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Staff training is essential in correctional facilities such as prisons and other rehabilitation centers. The training is conducted and offered to new recruits and to the old staff members. The programs which are incorporated during training enable the staff to deal with prisoners emotional and psychological problems that they may be going through. Correctional facilities are in most cases viewed to be hostile especially to those under rehabilitation.
As a result, the prisoners tend to react violently, and their emotional state is volatile. (Kaslow, 2000) In addition, some inmates feel that they don’t deserve to be in correctional facilities and might attempt to escape, behave aggressively towards others and in extreme circumstances commit suicide. It therefore becomes vital to take the staff members through CTP (Correctional Training Program) to enable them handle the inmates in a way that is understandable and reasonable. (Kaslow, 2000)
Training Processes and the Effects
CTP (Correctional Training Program) is both an original program for new recruits and a refresher course for all correctional staff. All new recruits must be taken through the program to introduce them to all the procedures that will be encountered in their work. (Richard, 2005) For example PFW (Prison For Women) has put in place some refresher courses on how to improve personal safety and the overall skills of correctional staff including courses in control and arrest. (Eisler, 1997)This enables them to control violence in cells and prisons. Prison for women provides training on non-violent crisis intervention programs.
For instance, Shakopee correctional centre was trained by NCPINCI (National Crisis Prevention Institute in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention). NCPINCI has conducted training on correctional staff such as police departments and correctional services to both juvenile and adult, fire fighters, airport security, private industry security and security at health care centre. The officers are taken through, psychiatric courses due to the high number of offenders who have psychiatric problems. NHQ contributed to courses in non-violent crisis intervention. The very first course was in February, 1995 which included around 217 staff members’ drawn from PFW, and 10 staff members who were drawn from Regional psychiatric centre. (Hammond, 1995)
Despite the fact that most officers are trained social workers, and have taken studies in psychology, the refresher courses are mostly meant to produce qualified guidance and counselors, physical therapists occupational therapists and family psychologists. These specialists are good observers of human behavior and make critical analysis of the offender’s behavior and especially the state of mind. The training is meant to establish positive relationships between the offenders and the officers because they work directly and share personal relationships with the offenders.
In addition, the life in correctional facilities is usually stressful to the offenders due to the limitation of their freedom; as such they require a lot of moral, spiritual and emotional support to prevent cases of depression. (Kaslow, 2000) Constant guidance and counseling is therefore essential; not forgetting that some inmates have families and dependants and in this case the officers are supposed to fill the emotional void felt by the offenders. The officers can only be of assistance to the offenders if they take programs which will make it possible to understand their state of mind. (Hammond, 1995)
The staff members at the correctional centers should be in a position to identify the circumstances under which an offender committed a certain crime, so that preventative measures can be set up. (Eisler, 1997) For this to happen, the officers need to analyze, identify problems and give solutions. This will only be possible if the officers undertake refresher courses in psychology or sociology. According, to Richard P. Salter, the officers working in the rehabilitation centers had social work or clinical background and they had to take up guidance and counseling courses. Currently, most of the entering officers have at least a college degree with a major in criminal justice. (Richard, 2005)
In addition less than one-third majoring in psychology, sociology, or social work is also incorporated in the team. This ensures that the offenders are properly socialized before being released to the outside world. This kind of training makes it possible for new recruits and other staff members to contribute positively to crime and delinquency prevention not only in the correctional centers but even outside. (Richard, 2005)
Training promotes safety within the rehabilitation centre. The offenders are subjected to hard labor which at times poses health risks to the offenders. The work may involve handling dangerous chemicals and they might need directives from clinical officers and nurses on how to go about those tasks. The nurses and clinical officers are vital in promoting the health of the offenders. This is the reason why qualifications in nursing and clinical medicine for the officers are vital before taking up duties in the rehabilitation centers. (Hammond, 1995)
The officers at the rehabilitation centers are also trained in anger management courses to calm disruptive offenders and reinforce the existing laws as well as coordinate the various departments within the correctional facilities. For the officers to conduct their work efficiently, they are taken through training programs so that they acquire specialized training on how to work in correctional facilities and with offenders. (Van & Kotler, 2001) Through this specialized training, the staff members encourage the offenders to take up courses as well in various fields such as dressmaking, carpentry and others to improve the quality of their lives after leaving the correctional facilities. The idea is to better the offenders’ lives. (Kaslow, 2000)
The officers or new recruits are taught courses on leadership since they are likely to be left in charge of the rehabilitation centers during some hours. Training on how to manage crisis is crucial. Other courses are taken from frontline leadership program to train the officers on how to be efficient team leaders so that the offenders can look up to them as role models and emulate them. (Eisler, 1997) In addition supervisory training is required for the officers in charge of the centers and therefore several management and supervisory courses are taken by the staff members; to enhance the leadership role.
Management courses enable the officers to set reasonable rules and regulations which can be followed by the offenders. It is important that the team leaders manage junior officers in the right way since they need morale and satisfaction to be able to handle rather aggressive and non cooperative offenders. It thus becomes apparent, that team leaders get training on staff relations crisis management, financial management, anti-harassment, how to resolve team conflicts, how to clarify team roles and responsibilities as well as occupational health and safety. (Hammond, 1995)
Frontline Leadership Program is particularly for new recruits and it includes courses on how to get positive information from offenders and staff, how to get ones ideas across, how to deal with behavior that is more or less emotional, how to take corrective action, how to resolve team conflicts, coaching the staff members for optimum performance and how one should be able to get constructive feedback. (Van & Kotler, 2001)
The staff members working in rehabilitation centers are trained on cell entry and extraction. In Canada, officers in the PFW (Prison For Women) were taught a method which was applied in Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women. The team comprised of four people who are staff members; use equipment for responding to emergencies. The officers are protected with knees, visors and elbow protection and have overalls which are specially designed. The safety equipment enables them to access cells and be in a better position to deal with offenders who may unleash attacks on them. For instance, they have very big pillows which are designed instead of using the plastic shields which are quite heavy. The safety measures helps to avoid offenders from escaping. (Eisler, 1997)
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Officers working in rehabilitation institutions are taken through programs on the best practices which are used in the institutions to treat juvenile offenders. The officers are therefore able to educate the youth on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol and involve them in community clean ups once they are set free. The programs build rapport between the officers and the youth and contribute to the reduction of stereotypes and provide better opportunities for the youth in terms of skills gained at the rehabilitation centers. The programs such as how to get ones ideas across facilitate all the communications between law enforcement and the offenders. (Van & Kotler, 2001)
The offenders can give out their views and the officers are able to respond to them. The officers assist in crime watch by reporting all suspicious cases to the higher authority since they are trained on how to acquire good interpersonal skills. (Eisler, 1997)
Training of staff is essential in all correctional centers since the main aim of forming them is to improve the behaviors of the offender and make them fit in the society. It is apparent that training, and especially psychology courses has promoted relationships between the offenders and the officers. As a result there has been dramatic decline of violence in those centers due to the counseling facilities available to the offenders. In addition, training has enabled the institutions to cope with demands of modern life in the correctional centers. All staff should be trained at all times to maintain the correctional center’s standards. (Hammond, 1995)
Eisler, S. (1997) Violence and Crime Reduction in Prisons, Harvard University Press.
Hammond, H (1995) Improving Psychiatric Intervention, American Press, US.
Kaslow, K. (2000) Supervision, Consultation and Staff Training in the Helping Professions, Harvard Press, UK.
Richard, P (2005) Effects of Training on Staff: Rehabilitation Centers, Harvard Press, UK.
Van, H., William, H. & Kotler, J. (2001) Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy, Palgrave Press, US.