2015 in corrections: The year of professionalism

The year 2014 has been quite a year in corrections, and not necessarily in a good way

The year 2014 has been quite a year in corrections, and not necessarily in a good way. From Charles Manson getting permission to marry, to the demise of the Mississippi Department of Corrections Secretary Epps, to the renewed focus on the necessary evil of segregation, and to the Florida Department of Corrections facing some challenges, our profession has been a roller coaster.

My prediction is 2015 is our year – the year of the corrections professional! In 2015, we need to "kick it up a notch". We, as corrections professionals (not guards, turn keys or new jacks) need to raise to a level of professionalism we've never seen. We need to hold each other accountable and practice integrity, respect and loyalty. Anytime we stoop to the level of inmate by engaging in arguments or having to use force, we've lost. Our ability to use our interpersonal skills and not get hot tempered is a victory.

Our job as corrections professions is not to "teach the inmate a lesson". They come to prison as punishment, not for punishment. Our job as professions is to model appropriate behavior and to assist inmates, regardless of what they did, in becoming better people. I always think of inmates as potentially my brother, mother, son, cousin. I think to myself how would I want them to be treated if they wound up incarcerated?

AP Photo/Francois Mori

So, I've declared 2015 the year of corrections professionalism. We will honor our profession by not stepping out of line. We will work as a team and keep each other safe and professional. We will continuously raise the bar.  We will not turn a blind eye to the bad apples in our profession; we will weed them out. We will work on recruiting and retaining the best and bringing dignity and respect back to our profession.

We will focus on the awesome task at hand of being responsible for thousands of human lives. Like a ripple in a pond when a rock is thrown, the impact we can have on one inmate, is huge. Our teaching can impact his family, his friends and his or her community. Let's pledge that we will act with integrity both on and off the job. We will serve as role models to our own children and to our community. We will earn respect from all through honor and distinction. We will no longer be the "step child" of the criminal justice system. 

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