic. Women are natural "nurturers" and this is good for a male up until maybe the age five or so. After that it is up to a male in the home to break that bond which the male has been "traumatized" with since birth. He cannot let that bottle go. That nipple thingy “is” him” now. My grandmother had to throw mine in the river and I felt like I had "died". Mine was a coke bottle with a nipple on top. Actually I was "dying out" to that "addiction" and was actually becoming more of a man incrementally. If a male needs his momma after that point (around 5 years) the trauma will be so strong that only the pain of what has happened to him by the grace of God can break it later. Those that are "imprinted" with this "trauma" and have not been "healed" will “cling” to another person, object or "image" to replace the "image" today in order to continue that nurturing or "parenting". These are what some call "institutional babies." If he is not "broken" by the Grace of God he will cling to that which nurtured him by "image" This is vain indeed. He "resents" his addiction and loves it at the same time as an alcoholic both loves and hates his own drink. I personally had to move out of my house like Davy Crockett in a vain attempt to escape the "s"mother "enabling love" of mom at 13 years of age. See. The socialist regurgitated verbal fallacy is that males are never imprinted with trauma from mother. Females are always the main" victims" of abuse. In reality the “first” trauma a male will face by "image" unless she (mom) dumps him into the nearest disposal will be the image of mom. The democrats make that "disposal" can easy today and will "force" such in the future through socialist health care if needs be. This happens often today when a male "kid" is blamed for the actions of a "shame-based" mother. The "kid" is blamed for "her" promiscuity and the blame game begins just as it was in the beginning. Momma by “image” metaphorically speaking is the loving "enabling democrat progressive" and step-dad (if he is still there) is already a "wuss" and is afraid to "correct" her so the "kid" still thinks he is a "mistake" The “three fold cord” or bond of "pseudo love" (the unholy trinity) of what is wrong is now "strengthened" through co-dependency. His "resentment" will do one of two things now through that addiction or co-dependency. He will love that "trauma" which he sees as love through his jaundiced eye that is really "resentment" and become possibly a police officer and maybe become a democrat and will "embrace" that which corrupted him through that "engram" or trauma (spirit-ideology) or he will become a “criminal” by hating that which corrupted him and become a skin head. He loses either way and the beat goes on from generation to generation. Even AA teaches these things and they are basic addiction healing principles. Read the Big Book or the Bible and they are the same in principles. I used the term "kid" simply because that is the colloquially bastardized term or jargon that the left uses today to describe a "child" today. How “edifying” is that? “made into the likeness of a goat”. How many miles must a man walk down before the progressives call him a man.

  2. Fred Davis on 08/07/2012:

    This is all well and good. Dealing with symptoms is good for a time but the causal factors" if realized and people woke up would cut back on "rebellion" and labor unions would get their little feelings hurt along with the next raise. The Criminal Justice Industry would take a hit economically. See I do not have a dog in this fight. Let's discuss the family and the traditional Common Law basic principle and the glue which keeps monies at the grass roots and not the the Industrial Complex. This fight about the traditional family is political hot air and a distraction. This is the deliberate dismantling of the traditional family where the headship of a male was important. Traditional families are incrementally becoming obsolete in this socialist regime. Now the children are running families through the regime of feminism supported by the male Marxist oligarchy as surrogate father. Children are the oppressors and women rule over the emasculated pool boy husbands. Any family with more than one authority or head is a freak. This is the fault and responsibility of the politically emasculated male who could not give his wife or daughter corrective love just as Adam could not tell Eve to put the apple down in the garden. These are the repercussions. Live with the invention of democracy manifested as your country is being dismantled at the same time. This socialist train is moving too fast to stop. Solomon said he could find one honest man in a thousand but not one honest woman in all. Even FOX news is light pornography today with a progressive she/male sitting in the middle and females sitting on either side of the new age male on both sides with outfits that a lady should only wear in the bedroom with their “proper” husband. Give not your strength to women or that which destroys kings. Every man born of woman is imprinted with the defects of civilization lost by default. Most are just returning to the scene of the crime by inheritance. What this culture, nor our politicians, do not know is that simply they are trying to be god and they do not realize that their arms are too short to box with Him or His principles. Failing in life is normal, but repeating the same failure over and over is insanity by definition.

  3. jamestown0509 on 08/06/2012:

    I do agree that we need to tell correction officers that it is not a job, it's a career and profession that they need to be dedicated to for at least 20 years. There will be officers who for one reason or another leave the profession to do something different (many want to be a police officer). If a CO really wants to succeed in this profession they need to be above reproach in their personal and professional lives just the same as police officers are required to do. Unlike police officers a CO cannot just leave a disruptive floor, tier go into a patrol car to get away from the stress to relax. COs have to be right in the middle of the area they are assigned to every day on all shifts regardless if the shift is easy or difficult. COs need to be proactive when they are working, looking for problems, listening first and talking after. The new dynamics of Verbal Judo combined with Inter Personal Communications (IPC) goes a long way to resolving issues with inmates. Corrections has changed in the last few years, we are getting more training and more education thus the old ways of supervising a block or tier have gone away to better and safer methods.

