ACA’s 2004 Winter Conference Recap
Greetings from New Orleans
If you were unable to join us in “The Big Easy” for the American Correctional Association’s 2004 Winter Conference here’s a glimpse of few of the conference activities that took place.
Mfume Urges a Partnership Between ACA and the NAACP
Kweisi Mfume, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, gave the keynote
address during the Opening Session on Monday morning, in which he emphasized the need for society to work more pro-actively to prevent youths and young adults from ending up in the correctional system, as well as a partnership between his association and the American Correctional Association.
Throughout his term as head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mfume has sought to instill the importance of working with at-risk youths and young adults on the front end in an effort to avoid having corrections deal with the difficulty of managing them after they are sentenced to prison. “We try to find a way to reach those who are just a skip away from reaching you because then it is harder, much harder, for you to deal with all the issues ... that you deal with on the inside because we have not properly dealt with all the issues that we can on the outside,” Mfume said.
Impressed by the work and commitment that correctional employees do, Mfume illustrated the significance of having such a large group of advocates working toward improving the correctional system. “I am particularly heartened by the fact that those of you whose job and profession it is to keep people in the institution are so very much concerned as you are about trying to find ways and solutions to keep people out. That is significant,” Mfume said. “I think in the long term, conferences like this will talk about what this association did and what society did to reduce one of the largest prison populations in the world.”
Mfume compared the visions and work of the NAACP and the ACA, stressing the fact that both have similar missions and face the same setbacks. “We deal with limited resources, like you do. Our association, like yours, in many instances sometimes becomes the lone voice in the wind,” he said. Nonetheless, the NAACP is using its limited resources to concentrate and contribute to where it believes it can make the biggest difference, Mfume explained. “We, of the association that I am a part of, are working very hard to deal with something on the front end that we think is important. ... For us, it is the 16 to 25 year old group that continues to contribute to the highest recidivism rate in our nation.” Through the NAACP’s efforts to teach this group the value of an education, the importance of a strong family and values, and the significance of being involved in the community, Mfume said that they will be less likely to become imprisoned and instead become valued citizens. “When we do that, we just don’t in the long term reduce the rates of prisoners in our institutions ... we enhance public safety,” he said.
He went on to explain that it is also up to the individuals themselves to make an effort to care about the route their lives will take to become involved so that others too will show a continued interest in their livelihood. Otherwise, the system will continue to work against them, Mfume said. “People who don’t vote and who don’t participate and who don’t care once they become young adults really have no credit with the people who are elected and the people who govern. Therefore, they pose no threat — no threat whatsoever — to those who act against their interest.”
In proposing a collaboration between ACA and the NAACP, Mfume said that he believes that both associations can work together toward the common goals of reducing the rates of youths and young adults entering the system and ending the cycle of recidivism. “At the end of the day, our missions do connect. There is a nexus in terms of what we do and who we interact with in communities,” Mfume said. “We’re on the front end, you’re on the back end but still it’s an interaction that we think can be enhanced if we are able to work together.”
In closing, Mfume offered his support of ACA and reiterated the importance of a partnership between the associations. “I pledge to you this morning, our support, our
commitment and our resources for that kind of working relationship in hopes that one day, many, many years from now ... that they will be able to say something began here at this conference that created the kind of energy and the nexus and the synergy between our two organizations that, at the end of the day, not only made society better, but made the system of corrections as we know it in the society better as well.”
Annual Luncheon Keynote Address
Dergham Urges Peace Among Arabs, Americans
Both Americans and Arabs must take responsibility and make changes to ensure that the United States wins the continuing war on terrorism and achieves peace, declared Raghida Dergham, senior diplomatic correspondent for London-based Al Hayat and political analyst, during the Annual Luncheon.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, America has been involved in two unfinished wars — the one in Afghanistan and the one in Iraq, Dergham said. “Unfinished for several reasons, the most obvious of which is that both wars did not get the very men who are still out there threatening us,” she said.
Referring to President Bush’s policy on pre-emption, Dergham said there was a time when the world complained of the isolationist America. Now they are amazed, not always in a good way, at the “interventionist” America — unable to understand or even trust the leadership. “Americans themselves are flabbergasted at how the world has come to hate us and can’t be grateful for getting Osama Bin Laden out of Afghanistan ... and getting Saddam Hussein captured,” she continued. “The notion that Arabs and Muslims have always had a fundamental problem with America and what it stands for is superficial and dead wrong. ... The argument is not about what America is, but about what America does.” Most Arabs do not hate Americans; they do, however, have issues with American foreign policy, which Dergham said they see as unfair toward the Arab world and inconsistently applied. And Arabs, she added, must understand that Americans do not understand them, and that although they act in the world, they are not necessarily worldly.
Americans must work to learn about the impact of their foreign policy. “They can no longer afford to remain indifferent,” she said. She added that they should engage Arabs and Muslims as committed partners in the war against terrorism, which would require adjusting the foreign policy, adopting a new approach to the silent majority, reforming relationships with governments of that region, adopting a more respectful tone toward Arabs and Muslims, and standing up to extremists with “one standard and equal resolve, whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews.”
On the part of Arabs and Muslims, Dergham said, they must stop exporting blame making America a convenient culprit for their problems when it is just as much internal. For Arabs and Muslims to take hold of their destiny, she said, three things must take place: a departure from the conspiracy theory that paints them as a perpetual victim, which is a substitute for looking within; an admission by the silent majority that their inaction creates a void filled by the agenda of the active extremist minority; and an admission by governments that their denial of civil liberties and denial of democratic processes helped produce such terror and instability and requires immediate action.
