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Training/Policy/Employment: Officer and ex-inmate relationship

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shanem Posted: Thu, Apr 12 2007 4:19 PM

A huge majority of our administration and staff feel that right now...we need a policy in particular. Kansas has no minimum requirement for employment in a jail. No special training needed. So we take someone right off the street and try to teach them how to do the job. What is very difficult to teach is the type of mentality that is required to this type of work. Not long ago we were informed that one of our officers on night shift was flirting with one of the inmates. In the meantime the inmate was transferred to another facility (in no connection with this issue). Also in the meantime, we were informed that the inmate bonded out of that facility and was back on the street and that our officer posted bail money. The officer maintains that "nothing" went on while on the job, but common sense dictates that "something" did. Even if it did not cross the physical threshold. It's been about two weeks and the two are now married.

So what I would like to know now is several things:

1) Can a regular training program include something to prevent this from happening in the future?

2) What policies can be implemented to deal with these types of situations?

3) Lacking a formal policy and given that the officer's employment probationary period still applies, what can/should be done to handle the situation now in accordance with corrections of the new millenium?

S.M. Mahan

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Iowa Jail Standards advise that the a person has to be 18 years of age or older; is able to read and write in English; Is of good moral character as determined by a thorough background investigation including a fingerprint search conducted of local, state, and national fingerprint files; Is not by reason of conscience or belief opposed to the use of force, when appropriate or necessary to fulfill the person's duties; has the ability to perform the essential elements of the position as defined in department job specifications; is an appropriate candidate for employment as demonstrated by qualified psychological screening.  The Standards further state that No employee shall be retained who has demonstrated inappropriate action beyond a reasonable degree, who is not psychologically fit for jail employment, or who has repeatedly failed to observe these rules.

     #1.  Yes, Departments can set codes of conducts and train their staff and manage accordingly

    #2.  Ethics; Rules of Order for Detention Officers

    #3.  Is there anything the officer was told, signed during hiring?  Was any disciplinary action (verbal admonishment, etc)  taken for the "flirting"? 

I don't know what the current laws are, but it used to be that, while on probation, an officer could be dismissed without cause.  

Deanna Axland

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BETO replied on Fri, Apr 13 2007 10:06 AM

S. M. Mahan - Your situation is not unique, as the article below suggests.  D. R. Beto





Dan Richard Beto

Chair, Governing Board

Texas Regional Center for Policing Innovation

Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, Texas


Ronald P. Corbett, Jr., Ed. D.

Executive Director

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Boston, Massachusetts

            For years we have found questionable the practice of requiring corrections officers and other social service providers to attend mandatory training on ethics.  We viewed this practice as dubious because we believed persons engaged in the delivery of correctional and human services were responding to a calling, a higher purpose, and, by the very nature of their work, they did not require training on ethical behavior.  In addition, most of the training on ethics we have observed was pedagogically defective in that the presenters dryly discussed the difference between right and wrong, quoted language from regulations and statutes, or attempted to “preach” to those in attendance.

            Based on an emerging body of knowledge, coupled with research conducted during a month’s period, we have, regrettably, abandoned our view that ethics training is unnecessary.  Furthermore, it is our view that the entire issue of ethical conduct needs to be revisited.

Actual Cases

            For a thirty day period we subscribed to a service through the search engine “Google” that provided us with current news items – both in the print and electronic media – on a variety of subjects.  Some of the subjects we searched on a daily basis were the terms “jail,” “jailer,” “corrections officer,” and “detention officer” which provided us with accounts of innovative corrections programs; current issues in correctional facilities; and special recognitions involving jail and corrections personnel.

Unfortunately, this service also provided information that did not speak well of the corrections profession.  During the month of May 2006 Google highlighted the following news stories:


§         May 8, 2006: Akron Beacon Journal (Ohio), “7 Warren County officers face discipline for Internet use.”


Seven officers in the Warren County Sheriff’s Department in Lebanon, Ohio, face disciplinary action for accessing unauthorized Internet sites on the job.  A lieutenant, sergeant, and a corrections officer were accused of unbecoming conduct, neglect of duty, and improper use of equipment involving pornographic sites.  In addition, another sergeant and three corrections officers were accused of neglect of duty and improper use of equipment.  In a follow-up article appearing in the Middletown Journal, it is reported the sheriff fired the lieutenant and sergeant.  Discipline for the others involved ranged from a three-day suspension to official reprimands.


