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Gary Cornelius

Talks About Training

Lt. Gary F. Cornelius retired in 2005 from the Fairfax County (VA) Office of the Sheriff, after serving over 27 years in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. His prior service in law enforcement included service in the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division. His jail career included assignments in confinement, work release, programs, planning/ policy and classification.

He has taught corrections courses for George Mason University since 1986. He also teaches corrections in service sessions throughout Virginia, and has performed training and consulting for the American Correctional Association, the American Jail Association and the National Institute of Justice. His latest book, The Correctional Officer: A Practical Guide: Third Edition will be published later this year by Carolina Academic Press. He has authored several other books about corrections including The American Jail: Cornerstone of Modern Corrections, 2008 from Pearson Prentice Hall, The Art of the Con: Avoiding Offender Manipulation, Second Edition, 2009, and Stressed Out: Strategies for Living and Working in Corrections, Second Edition, 2005, both available from the American Correctional Association.

Gary received a Distinguished Alumnus Award in Social Science from his alma mater, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and an Instructor Appreciation Award from George Mason University. He is an independent freelance correctional author and trainer. Gary serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP) representing local adult corrections. He can be reached at 571-233-0912 or at

Elderly inmates pose some special challenges in corrections, including safety issues as well as the physical and mental problems associated with age
With facilities constantly short-staffed, today’s corrections training requires innovative scheduling, methods and platforms for success
It is important that all staff know and follow their agency’s policies on security, inspections, contraband and escapes
Many in corrections aren’t fully aware of the impact inmate ingenuity can have on daily operations; jail staff need to be alert and on guard
Good training helps with morale, boosts employee self-confidence, improves job performance and improves staff retention
Maintaining order involves more than just searching and counting inmates and performing inspections. It involves understanding your inmate population
Taking a “wait and see” approach or assuming the officer will improve on their own sends the message that the behavior is acceptable
Cultural diversity training in corrections must do more than identify differences — it must include strategies for defusing racial tension
We may not be able to resolve all the root causes of staff shortages in corrections, but there are steps that can help alleviate the problem
Ethics in corrections is paramount to preventing harm to inmates, ensuring officer safety and protecting the community