5 biggest influences on corrections in the 2010s
Read what the C1 team and our readership viewed as having the most significant impact on the profession in the last decade
By CorrectionsOne Staff
As the decade ends, there is a lot to reflect on in the corrections profession. While every organization is impacted in different ways, there are some commonalities in what has affected the profession in the past 10 years.
Here are five of the influences the CorrectionsOne team and our readership viewed as having the greatest impact during the 2010s.
1. Correctional officer mental illness
Correctional officers deal with a variety of stressors and traumas while on the job. CorrectionsOne members wrote that they have noticed a lack of support for correctional officers when dealing with the mental health challenges often encountered while on the job.
“We need to remove the stigma of job-related mental health issues,” wrote Pamela Earp. “Better and sooner aid available to ALL staff. No more just asking staff after incidents if they want to talk to someone.”
Anthony M. Brinton agreed: “And when they provide someone to talk to....make sure that they have at least a little knowledge in corrections and understanding of how things work. Worst experience ever was trying to explain a traumatic experience to someone who had no idea really of what we were talking about.”
2. Untrained leadership
Members across the country raised concerns about correctional leadership. Some wrote they have seen supervisors taking on positions for which they were not trained, while others expressed concern about the disconnect they’ve seen between COs and their supervisors.
“There has been a huge turnover at the top as executives and admins retire and there aren’t enough experienced and skilled individuals to take their place,” wrote Christopher Hanson. “I’m seeing more and more supervisory positions filled with someone who ‘raised their hand,’ just because there wasn’t anyone else. The result has been departments and facilities slowly falling apart and it is mostly due to a lack of experience and mature leaders.”
“Management and correctional officers need to work together,” Craig Leslie added. “Officers need to know they and their work are appreciated. Both sides need to listen to each other. Respect is earned, not given.”
3. Video and body scanning technology
Technological advancements designed to keep officers safe have been on the rise in the past decade. CorrectionsOne member Justin Holbrooks wrote that video visitation provides a wide variety of benefits that promote safety, security and efficiency.
“It increased facility security and officer safety by eliminating a lot of inmate movement,” he wrote. “It has played a role in the reduction of contraband by removing a way for it to be introduced. It has connected inmates with family that lives further away. It has helped investigators do their job by being recorded for future review. It has saved officers time by having visitors pre-register online. It has allowed live monitoring to gain intelligence in real-time.”
Members pointed to body scanners as another major technological influence in the past decade. Scanners are a deterrent for contraband smugglers and have been used to combat the opioid epidemic inside correctional facilities.
That’s not to say technological advancements can fully replace their more analog counterparts. Ransomware attacks and power outages can cripple automated systems, and members noticed that, even during a decade of change, the old ways of doing business are sometimes the best.
“When our computer pads went down, we went back to keys,” Mando Espi wrote. “Keys are the greatest.”
4. Resistance to change
As the profession changes, so too must COs and management adjust. That’s something CorrectionsOne members wrote their departments often struggle with.
“I think the toughest challenge in corrections is the ever-evolving world mixed with the ‘that's the way we've always done it’ attitude,” Kenneth Weber wrote. “Just like a new breed of criminals brings new laws, we need to adapt as corrections officers as well.”
“I think one of the problems is changing what works and ignoring what fails or creating policy after policy to force a failed policy to work,” Jeremy Capps added.
5. Internal and external perceptions
Whether it’s a young CO lacking respect for their role or false public perception after an incident, CorrectionsOne members pointed out how a perception shift of the profession has had a major impact.
“Government officials are creating a hostile work environment for all aspects of law enforcement,” wrote CorrectionsOne member Pete Rock. “When they started portraying criminals as victims, violence against staff erupted.”
“The younger generation has a different mindset and a lack of respect for our profession,” added Tom Cuozzi.
With a new decade comes new challenges that will need to be handled along with the existing set already facing corrections officers. CorrectionsOne will strive to continue delivering the education and training COs need to keep up with the changing times and the ever-evolving corrections profession.