My experience in corrections is limited to only 4 years. I feel that in my time there, I learned a lot about what the custody part of corrections job consists of, not necessarily what the parole portion or the prison administration does. As a first line supervisor within the correctional system, the staff was held to somewhat of the same standards as I did young airmen in the military. They were expected to be at work on time, read their post orders daily, and maintain control of the dormitory or segregation unit in which they worked. They were given the opportunity to make decisions on their own and only to keep me informed of what they were doing. Most of the decision making came from the Warden and his staff. We had a Correctional Major and Captains as intermediate level supervisor who took the brunt of the complaints between custody and administration. There were policies and directives being disseminated constantly within the prison. At time it felt like the saying “going blind with paperwork”, having to read everything being passed down. Some of the policies had justification and some seemed to be just frivolous fodder to give administration something to do.
Another issue which was the cause of much contention within the custody ranks was the adherence to the rules or policies. One of the main culprits of many custody staff being fired or quitting was the use of tobacco within the facilities. The facility is a “tobacco free” facility. That means no tobacco for any offenders or staff members. Tobacco is an addictive drug and there were many staff members who snuck cigarettes and smokeless tobacco into the facility because of their need to have it, instead of waiting until their shift was over. This in-turn was also the cause of offenders running illegal contraband within the confines of the facility. Staff members would smuggle tobacco by the pouches into the facility as staff was rarely shaken down. This made it ideal for dishonest staff to make some extra money bringing in contraband to offenders. Once the offender had the staff member on the hook for smuggling, it was just a matter of time before the staff was caught and fired for it. Tobacco often times was more expensive than drugs like marijuana, prescription medication, or cocaine.
I feel that another of the main issues, at least within the facility I worked at, was the discord between custody and non-custody staff. Custody was in charge of all the offenders within the facilities, while non-custody had interactions with offenders, their main job was to teach in most cases. Many were college or high school teachers, facility supervisors over the industrial areas, and nursing staff or administration. These non-staff positions often tried to tell custody staff how to do their jobs. This often caused contention between all parties and when brought to the custody supervisor, was corrected after having spoken with the non-custody supervisor. This course has opened my eyes to the administration side of Criminal Justice. Prior to this course, I had no idea about how budgeting or the financial aspect of Criminal Justice actually worked.
This topic is one which I am glad to have studied. I may not get to the administrative level of whatever Criminal Justice profession I choose, but having some knowledge of how it works will definitely benefit me in the long run. I would encourage anyone taking Criminal Justice or pursuing a career in Criminal Justice to take this course as the material if very relevant to the job, especially those seeking positions as administration. Also, mid-level supervisors should take it as it gives them insight into what is expected of the administration when it comes to policy, budgets and financial planning for the Criminal Justice System. I wish I had taken this course just a bit later in my college studies as I had quite a few irons in the fire during this courses duration. Trying to juggle college, a fulltime job, family life, and other outside entities were definitely distractors during this course. I did not get to dedicate the time fully to the course that if deserved and my grade reflects that.