Detention facilities have always been faced with the daunting task of managing the emotional as well as the physical behaviors of inmates in a restrictive environment. For employees of these institutions,the task of navigating both behaviors is a true test of their own social,emotional,and communication skills. Add to this the day-to-day administrative demands of the job,the scrutiny of others,and the stigma associated with working in a correctional environment,and the daily stress can be overwhelming.
Servant leadership is a leadership model meant to replace typical command and control models of leadership,common in law enforcement,to be more focused on the needs of others. In the detention/corrections setting,others can mean many things – community,staff,inmates,board of commissioners,taxpayers etc. In our role as professional detention and corrections officers we serve all of those entities. To really understand why it’s important to “serve” others you must first take a look at what being a good steward means.
Death and Subsequent Litigation
In-custody deaths in jails are unfortunate,but occur for a wide variety of reasons – many outside the control of jail officials. Among the most common causes are:
A. Accidents (e.g.,slip and fall,work-crew accidents);
B. Health issues (e.g.,heart attacks,stokes,seizures,AIDS);
C. Prisoner-on-prisoner violence;
D. Use of force to control prisoners; and
E. Self-harm (e.g.,suicide,self-mutilation,autoerotic asphyxiation)
One of the most important aspects of classification and the subsequent housing of individuals being booked into your facilities is the ability to identify who is a security threat to your facility,inmates and staff. Street and prison gang members pose the greatest risk to the safe and secure operation of your facility if not classified correctly. One the most important indicators of gang membership or association other than tattoos is the interview.
Until the late 1970s, it was a foregone conclusion that jail officers could strip search all prisoners to further the security of the jail and the safety of staff and prisoners. Then in 1977, a federal District Court in New York ruled that visual body-cavity searches of prisoners in a federal pretrial detention facility were unconstitutional “absent probable cause to believe that the inmate is concealing contraband.”(1) Although the fact seems to have been lost on judges who ruled in later cases that have restricted strip searches of arrestees at booking, the district court actually “upheld the strip search procedure but prohibited [only] the body cavity searches, absent probable cause . . . .”
Part I: The Foundation for an Effective Discipline System
Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a series discussing prisoner discipline. Part I,below,will provide hearing officers and other corrections officials with an overview of prisoner discipline and the basic principles for establishing the foundation for an effective and constitutional system for administering prisoner discipline.