October 26, 2021

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How Inmates Manipulate Correctional Officers

Gordon Graham
Category: Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s tip is for my friends in Corrections and deals with how inmates manipulate correctional officers and other staff members.

Remember folks, inmates are watching and listening to everything you and your coworkers do or say, 24 hours a day.

Throughout my career, I have many heard stories about good staff who fall victim to an inmate’s con game. Inmates are skilled at manipulating staff to get them to do what they want. It doesn’t matter where you work, the game is the same across the country. In their book, Games Criminals Play, authors Bud Allen and Diana Bosta refer to this as “downing a duck.” The “duck” refers to staff who are easily manipulated or fooled. By the way, I highly recommend this book, especially for newer correctional officers and staff.

Many inmates by nature are generally narcissistic and will act in their own best interest. Their goal is to befriend staff members and manipulate them into thinking it’s a true friendship.

Inmates begin by grooming a staff member. They say things like, “You’re a good person, you must truly care about the people under your charge.” These kind words can make staff feel good about themselves and about their job and provide them with a sense of purpose.

Next, the inmate gets the staff member to lower their guard or bend the rules. They’ll use an informal tone as if you’re friends like; “Hey man, the game is on past lockdown today. Any chance we could keep the TV on during count? I tried asking the control officer, but he said you’re running the show.” Simple innocuous requests are used to hook a vulnerable staff member.

Once hooked, the inmate uses these types of favors as bargaining chips to get the officer to do other things, such as bringing in a cell phone or drugs, or getting involved in an inappropriate  relationship.

Remember folks, inmates are watching and listening to everything you and your coworkers do or say, 24 hours a day. They are excellent intelligence gatherers and will take any useful information they can to try to manipulate you. Don’t let your guard down.

You can be nice and pleasant without letting your guard down. The old adage, “Don’t confuse my kindness for weakness” is exactly what your expressions and body language should project back to the inmate.

Don’t fall victim to the age-old manipulations and con games that inmates play. Don’t be the duck.

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

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