Mayberry?s lockup may still be what many people think of when they hear the word ?jail,? but Andy and Barney would be amazed by the technology, training and professional staff required to operate a modern jail. Iron bars and paracentric keys are fast becoming antiques. Direct
supervision housing units, staffed by
officers trained in interpersonal communication
skills, have replaced catwalks,
cellblock tiers and ?turnkeys.?
In the past, inmates literally ran 90
percent of a facility, the housing areas,
while staff managed the other 10 percent,
the hallways and control rooms.
Today, a direct supervision pod officer
manages the entire housing unit,
much like a teacher in a classroom.
Good business practices drive the
design and operation of well-run facilities.
That includes staff-efficient
design, meaning jails can no longer be
built without regard to the number of
staff required to operate them. Also,
there is cost-effective operation and a
work environment that motivates staff
to stay on the job. The latter is critical
since it costs about 50 percent of a
correctional officer?s annual salary to
recruit, hire and train a replacement.
Technological innovations have
changed the way detainees are
booked and tracked through the criminal
justice system. For example, inkless
fingerprints and digital video
imaging are now the norm. They provide
the means to electronically transfer
information to state and federal
authorities via the Automatic Fingerprint
Identification System (AFIS).
Facial recognition software, when
used at the jail entry, can reduce the
number of aliases entered into a jail?s
database by insuring positive identification
before the arresting officer
returns to his or her zone. And bar
coding is not just for grocery stores. It
is essential for in-house inmate and
Also, GPS electronic monitoring
offers an alternative to incarceration
that rivals bail as a release mechanism.
Touchscreen computer kiosks
for inmates in housing units allow
instant access to information, greater
accountability and relief to correctional
officers (from the repetitiveness of
responding to questions from inmates
about canteen orders, program participation
and scheduled court or visitation
dates). And the National Institute
of Corrections Large Jail Network?s
Listserv encourages communication
and the exchange of information
among agencies. The groundbreaking
work in this area done by NIC has
resulted in similar listserves in several
states. In Florida, the Jail Managers
Listserv (FJML) connects almost all of
the 67 jail administrators in a closed
network. Real-time information sharing
makes it possible to conduct
instant surveys, which serve as a
benchmark for the development of
What is next on the horizon? How
about single level (no mezzanine)
direct supervision dormitories for
general population inmates? They are
less expensive to build and easier to
manage than ?traditional? direct
supervision housing units, yet they
provide the same level of security.
After years of experience with the low
rise model in Tampa, a high rise version
is on the drawing boards there.
Another emerging innovation is
extended hour, seven-day per week,
child care for jail staff. Hillsborough
County?s new child care center will be
open for inspection to those who
attend ACA?s winter conference in
January 2007 in Florida.
Finally, what serves as the benchmark
for a well run jail? The answer, of
course, is accredited status. Today,
more than 100 jails have achieved that
coveted level. It requires a lot of hard
work and determination to prove that
the accredited facility does not just
get the job done, it gets it done well.
Andy and Barney would probably
have a difficult time fathoming that
concept. Thank goodness, times have
A Salute to Women Working in Corrections
By James A. Gondles, Jr., CAE
American Correctional Association
October 2005, Corrections Today
My mother, Bertha Gondles, often told me stories of her childhood in Oklahoma where she worked with her brother, Richard, hoeing cotton. They would come home for lunch every day. After lunch, Richard would lie down on the living room floor and rest while my mother cleaned the table and washed the dishes. After she completed these chores, they both went back to the cotton field for the afternoon. She said she never understood why she was expected to do more work while her brother rested.
Many people hearing this story may believe this is not a big deal, but it is to me. It taught me at a very early age that there are different expectations for men and women. Women very often are breadwinners or bread contributors as well as homemakers, mothers, house managers, etc. In addition, women who work outside the house face yet another obstacle called the glass ceiling ? the unofficial barrier in an organization that often prevents women from advancing in their careers.
Women deserve equal pay for equal work. However, they often are denied this. Women also deserve the same opportunities for advancement as men. Our nation, as well as the corrections field, needs to improve in this area.
Women are increasingly well represented in corrections but are still in the minority. Women make up about 35 percent of personnel in adult corrections, with 23 percent as wardens and superintendents. In juvenile corrections, women make up about 45 percent of the work force and about 32 percent of administrators. This is a dramatic change from a decade ago when the gender gap in corrections was much wider.
It is the American Correctional Association?s (ACA) policy to encourage the employment of women in corrections. We urge all agencies to be demonstrably open and fair in their recruitment, selection and promotional opportunities for women. I am pleased to see more and more women choosing our field as a career and taking advantage of the opportunities for advancement. I hope the trend continues. ACA will do everything it can to see that it does.
I am proud to say that our Association recognizes people for their talents without regard to their gender. It has been my honor to have served Presidents Su Cunningham, Helen G. Corrothers, Bobbie Huskey, Betty Adams Green and Gwendolyn C. Chunn. Each of these women has led our Association with professionalism, high standards and immense success. Another woman that works as hard as anyone I have ever known is my wife, Dr. Elizabeth F. Gondles. Many times I receive compliments for ?good ideas,? but they most often come from Elizabeth.