  4. Fred Davis on 08/06/2012:

    It has been said recently that the state of adolescence has been extended from eighteen until twenty-six. The perpetual state of adolescence creates a dullness of spirit and degrades youth as being less than their potential. Empathy projects one's own personality and belief systems into another. Sometimes empathy requires goals and outcomes. It neglects the regeneration of one's own spirit and personality. Each of us are as different as snowflakes and what the socialist cannot stand is one thinking for themselves. Tocqueville says it well, "Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided that they think of nothing but rejoicing.....It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd....Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrial animals of which the government is shepherd."

  5. Fred Davis on 08/06/2012:

    This is a great article. When I was in Hagerstown, Maryland, a friend of mine worked at midnight as a guard. He was called the Gray Fox, and he was very wise. The guard that came in before him did not have a lot of wisdom. The men on my tier would be watching TV, and at the end of guard's shift, she would turn the TV off at about 11:55. This caused a commotion on the tier. The Gray Fox came in and he called myself and another African American into his office and asked us why the inmates were so rowdy. We told him that the former guard cut off the TV before the end of the show on a habitual basis. My friend who came in at 12 midnight had to endure the flack. He had to deal with the anger and resentment that the former guard created. Sometimes if someone wants respect they need to show it first. Many of our laws today keep former offenders from integrating into society after release simply because laws marginalize them from procuring jobs and starting over. In other countries adolescents are not even accepted as a separate group and there is very little disrespect that young adults have towards their elders in those cultures. Formerly in this country youth was integrated into society by working with adults at an early age. This worked out quite well. After the Industrial Revolution young adults were marginalized through the false concept of an adolescence of storm and stress based on Darwinism. They isolated children and young adults and scooped them off the streets where they were put into Hull House in Chicago to be rehabilitated. They were chained to the beds, beaten, and there was no due process of law at all for anybody under eighteen. According to Dr. Robert Epstein's research a young adult reaches full cognitive abilities at the age of twelve and fourteen is generally the peak of abilities. After that, everything diminishes. Adolescence takes away rights and an inmate has more rights than a young adult on the outside of prison. The whole basis of adolescence redefined by G. Stanley Hall as a period of rebellion is a fallacy and a fraud. These young adults in their teens are not homogeneous as a group. It is projected by this culture that young adults are feeble as a whole until eighteen and that somehow at eighteen they are magically mature. When isolated as a separate society or subgroup from adults, they turn to peers for council and that stagnates spiritual and emotional growth. Hundreds of other countries do not accept this concept of adolescence simply because any group of young adults in their teens are heterogeneous indeed. Few individuals are aware that that concept of adolescence that was accepted and then politicized at Hull House in Chicago was based on the teachings of G. Stanley Hall, who used the false data of Haeckel who doctored up some drawings in an attempt to propagate that the brain does not mature until much later. We now know that research shows this "recapitulation theory" is a fallacy. When one thinks of rehabilitation, one thinks of reprogramming, but that leaves out regeneration of spirit and healing. One cannot be restored to something they never had, but with respect and corrective love a regeneration of spirit can occur. As long as this country cannot think out of the box of progressivism, things will continue to stagnate. I have great respect for those working in the prison staff, and it is very hard work. It takes wisdom and strength that is rare today. Our country leads in incarceration rates now even above Russia, and those on the list right below Russia are the regimes that we don't consider allies or friends in general. At the bottom of the list are the countries that have small incarceration rates, notably ones that were considered friends. Why are our incarceration rates on the list equal to the regimes just under the United States on the list? This is something to think about. It is true that industries and unions have used teen culture to have great profits, and the unions in 1920 marginalized the teens from working to keep the labor unions going. I guess it is a choice of research, data, and history versus profit at the expense of the next generation of the youth who will bear the burden.

  6. turnkey on 08/04/2012:

    Great Attitude. The Corrections world is/has to rediscover itself from past practices. This will be slow, however, as new academics and generations join the workforce there promises to be coming change.

  7. Pdub on 08/03/2012:

    Outstanding article Lt. Mitchell.

  8. Writing Prof on 08/02/2012:

    Excellent attitude. Your inmates, and their families, are lucky to have you.

  9. wardenray on 08/02/2012:

    I enjoyed Lt. Mitchell's article on her perception of corrections as a profession. However, the first couple of paragraphs made me think maybe I chose the wrong profession. My career spanned 33 years in federal, state, local and private prisons. I was proud of the career I had chosen but my greatest source of pride was when one of my two sons chose corrections as well. He has since surpassed the accomplishments of his father in a profession that is constantly changing. Keep up the good work and maintain your positive attitude. You will be rewarded. wardenray


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