|Of Creeps and Jerks|
|By Joe Bouchard|
The following is an installment in "Operation Icebreaker: Shooting for Excellence", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.
Do we treat different types of offenders in different ways? Are all prisoners created the same? In the face of differences, how do we remain professional and consistent at the same time? Perhaps it is best to consider what sorts of behaviors are exhibited by offenders.
Little words can mean a lot. Pejorative words, even if they are mild, tend to have hidden connotations. The following question illustrates this: Would you rather be called a creep or a jerk? Let us assess this through the eyes of college students in criminal justice classes.
Here is a quick survey that will certainly stimulate discussion. This is a sure fire icebreaker that needs no materials and is likely to inspire students to tell stories from their own experiences.
What about application of the words to both males and females? Everyone seemed to agree in this informal survey that jerk (or its seven letter near-synonym that begins with the letter A) can apply to all humanity. The word creep, however, was not easily applied to both genders. Most said that females cannot be creeps. One student offered that women would rather be called a jerk than crazy. Whether one agrees or not, this is an interesting concept and it generated some heated discussion.
Let us look at the rest of the survey and the students’ answers:
In the end, when dealing with prisoners, the advice firm, fair and consistent is ideal. Of course, even though it is professional to treat all offenders the same, prisoners that display creepy behavior tend to evoke stricter discipline. During the course of your professional duties, it is best to assess what sort of prisoner you are dealing with and the best way to gain compliance. All of this points to the goal of protecting staff, offenders, and the public.
Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014” and "Operation Icebreakers: Shooting for Excellence". The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.
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