ACA has set high standards for equality based on one?s abilities and drive ? not race, age, gender or other criteria. Our staff at ACA reflects that outlook. Most of our department directors are women and it has been this way for nearly 15 years. The majority of ACA?s work force consists of women as well. This kind of equality is not just ACA?s policy; it is in our culture as well. We value a diverse work force. The talents and hard work that women contribute to ACA is a great benefit to corrections and the Association.
This issue of Corrections Today salutes women working in corrections. Guess what? Every woman who has been a mother works in corrections, and many of those who never were mothers work in ?corrections? as well, as teachers, business professionals, homemakers, managers and so on. While this issue features insightful articles on networking, mentoring, leadership, recruiting and retention by some of the brightest women in corrections, it also celebrates the unique contributions of all women.
As Corrections Today honors the women of our profession, I salute Bertha Gondles, Elizabeth Gondles, Su Cunningham, Helen G. Corrothers, Bobbie Huskey, Betty Adams Green, Gwendolyn C. Chunn as well as ACA?s department directors: Gabriella Daley Klatt, Cathy Gibney, Marge Restivo, Debbi Seeger, Rene Spector and the many other women who have enriched my life, ACA and the world with their presence.
Incarceration as a Failed Policy
Alvin J. Bronstein
Director Emeritus ACLU National Prison Project
U.S. Board Member, Penal Reform International
August 2005, Corrections Today
Executive Director?s Note: In an effort to see other points of view concerning corrections, our profession and public policy involving criminal justice, from time to time, I invite others to use space in this editorial column. This month?s comments are from a good friend, Al Bronstein, who I agree with sometimes and disagree with sometimes. I hope Al?s comments will evoke some replies to Corrections Today.
Jim Gondles has invited me to write a guest editorial on ?why U.S. policies on incarceration are ineffective in terms of crime control, costly and counterproductive? ? something I had said to him in an e-mail in another context. I was glad to receive this invitation, and I should point out in the beginning that my criticisms in this article apply to almost any country?s policies on incarceration and not just the United States?. This is not intended as an attack on U.S. prisons but rather prisons in general. There are better, less damaging prisons than those in the United States, such as those in the Scandinavian countries. And there are many that are far worse. I have been to prisons in some countries, such as Russia and Brazil, that make ours really look like country clubs. The point is not how new, modern or well equipped prisons are, but rather the fact that incarceration itself is, in my opinion, a complete failure.
In his marvelous 1974 book, The Future of Imprisonment, Norval Morris, the distinguished criminologist and long-time consultant to the Federal Bureau of Prisons wrote: ?The criminal law?s reach has been extended in this country far beyond its competence, invading the spheres of private morality and social welfare proving ineffective, corruptive and criminogenic. This overreach of the criminal law has made hypocrites of us all and has cluttered the courts and filled the jails and prisons, the detention centers and reformatories, with people who should not be there.?
When that was written, we had about 350,000 men, women and children in our nation?s jails and prisons; today we have more than 2.2 million. And prisons here and throughout most of the world are still ineffective, corruptive and criminogenic. It is widely recognized by criminologists and corrections professionals that we have locked up too many social nuisances who are not real threats, and too many petty offenders and minor thieves, severing the few social ties that they have and pushing them toward more serious, criminal behavior. In the United States, we inappropriately incarcerate the mentally ill, and those people addicted to drugs and alcohol who have committed nonviolent offenses.
Prisons generally make people worse. In 1973, The National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals recommended that ?the institution should be the last resort for correctional problems.? They gave their reasons ? failure to reduce crime, success in punishing but not in deterring, providing only temporary protection to the community, changing the offender but mostly for the worst ? and concluded that ?the prison has persisted partly because a civilized nation could neither turn back to the barbarism of an earlier time nor find a satisfactory alternative.? Today, more than 30 years later, we have a new national commission that is looking at the abuses in and the problems of prisons in America.
Again, nothing has changed except that there are many more people in prison, and our prisons are now larger and more destructive of the human personality than before with fewer programs and harsher regimes. Many years of studies have revealed that only three possible changes in the life of an inmate during his or her incarceration are correlated with later conformity to the conditions of release and with the avoidance of new criminal behavior: the availability of a family or other supportive groups to join upon release; the availability of a reasonably supportive job; and the process of aging itself, which eventually eliminates criminal behavior as an option. Getting a job and preserving or creating social relationships are exactly what prison most interferes with, although it does provide time for aging. It is clear that we incarcerate people not to treat them but for a variety of other reasons. Increasingly, prisons are places of punishment and have nothing to do with rehabilitation.
One of the great prison reformers in the world, Baroness Vivien Stern, secretary general of Penal Reform International, in her 1998 book A Sin Against the Future: Imprisonment in the World, wrote: ?It is a great strength of the reform movement that the people in the system know that what is going on is wrong. They say so through the associations to which they belong. They need to be reinforced in their conviction that whilst they are contracted to carry out their instructions and follow their rule book, they have a higher loyalty to a set of values and principles. It will not be an excuse for the perpetrator of a clear human rights abuse to say, ?I was just obeying orders.? Prison staff need to be given the confidence and courage to continue to point out what is wrong. Perhaps they should require that the international norms and instruments governing the treatment of prisoners should be written not just into prisoners? rights, but into their rights too, as staff. There are rules governing how prisoners should be treated. So also should there be equivalent rules governing what prison staff can be asked to do, and making it clear what they cannot be asked to do.?
