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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Great Enablers

I’m a bit under the weather so forgive me if I ramble but I’ve been thinking about the attitude of inmates and how many act like spoiled children instead of adults. Many are demanding and have a difficult time with the words no, wait, later and even the infamous I’ll look into it and let you know.

We have become the ultimate enablers. What I mean by that is that our job and priorities have been blurred and changed to the point that what we do doesn’t have anything to do with corrections and the farthest idea from ‘rehabilitation’. Part of the problem is that as a reception center we treat unclassified level IV inmates as level II inmates instead of the other way around.

There is enough blame to go around to why this has happened. I blame most of it on two specific entities: CDCr State and institutional administrations. Let me break it down… At the institutional level there are many levels of how the enabling of inmates has increased, but what it comes down to is pride, self preservation and self promotion....

Pride is in the equation because no one can tell an administrator how to handle a situation. They have the best answer to any question and the position to order it carried out without being questioned, even though it may break current policies, procedures and protocols.

Self preservation is a problem due to the ongoing threats and fillings of frivolous lawsuits by inmates on institutional administrations and the department as a whole. It’s just easier to allow an “individual” bend of the rules in the ‘spirit of the law’ than to enforce the rules in its entirety and allow the laws to speak for them. Once so many situations are dealt with on an “individual basis” instead of by the matrix of rule violations that we are supposed to go by, not only do those rules get bent but broken and become unrecognizable which leaves the lines staff confused and disoriented on how to handle situations because of the digression of authority of officers by administration by lessening the seriousness of the rule violations reported by officers.

Self promotion is possibly the greatest problem. As a Lieutenant or Captain, it is not favorable when you enter the wardens meeting having to speak about problems or situations that happened on your yard or in your respective program. The only way to self promote how smooth operations are under your watch is to use the old CDC saying; If it’s not on paper it didn’t happen. The second unwritten rule is to minimize the seriousness of a given situation to show that everything is under control and whatever happened is not worthy of concern. Otherwise you can be looked over for a more favorable position or special assignment that can lead to a more auspicious career. I'm sure it gets worse as you promote.

At the state level the problem is a bit broader. CDCr administration is in the pocket of the governor and has assumed the position as ‘yes men’ to ensure their administrated positions (self preservation), which has grown three fold under the Schwarzenegger administration. State administration is not involved in the day-to-day running in the institutions. But again as inmate lawsuits pile up against the department, the CDCr administration responds as they always do… they go overboard. Instead of seeing what exactly needs to be changed in what areas and why, they use a blanket effect to cover everything relying on line staff to sort out the problems of how to effectively do the job proficiently while also completing court mandated policies.

An example of this is the Federal Receiver. Instead of looking at where the original problem began, CDCr would rather an outside influence commandeer control of the medical department and screw up the problem even more by throwing money at a situation that just hired more unprepared medical staff without training or understanding of the differences between correctional medical care and a regular hospital. It doesn’t matter how you change the words, the ‘patients’ that are cared for are inmates. Inmates were deemed not fit to live in general society in a court of law. That does not mean they deserve better medical treatment than innocent law abiding citizens, victims, children or those who work for the department. Now we have the greatest financial responsibility forced on us by the feds because CDCr and the Governator was either too weak and inept to handle the problem or just didn’t want to tackle the situation and felt it easier to let a receiver do it for them. That’s kind of like allowing a lawyer to walk in your house to treat a common cold, take care of your house hold needs while tripling the cost of getting it done and you can’t say anything.

When I first joined the department the job during the shift was to ensure the safety of everyone inside the prison walls by enforcing the rules of the D.O.M. and Title 15. We made sure that the inmates got ‘what they had coming’. No special treatment or extra privileges. It seems that those times are now lost.

The concept of reasonable impartiality has been erased by the enabling of inmates and allowing them to receive what they do not deserve. Line staff is not to blame. I can say that because you never hear administration complaining that we are not writing up inmates for violations, serious or administrative, but you do here complaints of write-ups being dropped or dismissed without probable reason or just cause.

If a matrix is to be used on how officers are reprimanded because of whatever they may or may not have done, why aren’t the inmates that were actually found guilty of a felony held to the same, if not higher standards? The correctional officer’s code of ethics holds us to a standard of performance that we must attain and as I see it, 98% of officers meet that goal. I guess administration see’s it that 99% of the inmates meets the inmate code of ethics and they can be judged on a case by case basis.
I’m just Sayin…

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