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Summary of Focus Groups with Jail Officers on Implementation of the

Community Model for Corrections Program

Indiana Correctional Facility

May 31, 2007

 

By Ruth Andrews, Independent Evaluator

 

I interviewed first and second shift officers separately; their comments are combined in this summary. I asked open-ended questions about their job, [and] the POD (jail block, referred to as ‘A Block’), where the Community Model for Corrections has been implemented beginning in August of 2006. The final question was, “If I could do something to improve jail culture I would…” Officers on the first shift tended to have more job experience; the range was from 4 months to 12 years. The job history among second shift officers ranged from 2 weeks to 3 years. The officers with the most seniority did the most talking. Most officers came from a hierarchical background such as law enforcement or the military, while the two female officers interviewed came from accounting and social work.

 

  Guys who consider themselves hard won’t go there ‘cause it’s considered punk.

  The guys in the POD take heat for being there, but they don’t back down. It helps there’s a group of them. They want the help.

  If they don’t make an effort, they don’t last. We call it jail survival. It’s good they can get voted “off the island”. [The community coordinator] gets the non-performers out of there. She does a good job interviewing, laying down the law and delivering consequences.

  If they get voted out and come back, they tend to do well.

  I’ve seen a lot of people turn themselves around.

  I didn’t believe the inmates would come to terms with any of it. I’ve been proved wrong. They seem like respectable people. I think you should make the whole jail this way. They’re held accountable.

  “A Block” is one less block to worry about. We don’t have to deal with them when they deal with themselves. When the entire block observes the rules, it takes the pressure off the individual (they conform).

  The program teaches teamwork and forces them to think.

  They have to rely on each other – have to share feelings.

  The POD has been good for some people with anger problems.

  They can let their true personalities out. They develop trust. They don’t have to be aggressive all the time.

  They talk nicer to us.

  Before this, we didn’t get any respect at all.

  They have a sense of responsibility and control.

  Safer. Not as many fights.

  “A Block” is pretty quiet.

  They’re like one big, happy family!

  I’m pretty impressed that it’s working at all after it got bigger. At first, I didn’t think it would.

  Some people lasted longer than I expected.

  [I] can’t understand the selection process.

  [I] don’t know what they do.

  I was just given a quick explanation. I didn’t have a good understanding of what it was about. They want the help.

  The materials and videos are hitting the core issues.

  In seven months, no one’s told me anything about it; supposed to be an honor-type block. Don’t know anything about it.

  POD inmates have consequences and expectations in addition to certain privileges; they get [personal] cleaning supplies twice a day. They have more pride.

  I’m surprised by who’s worked out. Even those who get kicked out say it’s a good program. They earn their way back in.

  I want it here as long as it keeps working, keeps people calm. I think it will keep them from coming back.

 


 

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