And as Nelson Mandela once said, ?Prison not only robs you of your freedom, it attempts to take away your identity. Everyone wears a uniform, eats the same food, follows the same schedule. It is by definition a purely authoritarian state that tolerates no independence and individuality.?
In 1999, a large group of criminal justice professionals, academics and officials from 50 different countries from five continents met for five days in Egham, England, to consider ?a new approach for penal reform in a new century.? At the end of the five-day meeting, they drafted, without any dissents, an agenda for that new approach that included among them the following:
- The understanding that penal reform is an essential part of good governance;
The awareness that penal reform cannot proceed without changes to the criminal justice system as a whole, and that crime prevention in and by civil society is essential to the success of penal reform;
The determination to make sure that everyone, especially the poor and marginalized, has equal access to the justice system;
The recognition that drug abuse is usually better dealt with inside the health or social welfare care system rather than the criminal justice system, especially when there is no violence involved; and
- The need to enrich the formal judicial system with informal, locally based, dispute resolution mechanisms that meet human rights standards.
During the past 40 years, I have visited hundreds of prisons and jails in the United States and many prisons in Asia, Latin America and Eastern and Western Europe. The best, minimally destructive, prison that I have ever been to is a maximum-security prison in the city of Ringe, Denmark, which I visited on a number of occasions.
This is a small, maximum-security prison that houses male and female inmates together, all of them recidivists, in which every inmate works at a productive job every day, where correctional officers wear no uniforms and work side-by-side with the inmates, and has many other marvelous features. Every time I left the prison and walked out through the main entry way, I was accompanied by the prison governor, Eric Andersen. Each time I left, I would say, ?Eric, this really is a marvelous prison.? And his answer each time was, ?But remember, Al, all prisons damage people.?
Merging History and Technology
By James A. Gondles, Jr., CAE
American Correctional Association
July 2005, Corrections Today
Nestled along the Missouri River, the Leavenworth U.S. Penitentiary (USP) is both a beautiful, historical artifact and a fully functioning correctional facility. USP Leavenworth came into existence through an act of Congress in 1895, and the facility was officially opened in 1906 after a decade of construction. The ?New Penitentiary,? as it was called, was seen as a marvel of custodial architecture. The facility was a bold attempt at a completely self-contained prison, putting all the necessary facilities within a 35-foot high wall, extending nearly as far below ground as above, encircling 16 acres. Included within the walls of the prison were a power plant, a hospital and, for the first time in history, a school. Today, ?The Big Top? continues to house more than 1,800 inmates and serves as a key component of the federal prison system. Needless to say, the technology of prison construction as well as technology that aids in the management of information and offenders has advanced greatly since the ?New Penitentiary? was built (with much of that technology being incorporated into the operations of the penitentiary).
Corrections officials around the country struggle to adapt structures that were build in different eras for use today. USP Leavenworth is certainly one of the most extreme examples, but there are numerous other prisons around the country that have successfully managed to adapt to today?s technological environment. Further, there are buildings and facilities being used by community corrections programs that were not designed for correctional purposes. Those operating these facilities have used technologies to create safe, efficient environments for offenders.
Technology is defined as the technical means people use to improve their surroundings; a knowledge of using tools and machines to complete tasks efficiently. Society uses technology to control the world in which we live. Technology is people using knowledge, tools and systems to make their lives easier and better. Through technology, people communicate better and work more efficiently and effectively.
Technology enhances corrections at all levels by reducing costs while improving security and the effective monitoring of offenders. Technology can be used in all types of correctional environments, but it must be adapted to meet the specific needs of those it serves. Correctional agencies should make use of the latest technologies to enhance the performance of their duties and responsibilities.
Technology solutions must be incorporated into the design and construction of new facilities as well as integrated into the fabric of historic facilities, such as the 99-year-old USP Leavenworth. The use of technology can be used to improve information management, monitoring and surveillance systems, perimeter security, communications and internal detection systems.
Technology is also used to manage information about offenders for classification and programming purposes. Technology allows information to follow offenders throughout their incarceration and into the probation/parole fields. Technology helps us evaluate the effectiveness of programs while also ensuring that offenders are matched with service providers that offer the types of programming and support that is needed for the successful re-integration of an individual back into the community.
The American Correctional Association strongly believes that technology enhances correctional operations and makes correctional facilities safer and more efficient. Technology has revolutionized the corrections profession. Even as we continue to use facilities built in a different time, we can use technology to ensure that correctional facilities are operated efficiently and effectively and in a manner that enhances safety and security for the public, staff and offenders.
Being the Best Is Not Enough
By James A. Gondles, Jr., CAE
American Correctional Association
June 2005, Corrections Today
During the past few years, three major issues have dominated policy and political debates on correctional issues. The first issue centers on sexual assaults within the nation's correctional facilities. Believing that sexual assault is common inside correctional facilities, advocates began a campaign to call attention to the, as they put it, ?massive, growing and epidemic prison rape? that ?besets our nation's prisons, jails and detention facilities.? Activists pointed to studies that ?conservatively estimated that one in 10 of the 2 million prisoners in the United States has been raped.?
The second major debate surrounding corrections relates to abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib were unfortunate, and the corrections profession was quick to condemn them. However, the revelations of abuse were used to make sweeping allegations that the abuse in Abu Ghraib occurred because abuse is tolerated and rampant in American correctional systems.
