Inmate Management and Communication

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Inmate Management and Communication


Gordon Graham
Category: Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for my friends in corrections, and it deals with command presence.  

Enforcing rules requires ownership

To the inmates, you are the supervisor, manager, arbitrator, adviser, counselor, and enforcer. As you toggle between these roles, inmates will judge you by one measurement: Did you make clear you’re the boss?  

Folks, it’s all in the delivery. When you enter the housing unit, you should be the first to speak. This is not the inmates’ “house” – it’s yours. You should be the one asking the questions and inmates should be the ones answering.  

Inmate management means carrying out unpleasant job duties. Enforcing rules requires ownership. The inmate needs to know that YOU are giving the orders, even if the orders originated from a supervisor or command staff. You’re not simply delivering someone else’s message. YOU are managing the inmate and the situation. Never let the inmate believe you are not the one in charge – even when you’re not.  

When an inmate tries to argue about a rule or an order, don’t get pulled in. Refer them to your facility’s appeals or grievance process. Don’t let an inmate verbally shove you aside by demanding to speak to someone of higher rank. 

It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the rule you may be enforcing. The inmates should never know your personal opinions about rules they don’t like. They should only know that you expect them to follow your directives without argument or discussion. 

Command presence is often called a soft skill that is hard to measure. It comes from a place of confidence that can only be developed with training and experience. It’s not hard for inmates to separate those corrections officers who own their actions from those who do not. Strive to be the officer who is firm, professional, and entirely in control.  

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

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