A major source of frustration for Arabs and Muslims, Dergham said, is that they do not understand America’s “de facto” support of Israel and believe that America gave Israel the right to do whatever it wishes, including the demolition of Palestinian homes. “They do feel hated and despised,” she said. “They question why, when it comes to Arabs and Muslims, America departs from the fairness that otherwise characterizes that persona.” She added that they feel that America does not gives them a voice.
At the level of government, many Arab countries have realized that in order to combat terrorism, there needs to be a fundamental reform at all levels, even in Arab societies that do not produce terrorism, in eradicating the roots of the causes of depression that have been leading to this “culture of destruction.” Their concerns are not limited to that of the Palestinian and Iraqi issues; they have economic and social issues and they are also victims of Sept. 11 and terrorism committed in their name.
With the war in Iraq and the fall of Hussein, the illusion of the brutal, powerful dictatorship’s invincibility was shattered; fear has been broken, change is possible, Dergham said. “Arabs are sick and tired of the status quo, of living under a regime.” Additionally, there are signs, she said that the Arab region “may be about to awaken from the deep sleep during which it has shunned reality.” If it occurs and is lasting, it provides a true chance for Arabs and Americans to work together to beat terrorism.
The Bush administration now has the opportunity to build more productive connections to the Arab world, Dergham said. He should avoid any missteps that would squander a solid relationship, not with Arab rulers, but the next generation of ordinary Arabs and Muslims. She added that the Bush administration must nurture a relationship with people eager for change, but who are suspicious of American motives. However, if there is continued occupation in Iraq, the perception that the Iraq war was waged for the benefit of American businesses could do great harm. Also, if Iraq is simply a launching pad to change the region, dangers will persist and opportunities will be lost, she said. America should be pursuing peace-making in the region and stay the course.
“We do not need the reputation of a bully,” she said. “We have the world’s ears and eyes, we can easily win the world’s hearts and minds if we adjust our policies.”
Breakfast Keynote Address
Guantanamo Bay Mission Described During Closing Breakfast
During the Closing Breakfast, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller described to conference attendees the vital role the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, plays in the global war on terror.
The mission of the task force, which includes about 2,200 military personnel and 500 civilians, is to detain enemy combatants and gather intelligence to help the United States and its allies fight terrorism, explained Miller, who is the commanding general of the JTF. Approximately 75 percent of the military personnel are from the Army and two-thirds come from the reserve component. The “heartbeat” of the detention mission are the military police officers with 750 troops from both the active and reserve components. Of the reserve unit, 20 percent of them come from correctional agencies, sheriff’s offices and police departments and bring with them their job expertise. “So all of you are helping our JTF go about working. ... The experience that you give them in your organizations help us win,” he told the audience, acknowledging the sacrifice being made by employers, co-workers and families across the nation.
One particular police department in Rome, Ga., has four of its 11 employees stationed at Guantanamo Bay. “That is commitment,” he said, adding that he receives a letter from the mayor about once a month asking, “How are they doing, and when are they coming home.”
The detention mission, Miller went on to explain, is a subset of the JTF’s ability to gain intelligence. The JTF conducts 250 to 300 interrogations each week to be able to develop the intelligence to help stop terrorists. “We’re winning the global war on terror ... one man at a time. It takes the kind of commitment that these troopers bring to the fight and that you do to support them,” he said. Letters to the troops from their families and those who employ them that recognize what they are doing has “enormous value,” he said.
Camp Delta is comprised of four camps, soon to be five: camps 1, 2, 3 and 4. There are three maximum-security camps that can house about 800 detainees. Currently, there are about 660 enemy combatants being held at Camp Delta. When an enemy combatant first arrives, he is held at Camp 3 — the highest level maximum-security facility. As the detainee cooperates and helps to develop intelligence, he will be moved to Camp 2 and finally to Camp 1 where he will receive additional privileges. At Camp 4, which is medium security, detainees are allowed to live in 10-man bays because they have demonstrated that they are no longer security risks and are cooperating with the intelligence-gathering effort.
More than 80 percent of the enemy combatants at Camp Delta are voluntarily cooperating, according to Miller. The intelligence the JTF has received is both useful and increasing in frequency. In fact, the JTF received three times as much intelligence last month as it did the month before and five times as much as it received in January 2003. “Our military policemen who work there are agents of making this happen,” he said. “They are dedicated folks and they work seven days a week, 24 hours a day. They help enable the intelligence gathering.”
JTF personnel are asked to work 14-hour days, six days a week, explained Miller, because intelligence that has the potential to save American lives cannot be gathered quickly enough. “Everyone understands that the nation is at war and they want to be a part of it,” he said. To illustrate this, Miller recalled an encounter he had with a young reserve. When Miller asked him what he does for a living, he replied that he is a junior at the University of Virginia and hopes to go on to law school. Miller then thanked him for putting his life on hold for a year to serve, to which the young man replied, “Sir, I was thrilled that when the nation was in trouble, they called me.” “Folks, if you don’t think the country is in good hands,” Miller said to the attendees, “the country is in good hands. That’s the kind of people that you are developing who want to come help this nation.”
In its detention mission, the JTF has four- or five-man fire teams that run the cell blocks. They conduct between 400 and 500 cell moves every week to disrupt the informal leadership that develops. Additionally, thanks to the expertise of some reservists, a computer-based intelligence system was created that enables personnel to report to headquarters during different intervals what is going on in each cell block, eliminating the paperwork and freeing up leaders. However, Miller stated, technology is not the answer — staff are key.