The third major debate that has surrounded corrections relates to offender reentry. Of the more than 2.1 million people currently in state and federal prison, more than 97 percent will eventually be released back into our communities. Unfortunately, according to recent data from the Department of Justice, two-thirds of the more than 600,000 individuals released from prison each year are rearrested within three years.
These three issues have one thing in common: In each instance, the American public expects more. We cannot deny that there are sexual assaults in U.S. prisons; yet the American public believes all individuals should be completely free from the physical and psychological abuse of sexual assault. Even as the American Correctional Association, as well as the other organizations that represent our profession, jumped to the defense of corrections in debates surrounding sexual assault in the nation's jail and prison systems, we could not deny that some violence and some sexual activity does occur inside correctional facilities. This is not acceptable to the public.
The corrections profession can claim that the abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib were the result of combining intelligence gathering with correctional operations coupled with inadequate training, a lack of transparency and poor leadership. However, the fact remains that abuses did occur in a correctional setting, and the public wants nothing less than zero assaults.
Corrections officials can point to studies that show that those released from our correctional facilities often lack access to community programs that provide assistance locating employment, finding a place to live, and obtaining mental health and substance abuse treatment. Yet, the public is only concerned with the fact that recidivism remains unacceptably high, regardless of where the blame lies.
Given the myriad of challenges our profession faces each day, we cannot expect to be perfect; however, we must always strive for perfection. It is unacceptable for there to be even one escape from our facilities or for one offender to be assaulted while under our care. We should accept nothing less than perfection in what we do.
If the public was willing to accept 99.9 percent, there would be two unsafe landings each day at O'Hare International Airport; 500 incorrect surgical procedures each week; 16,000 pieces of mail lost or misrouted by the U.S. Postal Service each hour; more than 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions each year; and nearly 50 newborn babies dropped at birth by doctors every hour. In corrections, we face the same high demands and expectations as those in these other professions. And I know that corrections professionals work tirelessly to meet those expectations. I know that you will not accept anything less than perfection ? and no one would want you to.
A Constituency for Crime Control
By James A. Gondles, Jr., CAE
American Correctional Association
In early February, the president presented his FY2006 (beginning Oct 1, 2005) budget to Congress. The president?s budget materials relating to the Justice Department stress that crime, including violent crime, is at a 30-year low. Yet, the president, citing the ineffectiveness of multiple programs, proposes cuts in law enforcement grants to states of nearly $1.3 billion. Clearly, the law enforcement community is not doing enough to explain the impact that federally supported crime reduction programs are having across the nation.
The main criticism that the Bush administration, as well as critics in Congress, use to justify eliminating numerous general purpose state and local law enforcement programs, including the Community Oriented Police Services Hiring Grants, the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants and the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants, is that the programs have failed to demonstrate results with respect to reducing crime. Clearly, some combination of factors has led to the nation?s decline in crime. Yet, the administration fails to give credit for the reduction in crime to the investment of resources in state and local law enforcement programs that are designed to provide support to at-risk populations. The law enforcement community must take the credit that is theirs.
With the support of federal programs, the law enforcement community has embraced mentoring programs, religious-based providers and sought to reach out to the community in ways never before imagined. The law enforcement community has worked to establish an array of programming choices for offenders designed to help them find jobs, a place to live, health care and substance abuse treatment. The law enforcement community has expanded partnerships with community providers to ensure that at-risk populations, often before they enter the criminal justice system and almost always as they are leaving our charge, are able to access programming and services designed to reduce criminal activity.
To preserve funding for programs endangered by the Bush administration?s budget proposal, as well as to ensure funding for other priority areas for corrections including mental health and substance abuse treatment, reimbursement for the incarceration of criminal aliens, and reentry programs, the law enforcement community must do a better job of both demonstrating the results of its programs and building a political constituency to support these programs.
In recent years, there has been a renewed effort to ensure that programs using federal funds are able to demonstrate quantifiable results (more than antidotal results demonstrating the program?s effectiveness). In the criminal justice world, demonstrating that a program has prevented crime is a difficult task. The law enforcement community can not predict who will commit a crime nor can it predict when a crime will occur. Thus, logically, it is difficult to measure a program on its ability to deter criminal behavior ? after all, the law enforcement community cannot be certain that an individual would have committed a crime if he or she had not been in the program.
Despite this inherent constraint, the law enforcement community can demonstrate to political leaders the impact that the programs it has established are having on at-risk populations. There is no substitute for personal interaction with your federal officials. I encourage you to invite your representatives and senators to tour your facilities and observe your programs. I encourage you to reach out to them and their key staff members to educate them regarding the population that enters the criminal justice system and the myriad of barriers that offenders face as they work their way through the system and back to society. Together the law enforcement community can and will save the programs most vital to its success. And it will continue to make a difference.
Returning to Society
By James A. Gondles, Jr., CAE
American Correctional Association
April 2005, Corrections Today
More than 95 percent of those currently incarcerated will be released back into our communities. The Department of Justice estimates that nearly two-thirds of these individuals will be rearrested within three years. This statistic should set off alarms for every community and citizen.
The American Correctional Asso-ciation?s Declaration of Principles states, ?Corrections is responsible for providing programs and constructive activities that promote positive change for responsible citizenship.? ACA believes that the opportunity for positive change or rehabilitation is basic to the concept of corrections, as punishment without the opportunity for redemption is unjust and ineffective. This belief is also reflected in the mission statements of correctional departments across the country. If corrections cannot address the recidivism rates, we are not adequately doing our job. As President Bush said in his 2004 State of the Union address, ?America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.? I wish everyone in the country and world believed what the president said, and I hope his administration will follow through on that statement in the coming term.
