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Bridge the Gaps in Generations Today
By Bernita Carmichael, Managing Director at SAFEPAC
Published: 07/14/2014

Bridginggap It appears the battle of passing the torch from 3 Generations of Correctional Professionals is experiencing a tug-of-war. The Baby Boomers are enjoying their 2nd and/or 3rd careers, Generation X appears threatened and territorial trying to keep up with the times, and Generation Y is echoing I have a solution and let innovation in. How can we create a win/win? How can you channel the energy from the energetic Generation Y to work for the greater good? I believe each generation should have the opportunity to build a 2nd career for themselves but they can’t get there with limited exposure or without an Elder as a guide. Speaking from my own Generation Y perspective; I’ve sat at the table with the Baby Boomers and Generation X to only feel used and abused as well as told to “Wait my turn” for positions they didn’t even have “work history” in. While I wait; I have student loan debt, living expenses, and a desire to complete my Masters; waiting won’t finance that. Is there really a turn to wait for? If so, please elaborate because in my 12 years it appears we fail to plan and opt out of coming alongside our public safety partners for additional resources. We’re supposed to be a public safety family yet on our own little island stealing and riding the backs of our own. If you didn’t do it your first career then build with the future to land it in another generations career. Have we become so institutionalized that we ignore the need to “Sow Seeds for the Future” of Corrections? I guess being our own little island we forgot we’re not alone and part of a public safety cluster that’s primary to us technically speaking. A cluster that can create more opportunities if we make it to the table when invited.

Corrections employee management style is said to be the model of Plantation management. Would you agree? Generations of employee’s have been subjected to more fear of the employees than the detainees; very verbally and nonverbally abusive to one another. For example, officers taking over a post assignment greetings are grunts and groans. Asking your Supervisor for days off and his eyes appear to be ready to pop out. Even the terms such as “Directives” and “Corrective Action” are overly written in incident statements for detainees and employees. Good terms but the approach and interpretations when used can be very unpleasant. For example, “ I gave Officer Williams a Directive to log me in the log book and she didn’t.” Why should I fear when the Warden, Director, or Commissioner walks in my direction or on your unit? They put their pants on one leg at a time and if they don’t then pinch yourself because you’re dreaming. Plus a corrections employee retirement plan isn’t identical to the military’s or any other primary public safety partners. To operate as a para military organization is insulting to the military because the bond the military have is something we have yet to achieve. Especially when “stress” isn’t honored by corrections workers compensation but the military honors “Post Traumatic Stress Disorders”.

Makes you wonder who really has the best interest of Corrections and who are they comprised of? I’m not referring to the “Certificate of Completion or Accreditation”; I’m referring to a panel of subject matter experts who don’t just wave they have a degree, retired looking for another stream of income, or came from some large firm who has shares or a contract with corrections. Bureaucracy is a given so I need another reason the next generation can’t shadow or sit at the table during critical decision making. Again, I’m not pointing to the relative who just got out of college still finding their way, the child of the large firm who holds a contract with corrections, nor the people sponsored on work Visa’s. I’m talking about the people who conduct the cell searches, security checks, perform preventative maintenance, conduct the counts, generate correspondence, bring you your coffee, get drafted for another shift, activate for emergencies, write your grants, create performance metrics, conduct policy reviews, and lobby for corrections. Many “front line and middle management” employees have degrees and/or some sort of continuing education credits but they’re overlooked because you can. Because you can doesn’t push corrections forward; it just makes it a cash cow for predators with like minds. Even when you use the restroom you still have to wash your hands and look in the mirror; look closer and longer. This is where our high overturn comes in at because other public safety employers are more attractive and generation friendly such as Police, Fire, Military, Courts, and Probation.

All families have their shortcomings but when you fail to abate the issues is where it becomes a problem including lacking a sense of community. It’s never too late to turn things around and it’s as simple as a friendly, “Hello, where do you see yourself five years from now in corrections and how can we develop a plan to get you there”? Let’s be a service to one another and not just the population we serve; that’s being a disservice. Together Everyone Achieves More….

Corrections.com author Bernita Carmichael began her 12-year long career in corrections with the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) Central Treatment Facility (CTF) in Washington, D.C. For the last six years she has been a ProBoard Registered Fire Protection Specialist and Registered OSHA Instructor for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections where she built a fire and safety program from the ground up. She has also contributed to the delivering of Department of Homeland Security Grants into Emergency Management/Interoperability Communications. She also sits as the Secretary on the District of Columbia Homeland Security Interoperability Communications Committee spearheaded by the DC Statewide Interoperability Coordinator Jeffrey Wobbleton and governed by the Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Paul Quander. Her passion to serve has birthed her newest creation as Founder and CEO of SAFEPAC which she states, "Is a seed in progress" for the many seeds her supporters have planted in her.

Other articles by Bernita


  1. rdarling@dorchestercounty.net on 07/21/2014:

    If I understand MS. Carmichael correctly, not saying I do, it sounds as if she is disgruntled because she has to wait her turn. Even though I understand her eagerness to move further in her career I must admit that I'm one of those that have retired and continue to clog up the system due to my rehire to the same position after retirement. I, a 28 year vet, to had to wait my turn to move forward myself. I started my career in 1986 and remained a private through most of my a career until 2009 and now serve my agency as a Captain. It's hard after 28 years of service to simply start over into a new career field, especially when you have bills, children still in school and so forth. During my entire career I've worked 2 to 3 jobs in order to support my family and now that, for first time in my career, I make good money I'm certainly not interested in giving up my profession especially with todays economy and with very few & limited employment opportunities. I do believe however, that todays leaders need to be educators teaching their subordinates/employees to take over their positions for the future and for the best interest of their agency. I feel that managers are only as good as their subordinates perform. How can you expect them to fulfill management positions & roles if they're not trained to do so. No matter what type of manager you are how can you expect someone to fill your shoes unless you guide, direct and teach them preparedness. Sharing your experience and knowledge instead of the old method of not educating preventing your replacement. How can you consider yourself dedicated to your agency setting your employees up for failure instead of success. Today, way to often, individuals get promoted and haven't a clue what needs to be done, leading to unnecessary law suits, poor management skills and even worst, the fall guy, the person who is dedicated but fails no matter their best efforts simple because of poor training and job education. Managers need to share their wealth of experience because no matter how long you intend to stay on the job the one thing that no one can change is that time eventually catches up with everyone. Maybe anyone wanting to move forward in their career simply needs to patient and take every opportunity to learn from their supervisor, understanding their type of management skills and knowledge then concentrate on applying what they've learned to be even a better and even the best supervisor they can be when their time comes.

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