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Conflict management in corrections

Keeping a conflict from turning violent is your responsibility. And that means building your conflict management skills

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Did you know you should add the title “conflict manager” to your resume? Correctional facilities are hotbeds for conflict, which can easily turn to violence if not managed. We pack people from very different backgrounds and cultures into jails. Something as simple as an inmate’s appearance, skin color, or stated beliefs can spark a conflict that might turn violent without proper intervention.

Inmates aren’t free to leave when conflict arises. And most of them don’t know how to avoid conflict or de-escalate in a confrontation.

You are the ones in control. You are the individual with the authority. Keeping a conflict from turning violent is your responsibility. And that means building your conflict management skills.

Would you rather mediate a dispute between inmates, or break up a fight and deal with injuries, discipline, and paperwork? The answer is obvious.

It’s all about communication. Through your words, professional bearing, and interactions, you can demonstrate to inmates that conflict does not automatically lead to violence or combat. You can help inmates see that a disagreement or difference of opinion is not personal.

The best opportunities for you to practice conflict resolution and mediation come when an inmate is non-compliant or argumentative with you. Can you direct the conversation in a way that de-escalates the inmate and offers an alternative solution that will preserve the peace?

To de-escalate means to lower anxiety and reduce the stress in a conflict. To mediate means to work through the problem by exposing the core issue and offering more productive solutions. If you succeed, you have just managed a conflict.

There are numerous training programs to help you develop conflict management and mediation skills. Many of these resources are free. So get started today. Because these skills may just be the most powerful tool at your disposal while working at the dangerous, difficult job you do.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

For more tips from Gordon, click here.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.