A large percentage of those leaving U.S. prisons and jails face substance abuse disorders, chronic health issues, low levels of education and job training, and a general lack of resources that, when taken together, make it hard for these people to have a real chance at a ?normal? life upon their release.
Studies show that 15 percent to 27 percent of inmates expect to go to homeless shelters upon release from prison. Ex-offenders often return to communities where persistent poverty and lack of jobs and affordable housing make finding a permanent home difficult. Without transitional housing, it is almost impossible for an offender to obtain the credit and rent-payment history necessary to live independently and maintain permanent housing. Affordable housing ? and for some, supportive housing that is drug, alcohol and crime free ? is critical if treatment and services are to successfully re-integrate the individual into the community.
In addition, statistics show that an individual with a job is less likely to commit another crime following his or her release from prison, but ex-offenders face numerous barriers to obtaining employment. Those released from correctional facilities are entering a competitive labor market often saddled with low levels of literacy, limited skills and work experience, and difficulty finding an employer who will hire them. Individuals with criminal records may also be legally disqualified from many kinds of jobs and barred by state laws from obtaining professional licenses in such fields as cosmetology and home health care.
Finally, studies show that substance abuse treatment leads to reduced rates of recidivism. As many as 80 percent of offenders have alcohol and drug problems and/or were under the influence of drugs and alcohol when they committed their offense. Despite research indicating that substance abuse treatment in prison and after release helps offenders stay drug and arrest free, only 13 percent of the 70 percent to 85
percent of state inmates who need treatment are able to access it while incarcerated.
America must address these issues, as well as the multitude of other issues that prevent those who have served their sentences from leading a ?normal? life. Our society also must ensure that once offenders have paid for their actions, they have access to the programs, services and resources that will allow them to successfully reenter our communities, including the right to participate in democracy by voting.
The successful reentry of offenders impacts community safety by reducing crime and victimization. It can improve community health by ensuring that those at risk for contagious and chronic diseases obtain necessary medical care. Successful reentry can also impact budgets at the federal, state and local levels. And, most important, it can improve the lives and welfare of children and families. Yet if we funded programs at adequate levels within correctional facilities and systems, the ?reentry? phase would go away, or at least diminish considerably. Because, after all is said and done, if we are given the tools to assist offenders in turning their lives around, the ?problem? of reentry would not even be on the table today. It amazes me that some people are just now discovering the ?problem.? It is time for federal, state and local agencies to give corrections the tools necessary to take this challenge off the radar screen.
The Mentally Ill Don't Belong in Jail
By James A. Gondles, Jr., CAE
American Correctional Association
February 2005, Corrections Today
The criminal justice system does not pick and choose those who enter our nation?s jails and prisons. Law enforcement officers on the street make the choice to arrest an individual, and the judicial system makes the determination that an individual must be placed under correctional supervision. Most important, that individual makes the decision to commit the act that sets the whole process in motion. Yet, correctional staff have an obligation to care for and treat every individual who enters our systems and to prepare them, to the best of our abilities, for their eventual return to society.
The number of individuals in state mental hospitals peaked at more than 550,000 in the mid-1950s. Today, there are approximately 70,000 individuals with severe mental illness housed in public psychiatric hospitals. In contrast, one in every eight state inmates is receiving some mental health therapy or counseling services and nearly 10 percent of state inmates are receiving psychotropic medications, including antidepressants, stimulants, sedatives, tranquilizers or other antipsychotic drugs.
Correctional agencies are often inadequately equipped or trained to house and treat those with mental illness. Yet, in many jurisdictions, correctional agencies have become the default provider of housing and services to those with mental illness. The two largest providers of mental health services in the United States are the Los Angeles County Jail and Riker?s Island in New York.
Despite the proliferation of mentally ill offenders in the criminal justice system, these individuals are not often fit subjects for retribution or punishment, the typical reasons that individuals are confined to correctional programs or facilities. The notion that the prospect of incarceration will deter an individual with a mental illness from committing a crime does not apply to a population that cannot fully comprehend the consequences of its actions, especially in cases where the crime is a direct result of an illness. Often, the commission of a criminal act is a result of society?s failure to provide adequate mental health in the community. After a crime is committed, the result sometimes is the lack of coordination between the criminal justice system and mental health system to provide mental health services during incarceration and reentry.
The mission of correctional agencies is to rehabilitate offenders and prepare them for their eventual release back into the community. Although the population with mental health disorders may be difficult to manage and presents numerous challenges, correctional entities have a responsibility to care for and treat these individuals. Yet, far too often the criminal justice system is used as a ?dumping ground? for many individuals who could be better served through early intervention in noncustodial environments because other options are just not available.
The implementation of comprehensive, coordinated community mental health systems that could help to ensure that individuals with mental health disorders have ready access to treatment is still far from a reality in most jurisdictions across America. State spending for treatment of the seriously mentally ill is approximately one-third the level of the 1950s and lags far behind the need. The inability of states and localities to provide service is widely seen as the main cause of the ?criminalization of the mentally ill,? a term that is widely used to capture many issues regarding mentally ill persons who find themselves in jail and eventually prison.
