|The Importance of Cross-Gender Supervision|
|By Anthony Gangi|
There are obvious arguments against cross-gender supervision that remain rather primitive and deal directly with older methods of jailing with no regards for rehabilitation. These older methods relate to the old-fashion turn key style of lock up, where no effort is made to prevent recidivism and interactions with the inmate population was extremely limited. Being that corrections have evolved and more effort is now being geared towards rehabilitation, correctional officers are now being force to interact with the inmate population in a more productive and detailed manner.
If corrections were kept in the shadows, with no attempt to evolve, then cross-gender supervision would be obsolete. There would be no need for balance because there would be no effort from the higher ups to create a world, within a world, where rehabilitation superseded punishment. To the uninformed, those who remain on the outside, this is the world that exist. In their minds, inmates stay confined within their cells until their final day of imprisonment has been reached. During their stay, inmates remain in solitude and interactions with staff occur at a bare minimum. Again, this is the world that has been created in the minds of the uninformed, which, by this standard, does not reflect reality.
Moving forward, as those in corrections already know, this above mentioned belief is definitely not the case. Inmate movements occur throughout the day. Rehabilitation has defined the inmate's way of life while incarcerated and, throughout the day, a constant effort must be maintained by correctional staff so the inmate can leave the facility in a manner that is stable and conducive to society's norms. By this standard, cross-gender supervision provides the inmate with a true sense of reality. By limiting the inmate to same-gender supervision, their ability to interact properly with the opposite gender will become strictly limited to past practices. In some cases, these past practices are deeply rooted by the negative interactions with the opposite gender that have scarred the individual in the first place.
If we are looking to send forth an adjusted individual, we can not underestimate the power behind cross-gender supervision. If we look to rehabilitate, we need to create, as much as possible, a true reflection of the outside world. Failure to create that sense of realism will severely limit any attempt to rehabilitate.
Recent attempts by Federal standards are being made to prevent interactions between officers of opposite gender and the inmates that reside within their line of authority. These recent attempts have generalized all officers of opposite-gender as one bad seed that must be eliminated. This generalization is unfair because it creates a stigma without any sense of regard towards those who, even though they are opposite of gender, remain professional in their duties and have proven themselves to be an asset on all needed levels of the agency. Generalization, like the one mentioned above, become the centerpiece in which the uninformed derive their legislation. This generalization presents a sense of dishonor to those who have held themselves true to the badge they are sworn to uphold. Eventually, through unfair legislation, certain officers will be looked at as a liability, as opposed to being seen as true professionals.
In closing, I would like to highlight one example that can be used as a point of reference. Within this one example, an honest debate can manifest, but, keep in mind, that the need to run a safe and secure facility is still paramount. But, since we have evolved, we must make room for secondary necessities, like rehabilitation, that can be maintained only through an orderly and secured facility. It is through these secondary necessities that true adjustment by the inmate will occur. Having said that, any attempt for a successful adjustment made by the inmate can only occur if the inmate is exposed to real life situations that will continue to challenge their negative view of the opposite-gender.
My example relates to a female who was constantly abused by male aggressors. This abuse caused her to react in a manner that led to her incarceration. During incarceration, her time is now spent away from the opposite-gender. At this point, she begins to further develop her sense of fear and disgust towards males. This sense of fear and disgust now becomes deeply embedded in who she is because, within that sense of fear and disgust, she has learned to justify her crime. Therefore, to keep that state of mind balanced, she may generalize the action of just the few to the many. Now, being in continued isolation from the opposite-gender, her pervasive perspective becomes her foundation of belief towards her gender counterpart. She can not see outside the box because she is limited to what's inside her head. Her limited dealings with the opposite-gender will not break her away from the corrupted thoughts that have now become the backbone of her existence while in isolation.
Being that corrections now looks to rehabilitate, cross-gender supervision will create the dissonance needed to challenge her pervasive perspective and create the alternative perspective needed, which will highlight the proper role model for outside adjustment. In essence, the need for cross-gender supervision runs parallel with rehabilitation. If we stand and limit the need for cross-gender interaction and supervision, the inmate will remain with the original frame of reference which will follow them upon release and then bring them right back in prison.
For over twelve years, Anthony Gangi has worked in the correctional setting dealing with both male and female offenders. He served on the custody level and has moved through the ranks from line officer to supervisor and has also spent time as an instructor. His background in psychology has helped him to become a leading expert in inmate manipulation.
Anthony is also the host of "Tier Talk", a radio program that looks at corrections from an international level. You can catch "Tier Talk" on Saturday nights at 6 pm Eastern Standard Time on DDV Radio. For more information regarding the show or other publications by Anthony, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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