The soldiers at Guantanamo Bay are making a difference in this war on terror, asserted Miller. “Trust us, we will work hard. You have given us your most precious gift, your sons and daughters. We’ll do our very best to see that the nation is well served,” he said. “Every night I sleep soundly knowing that America’s very best are out here defending us in Guantanamo Bay.”
Coaching for Success in Corrections
Although mostly found in corporate America workplaces, coaching can benefit correctional staff and their facilities since, in essence, corrections is a business too, maintained Jeanna Gomez, president of Gomez Counseling and Consulting Services in Grants, N.M.
During the workshop “Utilizing Coaching for Success in Corrections,” Gomez said coaching helps staff reach managers’ goals, which not only allows both staff and their managers to shine, but also benefits the organization as a whole. In addition, coaching provides managers the opportunity to connect with a work force made up of different generations with varying attitudes toward work and reward. The knowledge gained from this connection is especially beneficial when it comes to retention during times of lean budgets, Gomez said, because training new staff often costs thousands of dollars.
Unlike training, coaching is an ongoing process that involves setting tasks and meeting goals. The goal is to encourage staff and facilitate change that allows them to be successful. Simply telling staff what to do does not work anymore, Gomez said, especially when dealing with Generation X and O — those born between 1965 and 1979, and those born from 1980 on, respectively. These men and women thrive on challenge, they are more technological than past generations, they are cynical and they guard their leisure time. Most important, Gomez said, “they want to know what is in it for them.”
Unlike a yearly performance review, coaching requires setting goals and following up with employees before the next annual review to see that they have met their goals. Although time-consuming, acknowledged Gomez, the extra effort is worth it in the end when goals are being met and retention numbers are increasing. Checking in with staff periodically lets them, as well as the organization, know that administrators care and allows them to acknowledge staff accomplishments.
Coaching boosts creativity, productivity, loyalty and the overall well-being of staff, and is key to managing multiple priorities. It is an action-oriented process that, in addition to goal setting, focuses on problem-solving by coming up with solutions that benefit both parties, planning for the future and following up on a consistent basis. It also allows a holistic view of an employee and promotes the idea of taking care of someone. Although managers are not expected to counsel their staff, coaching helps managers recognize when an employee may require counseling and can refer them to an employee assistance program.
Administrators set the tone, Gomez said. If they are motivated, their staff will be motivated. By the same token, if they are negative, staff will be negative. Managers should expect the best, be flexible in learning new styles of providing guidance, encourage each staff member to achieve his or her personal best, reward the smallest accomplishment and remember that everyone is different, Gomez said.
To be a correctional coach, Gomez said that managers must have a sincere interest in the success of their employees and, ultimately, their own success. They also should be a designer (create the mission and the goals), a guide to navigate employees, a mentor, a partner in their success, a challenger and a motivator.
The manager’s primary function as a coach is to be an active listener and ask open-ended questions. Along those lines, Gomez said managers should limit the war stories, which often waste time and do not lead to a solution to the current issue, and give staff a voice. Also, managers should provide structure, support and encouragement, monitor and validate progress, and celebrate success.
After establishing a mission or vision as a manager, he or she should verbalize it and share it with staff; observe staff performance; determine if the behavior is compatible with the vision; identify, define and share concerns about the behavior; allow staff to self-assess the behavior; come to an agreement; brainstorm solutions together; set well-defined goals for changing the behavior; create an action plan; set priorities and mini-goals; monitor progress and provide feedback.
Although there may be obstacles in implementing the coaching process in a particular correctional facility, such as negative attitudes, limited time and the feeling that change is difficult, Gomez maintains the extra effort will be well worth it in the long run for the employee, manager and organization.
Managing Public Information in Correctional Agencies
When bad events happen in correctional facilities, such as riots or escapes, it is important for administrators and the public information office to know how to deal with the media, which will be eager to report all angles of the occurrence. In the workshop “Managing Public Information in Correctional Agencies,” Julie Campbell, a former public information officer for the New Jersey Department of Correction, explained ways that an agency can work better with the media.
The key to working with the media is to have a good emergency plan in place, Campbell explained. The public’s perception of corrections is greatly influenced by the media’s portrayal of an event, making it important for stories involving corrections to be handled appropriately. Campbell said that a plan is necessary because “the damage caused by improperly dealing with the press in an emergency situation or disaster situation can be more costly than the physical damage to the buildings and equipment.”
A well-defined, effectively implemented agency public relations plan can influence how corrections is perceived, enhance the understanding of corrections initiatives and broaden support for the corrections agenda, Campbell explained. A good emergency plan consists of having a designated location for press conferences, arranging for a spokesperson to give regular briefings to the media, and having photos/layouts and statistics of the facility to hand out. In addition, Campbell said, the person speaking with the media should be organized and well-informed of the situation that has occurred. Campbell warned that agencies that avoid answering reporters’ questions and do not provide the facts surrounding the event can receive worse coverage by the media than if all the known information is accurately released to the public. This is because it seems as if the facility has something to hide. “It takes a lot longer to repair your reputation, your credibility with the press, with the world, with the community” in such a situation, Campbell said.
At the same time, when positive events occur within a correctional facility, news releases and good rapport with reporters help to let the community know the good things that go on inside prison walls. “It’s important to let the press know about these things so that they can learn a little bit more about the good so that when the bad things happen, they can go a little bit easy on you,” Campbell said. “If people don’t know about it, it almost didn’t happen.” Inmate work programs benefiting the community, innovative programs, such as drug treatment and recycling, and milestones, such as the dedication of a new building, are all examples of news that should be shared with the media so that it is not only after negative events occur that a facility receives media attention, Campbell advised.
