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Surviving corrections: Advice that can help you throughout your career

Experience is key in this profession and can never be replaced with classroom knowledge

As most would tell you, Corrections is not for everyone. It’s a career that will test your heart and push you to the limits. If you want to survive in this world, you have to know your vulnerabilities and you have to be willing to listen to others who have walked the walk before you. Experience is key in this profession and can never be replaced with classroom knowledge. Below is a list of advice from Senior Staff that will help you survive your career in corrections.

Just Some Friendly Advice
Jonathan Casteel: The best advice I was given when I started was to be firm, fair and consistent because at the end of the day the inmates are still human beings. I was also told not to change from day to day, be very consistent in who you are so the inmates know what you expect of them

Paul Busch: A grievance just means you’re doing your job.

Zack Robinson: Simple respect will make your job a lot easier.

Andre Andrews: The best advice....Do Not Argue with inmates....give them a directive and step....verify later....don’t press them out in front of other inmates....Respect is the key. Also, When drama pops off on a out for baby oil sprayed on the floor. Listen more, talk less. And size means nothing.

Joe Mynaugh: To slow down and make sure I set the tone not the inmates.

Vee Surdo: 8 and skate!

Larry Davidson: Always say no. You can more easily turn a no into a yes but you cant turn a yes into a no.

Anthony Gangi: Know yourself! Know your vulnerabilities! And, most importantly, remember this, “anyone can be manipulated.”

Russ Hamilton: A sergeant at my first institution told me that the only way to survive in corrections was to get to be very good at it. He said that if I became exceptionally proficient at it that I would enjoy it and if I enjoyed it the negative aspects would never seem to be a problem.

Robert Snavely: Pay attention to your surroundings and what’s going on because things can happen so damn fast. Also, don’t let them see you sweat and don’t act all cocky because you’re asking for trouble.

Virgil Starkey: Be honest with the inmates.

Robert N Renee Taylor: I always tell my trainees, you cant get into trouble for shutting doors on a wing.

Wayne Sanderson: “Kid, if you ever become effective and competent in this business, it’ll make a liar out of you. Find a way to tell the truth.”

Charlotte Headley: Never say anything at work (to an inmate or co-worker) you wouldn’t say in front of your shift lieutenant.

Kat Williams: Show yourself friendly but Do Not be their friend!

John Burn: Be firm, fair, & consistent EVERYDAY. Run your unit, don’t let it run you.

Andy Mancusi: Don’t bring the job home and don’t bring home to the job.

Krista Jenkins: Cover your ass!

Gary York: Take your time when writing a report. You never know who is going to be reading it. And leave your opinions (why) out of it.
Never ignore those with experience

As you can see, listed above is advice that can only come from years of experience. Where we are at today in corrections relates strongly to who we were yesterday. Those who have survived this profession have forged a path for future generations to follow. It is through their blood, sweat and tears that we are able to progress. Never ignore those who have walked the walk and earned their stay in this great profession. The lessons they can teach will be far greater than anything you could ever learn in a classroom.

Anthony Gangi has a BA in psychology and is a 20-year veteran in corrections. He currently works as an Associate Administrator for State Corrections and has worked his way up through the ranks, from officer to sergeant, and then into administration. Anthony currently sits on the executive board of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Correctional Association. To date, Anthony Gangi has been invited to speak on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, Lifetime, ABC, Fox and NewsNation. He is also the author of “Inmate Manipulation Decoded” and “How to Succeed in Corrections,” as well as the host of the Tier Talk podcast.