§         May 8, 2006: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Georgia), “Jailer arrested for child molestation.”


            A 38 year old man who worked at the Dallas County Jail was arrested by officers with the Paulding County Sheriff’s Department for child molestation.  He is charged with one count of aggravated child molestation and one count of aggravated sodomy; the alleged victim is a ten year old girl.


§         May 11, 2006: Knoxville News Sentinel (Tennessee), “Ex-Cocke officer arrested.”


            A former Cocke County Sheriff’s Department corrections officer was arrested by the FBI for allegedly beating a jail inmate in 2003.  The 22 year old former corrections officer was charged by federal indictment with violating the civil rights of an inmate in pretrial detention by assaulting him while in custody.  This arrest represents the eighth Cocke County lawman to be arrested as part of a five year probe into public corruption and organized crime in the county.


§         May 11, 2006: Atlanta Journal Constitution (Georgia), “Former Clayton corrections officer charged with battery.”


            A former Clayton County corrections officer was arrested and placed into custody in the jail where he used to work, charged with the simple battery of three inmates.  It is alleged the former officer, who was fired for the incident, “repeatedly and unreasonably” grabbed the penises of three inmates during body-cavity searches for contraband.


§         May 12, 2006: Ashland City Times (Tennessee), “Former Wilson County jailer gets 70 months in abuse case.”


            A former Wilson County jailer found guilty of conspiring to violate the civil rights of inmates will spend close to six years in federal prison.  Following the service of the custodial portion of his sentence, he will be on two years supervised release.  The 25 year old former jailer was among several Wilson County jailers indicted on federal charges of abusing inmates, denying them medical assistance, conspiring to violate their civil rights, and covering up the abuse by writing false reports.


§         May 12, 2006: Munster Times (Indiana), “Juvenile officer arrested on alcohol charge again.”


            A longtime Porter County juvenile detention officer is back behind bars on a public intoxication charge less than a month after pleading guilty to drunken driving and being placed on probation.  The defendant, age 48, has worked as a county detention officer for nearly 26 years.  At the time of the article, no disciplinary action had been taken by his employer, who allowed him to remain employed following his conviction for driving under the influence.


§         May 15, 2006: WTVF-TV (Nashville, Tennessee), “Jailer admits to repeatedly letting inmate out.”


            The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged a 25 year old defendant awaiting sentencing on three county of child rape had escaped, after a jailer had let him out of cell.  The jailer, who told the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation he had let the inmate out several times before, has since been fired.


§         May 16, 2006: WREG-TV (Memphis, Tennessee), “Shelby County corrections officer charged with sexual battery.”


            A veteran Shelby County corrections officer has been arrested and charged with the sexual battery of a 15 year old girl.  Employed by the county penal farm since 1989, the 44 year old lieutenant allegedly forced himself on the girl during a sleep-over at his residence.  He has been suspended without pay pending an investigation.


§         May 17, 2006: DeWitt Era-Enterprise (Arkansas), “Jailer quits job after sex incident.”


A jailer at the Arkansas County Detention Center resigned after he was found to have had “inappropriate” contact with a female inmate.  While he resigned after the allegations were brought to light, the sheriff said that he planned to pursue charges against him.


§         May 17, 2006: The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), “Another ex-jailer admits to having sex with Dixie inmate.”


            A second former Washington County jail guard has pled guilty to having sexual relations with an inmate.  The 31 year old defendant entered please of guilty to one count of custodial sexual relations, a third degree felony, and one count of custodial sexual misconduct, a class A misdemeanor.  This defendant and a 57 year old jail sergeant have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in an investigation involving two other guards who had sex with inmates or people on probation.


§         May 17, 2006: North County Gazette (New York), “Corrections officer indicted for murder in DWI death.”


            A 50 year old corrections officer at the Bare Hill Correctional Facility in Malone has been indicted for murder as the result of an automobile accident last month in which an 18 year old high school student was killed.  At the time of the accident, the defendant’s blood alcohol content was found to be .12.