In addition, Campbell provided what she considers “the rules of the game.” These tips include to avoid saying “no comment,” and instead, explain why the matter cannot be discussed at the time; to not stray from the facts; to never guarantee anything, such as a certain piece of information by a specific time; to never give a personal opinion; and to emphasize the agency’s mission.
By being prepared for the worse, remaining organized and being willing to be involved with the media, a bad situation can be in and out of the news in one or two days, which is a good thing when it comes to negative press, Campbell said. “It’s vital that you be prepared to deal with the news media in emergency situations because right when you think they’re not going to happen, they happen.”
Promoting Collaboration Between Corrections and Public Health
Developing a partnership between corrections and public health, which would ease the increasing health care burden on corrections, as well as help provide continuity of care to offenders and positively impact the nation’s health, was the focus of the American Correctional Association’s live Webcast, “Correctional Health Care Solutions Through Partnerships.”
The five speakers, including Vice Adm. Richard Carmona, U.S. surgeon general, who issued a call to action on correctional health care, discussed the current health care trends in jails and prisons nationwide and what a strong partnership between corrections and public health could accomplish.
“There needs to be a bonding of our public health and our public safety entities. One without the other just won’t work,” said moderator Reginald Wilkinson, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, during his introductory remarks. “Collaboration must take place. I have often been dismayed that corrections agencies are taking on more than their share of the burden as it relates to health care, in addition to more than our share of the blame.”
In addition to Carmona, the panelists included Dr. Frederick R. Maue, chief of clinical services for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; Sheriff Jacquelyn H. Barrett of Fulton County (Atlanta) Ga.; Glenn S. Goord, commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services; and Dr. Edward Thompson, deputy director for public health services for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many offenders arrive at prisons across the country already sick due to their low socioeconomic situation, their inadequate health care at home and their engaging in high-risk behaviors, said Maue. In fact, in the Pennsylvania system, an inmate’s health age is estimated to be 10 years more than his or her chronological age. However, being that they are a captive audience, corrections populations present an opportunity for health care specialists to study them, educate them and prepare them for release into the community, he said.
In Georgia, Barrett is working on partnerships with public health so that scarce resources can be used to achieve the optimum benefits by tracking the incidents, treating the inmates and improving the overall health of the entire community. She said such partnerships can help with the staff and supplies costs required to conduct testing. Also, public health agencies can help locate and notify offenders who have been tested and released before their results came back.
This would be of great benefit to the community given that 90 percent of inmates return to the community that is the origin of their arrest, she said.
Many inmates are dually diagnosed, however, Barrett said, there are few agencies in the community with programs that accept those with a dual diagnosis. “We’re trying to bridge the gap between medical services in the jail and community services,” she said. In addition, Barrett said that federal funding, such as the Ryan White funding for HIV and Medicaid should be available to incarcerated populations. “It is our hope ... that all levels of government share the burden of providing public health care ... help us cover the cost that we are bearing alone,” she said.
Goord agreed, saying that it is imperative that corrections receive support from public health, especially since many offenders are in poor health or contract a disease before they are incarcerated. “It is imperative to remember that this is not a prison problem, nor a problem we created in prison,” he said. “This is a health issue, which was shifted to corrections. The bottom line is that this population is now in our care and custody and, therefore, we are responsible to meet their medical needs. We need adequate staff and funding to provide care inside the walls just as public health agencies need adequate funding to provide care on the outside.”
As an example of what can be accomplished through partnerships, Goord said that since his agency and the New York Department of Health began working together to reduce the tuberculosis rate, the numbers have decreased from 225 per 100,000 10 years ago to 28 per 100,000 in 2002. “I’m sure this success would not have been achieved without this collaboration,” he said. “Anything that can be done to prevent disease and to improve the health of those who are weak will benefit society.”
Designing public health programs that can function in correctional settings may be the most efficient way for public health to approach disease control, said Goord, because inmates are at a high risk for health problems, they have time to focus on doing something about these problems, and there are more opportunities for preventive programs and health education while in the correctional setting. Additionally, offenders’ health records should travel with them into incarceration and eventually into the community. “Correctional health is really public health ... public health interests and funding should not stop at the prison doors.”
Having worked in law enforcement and corrections, Carmona said he understands the health care issues facing corrections today. He also experienced the antagonism that in years past existed between corrections and its mission and health care and its mission. Medical care had almost been marginalized, but today, Carmona said, there is an understanding that the two are inseparable.
However, more than providing medical care, Carmona said corrections and health care professionals must teach offenders to take better care of themselves and practice healthy behaviors so that they are as healthy as possible when they return to their communities, whether after one night or 20 years.
President George Bush, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson and Carmona feel that prevention and eliminating health disparities, as seen in correctional facilities, are important to the United States and equally important to correctional health. Jails and prisons have become the de facto treatment site of last resort, he said but many jails and prisons have no treatment system for people with substance abuse or mental disorders. “It is clear that prevention is far cheaper than treatment; however, we haven’t figured out how to make that sale,” he said. “The fact is, in our country, we are a treatment-oriented society. ... We are now recognizing that prevention must be pre-eminent in all we do.”
