How to use inmate habits to your advantage

Inmates get involved in many learned habits in a correctional setting – here’s how COs can use those habits to their advantage


I’ve noticed throughout the years that inmates generally walk in a counterclockwise circle when in the yard and in their dayrooms. One day I commented on this phenomenon when I took a group of inmates to the yard. I started talking about habits and how hard they are to break. I challenged the group to walk the yard clockwise. They laughed and ignored the challenge, except for one older inmate. He walked against the stream for two rounds. You would think the guy was juggling alligators. Other inmates looked at him as if he had joined the circus. The brave man quickly returned to his more comfortable counterclockwise walk. He commented that it was hard for him to be like a salmon.

Learned habits in corrections

Inmates get involved in many learned habits in a correctional setting. Some are as harmless as the direction they walk in the yard, while others can cause disruption, harm or extra costs to a correctional facility.

A majority of bad inmate habits and behavior are the result of poor control measures by staff. While corrections staff can use some inmate habits to the benefit of the facility, when bad habits become the new norm, it takes a coordinated approach to changing them.

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