§         May 22, 2006: KAKE-TV (Wichita, Kansas), “Sedgwick County jailer arrested.”


            A Sedgwick County jailer resigned after being arrested for having sex with inmates.  It is reported that the 34 year old former ex-jailer had sex with one female inmate in a housing pod near the officers’ work area and with another after she was released from jail.  According to the news report, “even though it’s believed both inmates consented to sex, it’s still against the law and authorities say it’s a bad situation because there is no balance of power – the jailer has it all.”  The former jailer is at liberty on bond.


§         May 24, 2006: Gillette News Record (Wyoming), “Panel wants a bill drafted to make sex between prison guards, inmates illegal.”


            The Wyoming legislature has been asked to create legislation to make sexual relations between correctional officers and inmates illegal.  The request came just a couple of months after a Platte County jail guard was acquitted of sexually assaulting an inmate.  The jailer acknowledged having sex with the female prisoner but told jurors that the woman “came onto him and that the sex was consensual,” a legitimate defense under Wyoming law.


§         May 24, 2006: WQAD-TV (Moline, Illinois), “Jail guard accused of selling drugs to inmates gets probation.”


            A St. Clair County corrections officer entered a plea of guilty to selling drugs to two inmates over a four month period.  As part of a plea agreement, the defendant will be on probation for two years and will pay a $1,500 fine.  In addition, he will be prevented from working in law enforcement or corrections in the future.


§         May 24, 2006: Carroll County Comet (Indiana), “Former jailer pleads guilty to battery.”


            A former Carroll County jailer entered a plea of guilty to battery.  According to the probably cause affidavit, the 37 year old jailer had observed a female inmate passing notes to boys in the next cell block.  In exchange for not writing her up, the victim agreed to allow the jailer to touch her breasts through her shirt.  As part of the plea agreement, the defendant will serve one year on probation, 60 days house arrest, and complete a sexual harassment class or counseling.


§         May 25, 2006: KCEN-TV (Temple, Texas), “Limestone County corrections officer going to prison.”


            A plea agreement has been reached in a murder case involving a former Limestone County corrections officer, who allegedly killed his girlfriend and then tampered with evidence.  According to the plea bargain, he is to receive a 25 year sentence.


§         May 25, 2006: Arizona Daily Star (Arizona), “Douglas guard sentenced in pot bust.”


            A former Douglas corrections officer was sentenced to 19 months in prison for smuggling 22 pounds of marijuana into the United States.  “This case represents yet another public official who has fallen prey to public corruption,” said the U. S. Attorney.


§         May 25, 2006: The Macon Telegraph (Georgia), “Kingsland police officer fired amid rape investigation.”


            A police officer who was being investigated for his role in an alleged rape at his home has been fired for violation the city’s policy for off-duty conduct of police officers.  The police officer and a Camden County corrections officer were both suspended after a 19 year old woman accused the corrections officer of raping her at the police officer’s home on April 28.  The woman said she was raped after drinking alcohol with the two officers that night.  The corrections officer, age 28, has worked at the Camden County Jail for a year; he has been suspended without pay pending completion of the investigation.  In a follow-up story, both were indicted by a Camden County grand jury on three county of providing alcohol to minors.  The grand jury found insufficient evidence to indict the corrections officer on any sex charge.  The alcohol charge carries a maximum sentence of twelve months in prison.


§         May 26, 2006: Palm Beach Post (Florida), “Corrections officer kills self after home searched for child porn.”


            A Palm Beach County corrections officer killed himself shortly after his Port St. Lucie home was search as part of an Internet child pornography investigation.  The 46 year old corrections deputy committed suicide in his personal vehicle at Lake Lytal Park near the Palm Beach County Jail.  During the execution of the search warrant a computer and some diskettes were seized.


§         May 26, 2006: WIS-TV (Columbia, South Carolina), “SC Department of Corrections officer faces drug charges.”


            A prison officer was arrested on drug charges after he bought an ounce of marijuana from an undercover officer to take to an inmate.  The 21 year old officer, who worked at the Trenton Correctional Institute in Edgefield County, was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, furnishing contraband to prisoners, and misconduct in office.