The current administration, Carmona said, has made some great strides. Spending in the U.S. government on domestic HIV/AIDS has increased to more than $16 billion on prevention, care and treatment, which is unprecedented. This administration is also working to close the gap in the community. “By screening and treating inmates for various diseases, we take an important first step of preventing their spread to the large community,” he said. Also, we need to maintain a link between corrections and the community to ensure that inmates receive needed care upon returning to the community. Once inmates return to the community, they are served by community health centers, and an initiative recently enacted by Bush and Thompson funds 1,200 new community health centers during the next five years, which can help ensure inmates continue to receive essential services. Further, the administration is working to help the children of offenders, who are seven times more likely to become incarcerated themselves. Last fall, $9 million in grants were provided to 52 organizations to train adult mentors for these children.
Carmona said he will continue this effort by issuing a call to action on correctional health care, to shine a light on the issues that are for the most part, unfamiliar to the majority of Americans. “Together we can bring hope to some of these seemingly hopeless situations,” he said.
Managing the Effect of Executions on Staff
For correctional staff involved with carrying out an inmate’s death sentence, the process can cause a great deal of trauma in the days both before and after the execution. In such situations, correctional administrators must make sure that they have the proper approach in place — one that lessens the effect that executions may have on staff.
In the workshop “Managing the Effect of Executions on Staff,” corrections personnel from Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia provided the protocol that their respective states follow in the days before and after a death sentence is carried out. In opening the workshop, moderator Douglas Dretke, division director, Correctional Institutions Division, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, read a quote that stated, “To kill in the name of one’s country is a glorious feat, one rewarded by medals. But to kill in the name of the law, that is a gruesome, horrible function rewarded with ... contempt and loathing.”
One of the most difficult aspects of carrying out an execution, the panel discussed, is the scrutiny from the public and the media in the days leading up to the execution. In many situations, there are demonstrations or letters and phone calls that flood the facility when it is publicized that an inmate will soon be executed. Pamela Baggett, senior warden, Thomas Goree Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, explained the issues that her facility faced prior to the execution of Carla Fay Tucker, the first female inmate to be executed in Texas: “The facility became inundated with daily calls and letters about the offender, many of which directed disparaging remarks toward staff about their role in the execution process. Concerns of the impact on the staff and the administrators, some of whom had managed the offender for more than a decade, began to surface.”
The panel explained the importance of having execution team members understand that carrying out a death sentence is simply part of their responsibility as correctional staff. “We have to teach staff that whatever happens, whatever the public perception or whatever the media’s perception is, is not the perception of those of us that deal with this on a daily basis. This is a duty,” said Ron Ward, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. “That’s part of our duty as correctional employees and state employees.”
Although the duty is strictly voluntary, for those who do choose to be a part of the execution team, there is a large bond that is formed among the members, which helps each cope with the effects of the execution, the panel explained. In Texas for example, team members make sure to check on each other after the execution to ensure that everything is OK, said Capt. Melodye Nelson, who works in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville “Walls” Unit.
Emotional bonds that form by working with inmates in the years leading up to their execution may contribute to the effect the process may have on staff. In an effort to lessen the emotional ties that staff may form with death-sentenced inmates, the panel explained how the responsibility of carrying out the execution is spread out among staff and facilities. For example, in Virginia, the death row unit is separate from the location where the inmates is executed, explained Gene Johnson, director of the Virginia DOC.
In concluding, the panel discussed how facilities should provide the means of helping team members cope with the effects of carrying out a death sentences such as chaplaincy and employee assistance programs. In addition, administrators should ensure that staff remember that although they are participating in something most people may oppose, “Everyone has to understand that we do this ... because we’re carrying out the laws of the state,” said Ward.
Concepts of Control
The type of control employed at various levels from prisons to schools in different parts of the country was the focus of the workshop “Concepts of Control.” The five speakers discussed strategies used within Ohio correctional facilities, a local jail in Virginia, the community in an Indiana county, the U.S. military and the schools in Indiana.
In Ohio, correctional operations reached a major turning point in 1993 when the state experienced the longest riot in U.S. history at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, according to Stephen Huffman, deputy director of the South Region, Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in Columbus. Since that time, there has been a number of changes made to increase control and enhance security and safety at the facilities.
Some of the core principals that guide operations include orientation for inmates, jobs for inmates, unit management, rules infraction board, grievance process for inmates, use-of-force monitoring, eight weeks of staff training and enhanced security procedures.
Re-entry begins at reception in Ohio, during which time staff conduct a medical evaluation of the inmates, and determine their educational and recovery service needs as well as their classification level. An earned-credit program was implemented, whereby inmates can get up to four days per month off their sentences. There are also inmate groups such as the NAACP, Vietnam Vets, the Jaycees, etc. “You don’t want idleness, you want to keep them busy,” Huffman said, adding that the agency is using more and more volunteers for programming. “The more programs you have, the better control of inmates,” he said. In fact, at the Marion Correctional Institution, where the most
programs are available, they have significantly decreased their number of infractions.
Additional changes that have helped control the inmate population include creation of a rules board that is “fair, firm and consistent” and an inmate grievance process. Also, there are no more than 500 offenders in each unit, good security policies and procedures are in place and security threat group activity is closely monitored. Additionally, once inmates are released, there is follow up within the community.
In Arlington County, Va., where the local jail is in an urban setting, classification and security needs must co-exist to be effective, said Maj. Michael Pinson, director of corrections in the Arlington County Detention Facility. The elements he believes help to maintain control include a highly trained and empowered staff, proper building design with easily monitored areas, an objective jail classification, proven technologies and ensuring inmates are held accountable. He added that supervisors should get out of the way and let staff do their thing; in fact, in his facility, staff bid for their posts. There must also be an appropriate staff-to-inmate ratio, and the officer in control must be seen as the leader. In addition, supervisors should ask staff open-ended questions to really discover what is going on in the facility, rather than approaching them with the typical, “How are you doing?”
