By Blake Hamilton, esq
What is more important than staff morale? Probably safety, security, custody, care, health and welfare; however, doesn’t morale coincide with each and every one of these critical issues when running a constitutionally sound Detention Center? The question of morale in corrections is a difficult subject in any facility. On a great day, we may get a C+ for morale, so boosting morale or “managing” morale is a daunting task. We must balance employee morale and sometimes inmate morale with the other important everyday tasks of running the jail.
Here are some common morale boosters that can assist with appreciating our folks:
- Employee, Deputy, or CO of the month – Budget a certain amount (i.e. $25,$50) for a gift card each month to show appreciation for excellent performance during the month. Selected employees could also get a nice certificate already framed to further demonstrate the gratitude of the command staff.
- Letters of Appreciation – Warden/Jail Administrator could simply write a letter of appreciation on Agency letterhead to anyone who finds contraband during a strip search or cell search.
- Pizza delivery – Once a quarter, you could order pizza for the staff,in appreciation of all the hard work everyone does in the facility.
- Steak dinners – Twice a year, the food service vendor could prepare steak dinners for Correctional Officer Appreciation Week and once during the winter holiday,just to say “great job and thanks for what you do”.
- Leadership breakfasts – Once a month, the food service vendor could cook breakfast for Sergeants and above so the leadership team could discuss hot topics of the month.
- Pancake breakfasts for staff – Once a quarter, the administration could get together with electric griddles and cook pancakes for the staff. The smell of pancakes and bacon only says you truly are grateful for all the hard work.
- Adopt-a-Highway – Staff could sign up for Adopt-a-Highway to display agency spirit de corps and at the same time be giving back to the community.
- Habitat for Humanity – The staff also could sign up for a day building houses for the poor. What a great way to show compassion to the homeless in our communities.
- Biggest Loser competition – With all this eating we are doing,we need to coordinate with the local military installation and get some fitness equipment, cheap. The facility medical authority could sponsor a “Biggest Loser” competition for the staff to see who can lose the most weight during a period of time. Medical folks could provide the prize, whatever it maybe.
Detention Operations can be one of the most stressful jobs one could ever do, so staff morale is critically important.
The number one factor in improving your facility, believe or not, is lighting. If your facility lighting is not LED, it’s probably too dim and therefore, dark and depressing. If you can afford it, upgrade to the highest output in LED you can get. The difference you will notice will be night and day. LED lighting brightens up the area, changes the mood, and promotes cleanliness.
One of the best ways to supervise your folks and ensure compliance with conducting security checks is purchasing the Guardian Pipe system. This system ensures all inmate checks are conducted.
We separate enemies by assigning them different housing units or even in extreme cases, we assign them different recreation groups within the housing unit. Our facility also “farms out” enemy inmates in rare occasions.