At ACA, we believe that the most powerful force in the promotion of understanding different cultures is exposure to those cultures.
By James A. Gondles, Jr., CAE
American Correctional Association
December 2004, Corrections Today
As executive director of the American Correctional Association, I have been fortunate enough to travel the country and the world. I have met thousands of people who made the choice to work in corrections and have developed friendships with people from virtually every aspect of the field. I have seen where they live and work, met their families and come to understand the many unique challenges that individuals in our profession face each day.
The correctional employees that I have met are dedicated to ensuring that the offenders who are placed in their charge are effectively supervised in safe, secure and humane environments. They work to instill a sense of responsibility in offenders and also the ability to become law-abiding, productive members of society. These individuals perform their duties in a very challenging, and sometimes adversarial, environment providing care and treatment to individuals whom society has deemed dangerous or in need of treatment.
Correctional facilities are among the most unique institutions of American society. Correctional staff have a tremendous amount of authority over the offender population. Because of this authority, the potential for abuse can be quite significant. Yet, without exception, those people whom I have met during my career in corrections have, either consciously or subconsciously, made a choice to respect those who society has chosen to place in the hands of corrections professionals. They interact with them with honesty, respect and integrity. They choose to respect the dignity and rights of all individuals, regardless of their lifestyle and their life circumstances. They see the potential for human growth and development in all people. This choice is what makes them professionals.
In the United States, we embrace our differences and individualism. Our belief in individualism predates the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War and is an essential part of what makes us American. Yet, in corrections, we must interact with and care for individuals from a vast array of different cultures and backgrounds. Also, we must interact with individuals who have values that are dramatically different from our own. Even as professionals, it is difficult to truly understand these differences. We can choose to accept the differences among us and embrace them, but it is difficult to sometimes understand the differences in religion, language and culture.
At ACA, we believe that the most powerful force in the promotion of understanding different cultures is exposure to those cultures. The world becomes a smaller, friendlier place when we learn that all people ? regardless of how they look or speak, or their religious affiliation ? desire the same basic qualities of life. Everyone wants to earn a living, care for their loved ones and cherish the same basic things that we do ? their families, their homes and their religion. And most of us love our homelands, even those places that do not enjoy the same freedoms that Americans do.
Different does not mean better or worse
it only means different.
Why Community Corrections Matters
By Donald G. Evans
October 2004, Corrections Today
In this issue of
October Corrections Today, a number of community-based programs are highlighted. It would be worthwhile to take a moment to explore the importance of community-based efforts in the provision of community safety services. Community corrections has several important components that sometimes get overlooked or just ignored when community safety is being discussed: the connection to the community and the correctional aspect (enforcement, assistance and treatment) of the work with offenders and victims.
In regard to the community, it is important that we make a distinction between a program and agency being merely situated in the community and being truly community-based. It is not enough to be in the community; it is critical to work with the community. Second, the notion of corrections needs a wider definition than merely a means of sentence administration. Corrections in this context cannot be viewed as solely working with the individual offender, but rather, corrections should also be concerned about correcting injustices, social problems and advocating for improved social environments that foster pro-social behavior in some instances. Community corrections involves both holding the offender accountable for his or her actions and speaking to the responsibility and accountability of communities in preventing crime. In the articles that follow, you will find a broad range of programs that address various approaches to community corrections and that express the importance of having a broad perspective of what is meant by community corrections.
Community corrections is critical to the success of the criminal justice system and it is time that efforts to develop community justice, expand restorative approaches and employ evidence-based programs for the reduction of offending be given the support they require to be effective deliverers of community safety services. There are nine reasons that community corrections matters:
It is a way to protect the public and reduce re-offending. There has been recent emphasis on evidence-based practices that place importance on using programs that have proved to reduce offenders? re-offending behavior, which have been implemented in a number of jurisdictions. These programs suggest that rehabilitative efforts, if grounded in the ?what works? research, are making a difference.
It is a way to provide support to victims of crime. More attention is being paid to the needs of victims for support and assistance by community corrections agencies. It is important that this work expand and that community corrections administrators hear the victims? voices and respond.
It is a way to work together to promote effective use of sanctions and resources. The work of reducing re-offending requires collaborative and cooperative action between and among the various criminal justice agencies, as well as the private and voluntary sectors. Together, the pooled resources ? both intellectual and economic capital ? can make a significant difference. Partnerships between various agencies have already demonstrated the importance of cooperation and sharing resources and information.
It is a way to build public confidence in the justice system. Increasing public confidence is critical if the legitimacy of the justice system is to be maintained. The public and victims of crime need to see that someone is held accountable for criminal actions. However, public polling has shown that how the criminal justice system responds to criminal actions varies widely. This public mood expresses itself in advocating for punitive responses and also in wanting offenders to be rehabilitated. This raises questions about what is wanted from the criminal justice system and behooves those working in the system to listen carefully and respond appropriately.
It is a way to promote innovative and flexible programs to manage offenders. There is a need to develop and test interventions aimed at curbing crime and reducing re-offending; this is what serious community safety efforts demand. Community corrections and the voluntary, private and public sectors have made major contributions to ensuring an appropriate use of community sanctions and they have been at the forefront of efforts to use evidence-based practices in the provision of programs aimed at reducing re-offending.