Pinson said it is also very important that both staff and inmates know that they are safe, or else inmates will arm themselves and form groups for protection. In addition, the antagonism between staff and inmates should be removed; staff should not talk down to inmates, and a good use-of-force continuum should be in place. Further, in his facility, Pinson said all incident reports are categorized and then discussed during roll call.
At the community corrections level, Ralph Watson, executive director of Hamilton County Community Corrections in Noblesville, Ind., said supervision should be coupled with programs to help offenders be successful upon re-entry. Community corrections is somewhat different in Indiana from other states, he explained, because it is delivered at the county rather than the state level. Consequently, the programming differs from county to county, which allows local officials to tailor the services to the local population’s needs. Electronic monitoring is used in some form in all the counties. In Hamilton County, it is used to fill the gaps in the local continuum of sanctions — when additional supervision is needed but not incarceration.
However, Watson stressed that “these programs are only as good as the screening used on them.” Ninety-nine percent of the offenders in his county are screened before they are sentenced to determine if they are appropriate candidates for electronic monitoring and work release.
Also, Watson said, programs are only tools, and that there must be a good human component. To be effective, he believes that people must be working with the offenders. Hamilton County has field coordinators that track the offenders’ whereabouts and case managers who monitor their treatment plans. But just applying supervision does not prevent recidivism. Working with the National Institute of Corrections, Hamilton County redesigned its programs to fall in line with eight core principals that research has shown leads to success, including well-defined goals and professionally trained staff with experience in treatment. While the county had previously focused on care and custody, treatment is now a major focus. Corrections officials monitor offender progress to ensure that the program is a good fit, and they do not mix different levels of offenders. The University of Cincinnati will evaluate the program outcomes as part of Hamilton County’s evaluation process to determine if what they are doing is effective.
In Indiana, officials are working to control the educational environment and prevent juveniles from becoming offenders explained Kelli Witsman, Indiana School Safety Specialist Academy program coordinator. In 1999, the state passed a law to improve school safety, making it the first state to mandate such an effort. As a result, there are school safety specialists or school resource officers in every school. They keep safety plans up to date and participate in training. A training academy has also been developed to help educate school administrators and personnel about what is going on in schools. Topics include drug trends, concealed weapons, Internet safety and gang activity. The same law allows every county to create a safety commission — there are 43 active commissions — with the goal of making recommendations on how to prevent juveniles from becoming offenders. They also look at methods to improve communication among agencies involved with juveniles.
Finally, in the military, corrections specialists work with an offender population that is different from the civilian offender population, which helps with control explained Michael Shannon, deputy branch chief for corrections and internment for the Department of the Army in Arlington, Va. Military offenders have at the very least a GED or high school diploma, have been through military training and understand discipline/control, and speak English, which all works positively toward maintaining control. In addition, the correctional system is small and is a very controlled situation — soldiers guarding soldiers. However, the system has changed recently. Now, as a result of the war on terror and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military, particularly the Army, is focusing more on detainees and enemy prisoners of war.
Day Care for Children Of Correctional Staff
Correctional employees, especially correctional officers, who are parents face the same problems that many parents face when it comes to choosing child care for their children. The key difference with correctional officers, however, is that they do not work the typical 9 to 5, eight-hour day, which often presents problems. In the workshop “Day Care for Children of Correctional Staff,” the speakers discussed the advantages of providing day care for employees and recommendations on how to implement a center at a facility.
Judy Anderson, warden of Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution in Columbia, S.C., and Col. David Parrish, detention department commander of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, Fla., emphasized that the idea of a child care center in their respective agencies was not only to make it convenient for correctional officers and other staff, but to address the high turnover rate that the facilities faced. “This is a partial solution to recruitment and retention problems,” Parrish said. An extended-hour child care service, Parrish explained, would contribute to the retention of qualified correctional staff who would otherwise leave their job because of conflicts resulting from the 12-hour and rotating shifts that correctional officers work.
In researching whether a child care center in a facility would be used, the speakers recommended conducting a survey of the correctional staff to see if they would be interested in taking advantage of an extended-hour child care center. After it is established that there is demand, finding the funding for the endeavor is the next step. Speaking from experience about a child care facility that was implemented in her facility in 1992, Anderson emphasized that “the first lesson is that you’ve got to check your funding sources.” The project in South Carolina lasted only two years because the grant that funded the child care center was not sufficient enough to further run the center. At the same time, the facility dealt with numerous bounced checks from employees paying their tuition, Anderson said. To avoid this issue, Parrish suggested deducting child care expenses from payroll.
Another consideration that must be made is the location of the child care center. Parrish said that although the location of the center being planned for his agency is on jail property, it is not directly on the facility site. For the safety of the children, the center should be placed outside of prison gates.
Both Parrish and Anderson stressed that rather than the correctional administrators overseeing the operation of the day care center, consultants should be hired to take charge of the project. “Know a consultant who knows the child care business,” Anderson advised. This is because they will know all of the state regulations that must be met before putting such an endeavor in operation. For example, Parrish said, his jail will only build the facility and maintain it, while a consultant will be responsible for all other aspects.
A child care center offered by a correctional facility, recognizing the needs of correctional staff, can serve as a means for them to manage both the 12-hour shifts demanded by their jobs and caring for their children, the speakers illustrated. In return, they said, child care programs can help administrators address part of the issue associated with high turnover in their facilities.
