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As we enter the modern era, era of technology, a new active prison security and civil security has emerged. Money laundering, criminal organizations, drug trafficking, terrorism and facility escapes, victim and witness intimidation are just some of the unlawful actions that have long been conducted in prisons. What is new, however, is the way in which inmates are executing these illegal acts. For instance, not so long ago, the usage of mobile phones was an unlooked-for and unpredicted part of these unlawful activities. The consequences of these risky situations are potentially dangerous, far-reaching, and would cause a problem for any correction officer.
According to Dilulio, a specific feature of these modern crimes is that they are being assisted by residents using mobile phones that are smuggled into correctional institutions (Dilulio, 1997). Even though mobile phones are mostly regarded contraband in penitentiaries and are strictly forbidden, they are finding their way into our correctional institutions at an alarming rate. To worsen the problem is the fact that many of them provide texting, cameras and internet capabilities, GPS, which considerably increase the inmates’ ability to arrange and fulfill major offenses in a much more complex and threatening manner. For instance, in former times, a sex offender may have had the opportunity to write a intimidating or abusive letter to the victim. Nowadays, the use of a camera equipped mobile phone would let the offender to make insulting photos and mail them electronically to the victim, making a much more harmful and terrible effect on a person. Likewise, an inmate could now surreptitiously arrange and fulfill a get away with an accomplice by photographing escape ways and texting each other. In a worst case scenario they could talk in real time as to their location, potential detection issues and even give orders that could have critical and probably fatal results for people in the area. With the help of this technology, the inmates’ capability to be successful in the attempt is considerably increased.
Eventually, retention is still a major problem for correction officers. It is worsened by the reality of the work environment and less than sufficient repayment. A lot of people are just not appropriate for or do not want to work in a correction facility. Even more of staff do not care or are not able to afford to stay in the field because of the insufficient salary.
The problem of contraband mobile phones in a prison is clear; however the solution is not. It involves putting gadgets that can detect a phone, and also hindering residents from using them at the same time. They include denial of service, jamming and passive interception.
In order to be able to deal with these challenges one must be a trustworthy person regardless of any intimidation and threats. According to Tracy, the best way to avoid intimidation from inmates is by avoiding being too close to them; a correction officer should avoid as much as possible making close friendships with the inmates, which is most probably what officer Diaz had done and that is why it was claimed he was being blackmailed by the inmates.
In this case we can say that the life and well-being of the inmates depends on the correction officers, who are responsible for the inmates. That means they are the ones entrusted with the lives of the inmates and, therefore, this indicates that they must be trustworthy persons beyond any doubt. For instance, regarding smuggling of contraband items in prison, some of these items are dangerous weapons that can be used to harm either the officers or the inmates if they found their way inside the prison. An officer, who engages in such activities as bringing contrabands in prison, is simply betraying the trust given to him or her by the other officers, and betrayal itself is a crime. Therefore, trust is very crucial when working as correction officer; once you break the trust you are likely to fail in all your duties.
Regarding Officer Diaz, even though I witnessed him being threatened I would not judge him straight away; at first I will try to find out directly from him if he was actually going to bring the cigarettes. I would, thereafter, report the matter to the superiors. Also, I would try to find out who had requested for the cigarettes, why Officer Diaz had not reported the case before and also try to establish the relationship between the officer and the inmate.
Due to the nature of work and duties in prisons, staffs usually depend on each other for security and safety in case of emergency. Also, the staffs should take care of prisoners in terms of providing them with safety, security and other services. Close relationships between prisoners and staff should be discouraged because engaging in such close relationships probably discourage reporting of improper practices to management and to superiors. This may result in marginalization and victimization as what was probably the case with Officer Diaz and the inmate.
Regarding personal safety while working in prison, according to the chief security officer of Ohio maximum security prison, one should avoid making promises to the inmates that you know you cannot keep (Lombardo, 1991). One should also not accept gifts from prisoners because that is the time they begin to blackmail you, furthermore this will encourage corruption in prison, which is an offence that could put the officer’s job at risk. One should never give his/her home address to a prisoner because in case the prisoner is released after their jail term is over they may decide to come after you.
Also, an officer should not agree to do anything for a prisoner outside the prison, such as make a telephone call, buy something, because this will be putting his/her job at risk, since if the officer does it once then the prisoners will expect that the officer does it every time they ask him/her to do it or else they will report the matter to other officers.
Another way of ensuring safety in prison involves dealing fairly and in a humane way with the prisoners. Avoid discrimination when dealing with them; for instance it was possible that the inmate, who was accusing Officer Diaz, was being discriminated by the officers and that was the reason he was accusing him as a way of revenge.
To be on the safer side with the prison administration, as an officer I will ensure that I carry out my duties with loyalty, honesty and integrity. In case of intimidating and threatening inmates, I should be ready to report them to my superiors if am unable to contain them.
An advantage of seniority in prison environment is that it can essentially guarantee promotions and advancement in the job. Seniority leads to competition, which will help reduce employees’ turnover since quitting a certain position forfeit seniority. Also, seniority helps protect the superior from being laid off. Workers such as Officer Diaz, having a high level of seniority usually have a high job security. However, seniority in a prison environment is not always good especially when it comes to matters of personal security. For instance, as a correction officer one is expected to report improper practices among the inmates to superiors and this does not augur well with the prisoners, it often leads to acts of victimization and marginalization.
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