It is a way to provide post-custody supervision and support. With more than 600,000 offenders a year being released from correctional facilities, it is clear that the re-entry challenge posed can only be met by a committed approach to community corrections. There is a storehouse of talent, skill and knowledge in working with and managing offenders in the community in the community corrections sector. There is little need to reinvent the wheel, but there is a need to harness the energies and resources of this sector and mobilize community corrections professionals to meet the challenge of offender transition to the community.
It is a way not only to bring offenders to justice but to assist them in breaking the cycle of offending. Effective community corrections programs and interventions are concerned with reducing noncompliance, not merely reporting noncompliance of supervision. Breaking the cycle of offending means that offenders can become productive, contributing members of the community.
It is a way to rethink how justice is delivered in communities. There have been significant innovations in the delivery of justice services in the community. Specialized courts dealing with drugs, domestic violence and youths have emerged. Restorative justice programs have been initiated in a number of jurisdictions. Probation and police partnerships have greatly enhanced the supervision of high-risk offenders. Programs for victims and witnesses have been improved. A renewed effort to work with the families and children of offenders is helping the next generation to break the cycle of crime.
It is a way to engage the community and build community capacity. Community corrections works to overcome barriers to inclusion. Advocating for housing, employment and
education for offenders so that they will have a stake in conformity is an important aspect of the work of community corrections. An effort to improve the lives of victims and offenders so that they can see changes in their lives is a worthy objective of working with communities.
These nine points underscore the fact that community corrections matters and is a major contributor to community safety and to the enhancement of community life. However, much more still needs to be done. A greater effort of transforming policy into practice; exploring how courts, police and community corrections can ensure the effective use of community sanctions; and developing and delivering key services to offenders and their families as they return to the community are major challenges facing community corrections. As the articles in this issue demonstrate, community corrections is up to the challenge.
Addressing the Challanges of the Correctional Work Force
By Charles J. Kehoe
August 2004, Corrections Today
It has been 35 years since the last comprehensive report was written on the state of the correctional workforce. In 1969, the findings of the Joint Commission on Correctional Manpower and Training were released in several reports that profiled the correctional workforce and described how the public views corrections as a profession.
In many respects, the report was a pioneering effort that identified, for corrections professionals and the public, the critical human resource needs of correctional facilities and programs, including, but not limited to, a better public image, better staff development and training, and the need for higher education to develop programs and courses that would appeal to people working in corrections.
As the number of people incarcerated in detention and correctional facilities increased in the 1980s and 1990s, so did the number of correctional employees. Corrections was seen as a ?growth industry? and by the mid-1990s, many local elected officials lobbied to have their communities selected as the site for the next prison.
By the close of the 20th century, some states were reporting unemployment rates below 3 percent, but some workforce experts and futurists were sounding an alarm of a pending crisis in the U.S. workforce. Critical shortages were beginning to be seen on the ?radar screen? in nursing, construction trades, information management and teaching. The baby boomer generation was beginning to retire and the number of workers with some college education began leveling off. The stage had been set for a critical shortage of skilled workers in numerous occupations in this country.
In 2000, the National Institute of Corrections published the study Recruitment, Hiring and Retention: Current Practices in U.S. Jails, which examined 17 small, medium and large jails. This report described the promising practices of selected adult detention centers, which addressed recruitment materials, screening tests, policies and helpful Web sites. While the report focused on jails, the lessons learned could be easily applied to other branches of corrections.
When the new millennium came, the economy began to cool down, and the workforce crisis slowed. A further downturn in the economy, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, tended to move the workforce issue to the back burner. However, the trends that drive the workforce could not be reversed. In addition, the war on terrorism brought about a significant increase in the number of security jobs in the country. Law enforcement, airport security and emergency response jobs were being created in large numbers. Public safety agencies were drawing from the same workforce pool that corrections used. Fewer qualified, skilled workers and a greater demand for people who wanted to work in public safety was quickly becoming a critical problem for corrections.
In January 2003, the American Correctional Association announced that it had received a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to address the workforce challenge. The project, Building a Strategic Plan for the Correctional Workforce in the 21st Century, provides funding to ACA to assess the correctional workforce challenges across the United States, identify promising practices and develop strategies that federal, state and local correctional agencies can use to strengthen their recruitment approaches, reduce turnover and retain qualified correctional staff. ACA has retained three internationally known experts in the workforce and strategic planning fields to assist in this project: Richard Judy and Jane Lommel, chairman and president, respectively, of Workforce Associates Inc., and Edward Barlow Jr., president of Creating the Future Inc.
The project is on schedule and expected to be completed by the 134th Congress of Correction in Chicago. It has found that among the greatest challenges ahead for correctional facilities are turnover rates higher than other industries and recruiting practices that target a shrinking labor pool.
The project has identified several innovative approaches that are being used by a number of correctional agencies. Because of this project, these techniques are now being shared across the country. In addition, ACA has appointed a Human Resources Committee for directors and managers of human resources in correctional agencies to serve as a clearinghouse and think tank to generate additional ideas. In addition, a quarterly electronic newsletter dedicated to human resource issues is being published and distributed by ACA to human resources professionals in corrections.
Sixteen workshops have been held at ACA?s conferences since January 2003, and additional workshops have been presented at state chapter conferences. A human resources track is scheduled for the 134th Congress of Correction as well.