Bureau of Justice Statistics
In the workshop titled “The Prevalence of Imprisonment in the U.S.: Recent Findings from the Bureau of Justice Statistics,” presenters Thomas P. Bonczar and Allen J. Beck discussed not only the prevalence of imprisonment, but also the impact of drug crimes on state and federal prison population growth.
Bonczar, a BJS statistician, began the workshop with his findings based on figures at year-end 2001. At that time, he estimates that there were about 5.6 million U.S. adult residents who had ever served time in prison. This number includes both current and former inmates. This amounts to one in 37 U.S. residents, or 2.7 percent of the adult population, Bonczar found. With about 1.3 million inmates in custody in state and federal prisons, Bonczar estimates that there were approximately 4.3 million former inmates still living in the United States at year-end 2001. Given these figures, Bonczar said that the prevalence of imprisonment increased 3.8 million between 1974 and 2001.
Also highlighted by Bonczar was that the rates for first incarceration increased most for younger age groups. “The most obvious thing to notice is that the rates vary tremendously by age,” Bonczar said. Figures show that for those born in 1975, 2.6 percent had been to prison by age 25, which is nearly equal to the percent among people born in 1950 who had been to prison by age 50 (2.7 percent).
Bonczar went on to explain that given the number of people entering prison between 1974 and 2001, 6.6 percent of people born in 2001 will go to prison if current rates of first incarceration remain unchanged. That equates to one in 15 people, Bonczar said.
Beck, chief of corrections statistics for BJS, began his presentation about the impact of drug crimes by estimating that 500,000 drug offenders were in prison and jail in 2002, up from 380,000 in 1995. Drug offenders grew by 30,600 inmates between 1995 and 2001, accounting for 15 percent of the total growth of state inmates, Beck said. However, he noted that the number of drug offenders is increasing as a result of parole violators as opposed to new admissions to the correctional system. While the number of new admissions for drug offenses has remained steady at about 100,000 since 1990, the number of parole violators for drug charges has been on the rise.
Beck also provided the racial breakdown among drug offenders. Although the racial composition of state prisons has been stable for all inmates between 1990 and 2001, for drug offenders, the rate of whites and blacks has increased 3.5 percent each, while the number of Hispanic convicted drug offenders decreased 7.8 percent during that time. Blacks, however, are 13 times more likely than whites to be in state prison for drug offenses, Beck’s research shows. “The racial disparity is about double the sentenced prison population overall,” he said.
In differentiating between drug possession and drug trafficking charges, Beck said that prison admissions per 1,000 arrests for possession dropped while admissions per 1,000 arrests for trafficking rose. Beck’s research shows that state courts are less likely to impose prison sentences on convicted drug felons. However, if sentenced to prison, drug felons are more likely to get a longer sentence. In 2000, there were 203,400 drug felony convictions, 41 percent of which resulted in prison sentences. This compared to 1990 when 49 percent of the 168,400 drug felons were sentenced to prison. “There’s been a decrease in the likelihood of going to prison given a conviction for drug trafficking and ... [what is] offsetting that is the increasing length of stay,” Beck said.
ACA Award Winners
In 1995, staff of The Central Florida Advocate won the ACA Outstanding Journalism Award for their reporting and support of the Orange County Corrections Department’s mission and vision. Nine years later, the newspaper is still assisting Orange County Corrections as the reporters continue to demonstrate their consistent and committed stance in trying to effect positive change within the youthful offender population. During the past nine years, The Central Florida Advocate has proved that its interest in corrections was not short-lived. The newspaper’s staff have conducted numerous positive-change seminars for the youthful offenders, encouraged the youths to write articles for the “Teen Talk Forum” and editorial sections, and facilitated writing exercises to enhance their writing skills. Staff of The Central Florida Advocate want to be a part of the solution, as opposed to just reporting it. In accepting the award on behalf of the newspaper, CEO Kevin Seraaj said, “Thank you very much for this most prestigious award.”
The Dual Diagnosis Offender Program at the Waterloo Residential Facility in Waterloo, Iowa, was honored with the Exemplary Offender Program Award. The program is an integrated residential program that identifies, educates and treats offenders with Axis I mental health and substance abuse disorders. The treatment offered focuses on enhancing the potential of the client by facilitating the establishment of a law-abiding lifestyle with a stabilized mental condition, free of chemical dependency. The program’s success is due to its combination of individualized programming, phased treatment interventions and treatment linkage. Of the 83 offenders who have completed their facility placement, 78 percent have maintained compliance with their programming and supervision. If not for the Dual Diagnosis Offender Program, many of these offenders likely would have been incarcerated or hospitalized in local or state institutions at an enormous cost to the communities. Given the obstacles of this population, the success rate is above the norm. Gary Maynard, director of the Iowa Department of Corrections, accepted the award on behalf of program staff. Maynard thanked ACA for “recognizing this program that deals with one of the more difficult challenges in our occupation.”
After the Opening Session keynote speech yesterday, two correctional officers were honored for their extraordinary accomplishments. Andrea Priester, a correctional officer at Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Md., received the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship for her commitment to King’s ideals, especially his belief that education is the way to peace, nonviolence and access to the world of knowledge. For three years, Priester pursued her degree in criminal justice while juggling the responsibilities of being a student, correctional officer and single mother of two. She graduated from Sojourner-Douglass College in Baltimore and earned her bachelor’s degree this past June. Priester also carries over King’s philosophy into her family life, where she teaches her children the value of helping others, cooperation, participation and consideration. In following King’s dream, she believes that one must help others and teach them the importance of learning and the consequences of their actions, which she demonstrates at Patuxent Institution where she has been a correctional officer since 1997. “I believe that education and civil service is the means to a better community, city, state and our nation,” said Priester after she thanked the Association for the award. “I try to instill these values in, not only my children, but to all who I come in contact with hoping that one person will understand my commitment and follow my lead.”
Medal of Valor
Sgt. Russell Bourgault a correctional officer at Martin Correctional Institution in Indiantown, Fla. was awarded the Medal of Valor for the extraordinary actions he took to keep two correctional officer trainees out of harm’s way. While performing a routine dorm search, an inmate stabbed Bourgault in the neck and jaw with a homemade knife. He then attempted to attack the trainees, but Bourgault placed himself between the inmate and the trainees while trying to control the bleeding from his wounds. He continued to protect the trainees while the inmate attacked, until additional officers arrived. “In the state of Florida and across the nation, we risk physical harm daily. Many have been injured by assaults and far too many have lost their lives while performing their duties. It is with great honor that I receive such a prestigious award,” he said. “I am proud to be a correctional officer.”
Peter P. Lejins Research
During yesterday’s Annual Luncheon, ACA honored two recipients for their contribution to corrections. Howard Snyder, director of systems research at the National Center for Juvenile Justice, the research division of the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges, was honored with the Peter P. Lejins Research Award. His tireless efforts gathering and analyzing statistics, and presenting them in a way that is clear and interesting to experts in the field, policy-makers and the public has had an enormous impact on juvenile justice policy and national awareness. Information that Snyder has gathered has become common knowledge and has shaped policy and budgetary decisions across the country. In accepting the award, Snyder thanked the ACA members and supporters saying, “It means a great deal to me that it comes from practitioners. Research that we do that’s not used is worthless, and you make our research valuable by using it. ... Because of you, our work has meaning.”
The Washington Correctional Association was presented the Community Service Award for their work over the years of incorporating community service projects into their annual events, demonstrating their compassion and commitment to offender change and community support. During 2002, the association’s efforts benefited homeless and disadvantaged community members. An auction held during WCA’s annual meeting and banquet raised $1,100 for the Thurston County Bread and Roses food bank, which provides food and other services to the homeless and needy, including ex-offenders. The auction included inmate-made goods, such as quilts and woodcarvings, and donated services and products. WCA President Doug Waddington and immediate past president Pamela Maddess accepted the award on behalf of the association. “We are delighted to be the recipient and we are very humbled at the selection,” Maddess said. “Thank you very much for your award.”
Past President Ellis MacDougall Honored
At the Past President’s Council Meeting on Sunday, a commemorative plaque was presented to Rachel MacDougall, widow of American Correctional Association Past President Ellis MacDougall, and their daughter Nancy. MacDougall, who passed away in December 2002, was president of ACA in 1969. John W. Braithwaite, chair of the Past President’s Council, remembered MacDougall as a mentor and friend and said, “I felt his loss very deeply.”
Louie Wainwright, also a former ACA president, gave memorable remarks during the presentation. Tearing up, he said, “It is a pleasure to present this award in honor of my good friend. ... Ellis had a keen interest in improving the field of corrections. He was never reluctant to try new systems. Although often criticized, he made substantial improvements that others could follow and benefit from.”
Upon receiving the plaque, Rachel MacDougall thanked the group for giving her husband “this wonderful honor,” and said that he “would have been proud and humbled by this recognition.”
In speaking to other colleagues and friends about MacDougall, Perry Johnson said, “Ellis was an extremely positive person with a great sense of humor. And yet, the point of his humor was often profound.” Sharing other memories was Helen Corrothers who said, “His many contributions to ACA will live on after him and be his legacy.” T. Don Hutto added that “Ellis was one of those rare people who everyone turned to for advice and mentoring. He took the time to share things with me [and] help me with my job, and I will never forget that.” Richard Stalder said, “I was a part of a generation of correctional officers that Ellis took under his wing. He paved the way and set the example for me to follow, often giving advice and wisdom. I will always be grateful for his leadership and contributions to the field.” And lastly, ACA Executive Director James A. Gondles Jr. shared this remembrance of MacDougall: “Ellis was excited that ACA started a certification program. This was a lifelong dream of his.” When Gondles became executive director, he said MacDougall told him jokingly, “Call me if you need anything, but if you don’t need my help, don’t bother.” This truly speaks to the quick wit and humor MacDougall often exhibited with colleagues and friends.
(From left to right:) Past President Louie L. Wainwright, Rachel MacDougall and her daughter Nancy.
The inscription on the plaque reads as follows:
Ellis Campbell MacDougall
American Correctional Association President, 1969
Innovator, Educator, Reformer and Friend
A man of vision, compassion and wit, filled with love of his fellow humankind.
Director, South Carolina Department of Corrections, 1962-1968
Co-founder, College of Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina, 1974
Director, Arizona Department of Corrections, 1978-1982
Founder, First DeFence International Security Company, 1987
Congratulations to 2004 Winter Conference Student Poster Winners
- First Place: Kasey L. Davis, Eastern Kentucky University, “Gangs in Schools: A Closer Look”
- Second Place: Robert W. Pelzer, Eastern Kentucky University, “Critical Issues Pertaining to School Violence: School Practices — Are They Making a Difference?”
First Place (two-way tie):
- Laura E. Bedard, Kerensa Pate and Dominiqe Roe, Florida State University, “A Program Analysis of Esuba: Helping Turn Abuse Around for Inmates”
- Diane Holden, University of North Dakota, “Victim Services and the State of North Dakota: A Geographical Perspective”