In the planning stage is a Web page on the ACA Web site, that will provide real time information on promising practices and challenges ahead for the correctional workforce. A workforce project steering committee is providing oversight for this project. The steering committee represents special interest groups and organizations, including organized labor, higher education, ACA affiliates, minority associations and others.
Last, but not least, this edition of Corrections Today is dedicated to the correctional workforce. It reflects the best thinking on the challenges ahead for recruiting, hiring and retaining a qualified correctional workforce, and illustrates the approaches that many agencies are using to address the coming workforce shortage.
Corrections cannot reverse the trends that are being driven by changing demographics, but with the help of this project, corrections can be better prepared. ACA is the best organization to develop a strategic plan for the correctional workforce because its scope touches on all the correctional branches. This pro-active approach by ACA hopefully will prevent problems for correctional agencies in the months and years ahead as they recruit highly qualified correctional workers.
Preparating: The Most Critical Strategy for Managing Terrorist Inmates
Allan Turner, D.P.A.
Professor, George Mason University
July 2004, Corrections Today
Almost three years have passed since the horrific attack that resulted in the murder of nearly 3,000 of our fellow Americans at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field. Today, the United States is locked in a life-and-death struggle with terrorism both at home and abroad.
On May 1, 2004, The Washington Post reported that for the first time, the number of secret surveillance warrants issued in federal terrorism and espionage cases last year exceeded the total number of wiretaps approved in criminal cases nationwide. Also, a brief LexisNexis search for news articles related to the arrest and/or convictions of terrorists in the United States presents sobering results. The articles document arrests and/or convictions of terrorists or those with terrorist connections in numerous states, and without a doubt, a more detailed search would reveal many more occurrences in additional states. It is reassuring that our intelligence and law enforcement organizations are efficiently identifying, investigating and taking into custody terrorists throughout the country. However, it is also of great concern that no one knows how many terrorists are currently in the United States or how many continue to cross our unprotected borders. Regardless of the uncertainty of the numbers, we in corrections can be certain of three things. First, these terrorists will eventually end up in correctional facilities throughout the country serving long periods of incarceration. In addition, they will make every effort to continue terrorist activities. And finally, they will pose a serious threat to the safety, security and good order of correctional facilities.
The recent hearings of the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks highlighted the lack of preparedness of this country?s intelligence and law enforcement organizations to cope with terrorism. Now, many corrections experts are voicing concern that correctional agencies are not prepared to manage terrorist inmates. Of particular concern is the threat that correctional staff and facilities will become targets. This is especially true if the facility is a national symbol, such as the Federal Bureau of Prisons administrative maximum-security penitentiary in Florence, Colo., or a similar high-profile facility.
Concern about correctional strategies to manage terrorists is not new. The July 1988 issue of Corrections Today contained a very insightful article, ?Terrorists in Prison Security Concerns and Management Strategies,? which chronicled a visit by National Institute of Corrections staff to West Germany in an effort to acquire information about managing terrorists. The article offered several recommendations but concluded, ?As always, the most important management strategy we can employ is to be prepared.?
In order to adequately prepare, correctional agencies must press for better and more sophisticated equipment and specialized training. Intelligence is the key to prevention, and improvements in the sharing of information and intelligence concerning terrorist activities is essential. We must know if a threat exists against staff or an institution.
No federal, state or local correctional organization can prepare alone. This is especially true in regards to security technology. Correctional agencies must work together to use whatever money is available to focus on the development of technologies to defend against terrorism. Priority must be given to security technologies to improve intelligence gathering and dissemination, monitoring and surveillance, communications and management of weapons of mass destruction. Granted, there are a number of other pressing needs for security technology, but if they do not contribute directly to defending against terrorism, they should be put aside.
As we struggle in the post-9/11 environment, there are two special areas of immediate concern regarding security technology and correctional readiness. Corrections is in desperate need of a resource for systematically identifying, testing and evaluating security technologies. Such a resource would include a repository for information from testing and evaluation performed elsewhere in federal and state government, and industry. Without a method to evaluate technologies for their applicability to prisons or jails, the result is a nonuniform and costly application of technology. It is time to get tough with vendors. There simply has not been enough accountability demanded of vendors marketing technology to corrections. There are too many instances during which a correctional organization has expended valuable resources on a technology that later proved unable to meet requirements or simply did not work as advertised. Obviously, there is truth to the concept of ?buyer beware.? It is the responsibility of any correctional agency to develop accurate requirements and make every effort to obtain technology that meets those requirements. However, vendors must be put on notice that if they willingly misrepresent the capability of their product, they will be subject to repercussions. More organizations like the Northeast Technology Product and Assessment Committee should be formed by correctional organizations to provide a forum for the exchange of information about vendors of security technologies and their products. Vendors that consistently produce poor products and services should be identified and excluded from the corrections market.
Corrections in the United States is a massive function consisting of nearly 5,000 facilities and employing thousands of people. It presents complex jurisdictional, political, organizational and operational issues. Because of this, it is easy to fall into a sense of complacency by rationalizing that ?terrorism does not really affect me.? The fact is that the war on terrorism, like the war on drugs, affects every correctional facility in this country and it is going to be with us for a long time. Recognizing that fact and preparing in every possible way is critical to correctional staff safety and the security of every correctional facility in this country. Certainly in corrections, we do not have the resources to defend against everything. But we can set priorities and we can ensure a level of preparation for every prison and jail in this country.