§         May 26, 2006: Macon Telegraph (Georgia), “Officer accused of trying to smuggle items into prison.”


            A federal corrections officer has been arrested for trying to smuggle a cell phone and pornographic magazines into the United States Penitentiary at Atlanta.  According to the article, the 31 year old defendant had been a corrections officer for five year.


§         May 27, 2006: Desoto Sun-Herald (Florida), “Corrections officer arrested for sex with inmate.”


            A Charlotte County corrections officer was arrested and placed on paid leave after admitting to having a sexual relationship with a female inmate while on duty at the jail.  The 32 year old officer, a six year veteran with the sheriff’s department, was charged with sexual misconduct after having sex with a 25 year old woman who had become a trusty at the jail.  This incident is not the first of its kind at the jail.  In October 2004 a female corporal who had been fired for having an inappropriate relationship with an inmate was charged in the shooting death of her husband.  In November 2004 a nurse at the jail gave drugs to an inmate with whom she had a romantic relationship.  In December 2004 a female corrections officer was arrested for allegedly giving drugs to a male inmate with whom she was suspected to have had a romantic relationship.  And in January 2005, a jail cook was charged with sexual misconduct with an inmate at the jail.


§         May 31, 2006: Arizona Daily Star (Arizona), “State prison guard indicted in bogus green card scheme.”


            A guard at the State Prison in Perryville has been indicted in a Phoenix-based fraud scheme that charged as much as $7,500 for fake immigration documents and victimized more than 500 people.  At times when she was interacting with her victims, she wore her Arizona Department of Corrections uniform.  If convicted, the 36 year old woman could be sentenced to serve twenty years in prison and fined $180,000.


§         May 31, 2006: KAJ-TV (Kalispell, Montana), “Former officer pleads not guilty to misconduct with inmates.”


            A 23 year old Lake County detention officer accused of misconduct with female inmates pleaded not guilty in Polson.  According to the report, he is charged with rape, attempted rape, solicitation, and prostitution.  He is accused of giving some female inmates cigarettes in return for sex.  Lake County jail inmates are prohibited from using tobacco.


§         May 31, 2006: The Lakeland Ledger (Florida), “Ex-DOC officer gets 5 years’ probation.”


            A former state corrections officer was sentenced in U. S. District Court to five years probation for his role in a steroid ring among prison guards and for embezzling from a prison recycling program.  The officer, who managed the center that recycled prison trash, and other corrections officials were so consumed with winning softball tournaments that they encouraged players to use steroids.  He was ordered to make restitution to the recycling center in the amount of $34,705.  The defendant is one of six former officers to plead guilty in the steroid investigation.


§         May 31, 2006: Fort Myers News-Press (Florida), “Officer says he pepper-sprayed inmate’s soda.”


            A Lee County corrections officer resigned after an internal investigation began into his conduct at the jail facility at Fort Myers.  The 25 year old corrections officer admitted to internal investigators that he squirted his pepper spray into the soda of an inmate.  According to investigators, he lied about emails he sent, another violation of policy.  It was recommended to the sheriff he be fired, but he resigned before the investigation was completed.


            In all the incidents cited, and assuming what has been reported is accurate, we find ourselves returning to a question frequently asked by Cheryln K. Townsend, President of the National Association of Probation Executives, when confronting aberrant behavior on the part of corrections professionals: “What were they thinking?”  Two possible answers to her rhetorical question that come to mind are: 1) they were not thinking; or 2) they were thinking, but their thinking was governed by a flawed or disconnected value system.


These news reports represent some of the most egregious behavior on the part of persons holding positions of responsibility in the corrections profession, and because most of them involved detected law violations, they found their way into electronic and print media.  But these reports cause us to pause and ask the following questions: 

§         What other violations are occurring that are not subject to media exposure? 


§         Are correctional administrators failing to model and demand ethical behavior within their agencies?


§         Has the culture of our corrections organizations deteriorated to the point that we are now tolerating the intolerable when it comes to staff conduct?


§         And if unethical behavior is prevalent in our organizations – organizations charged with the responsibility of providing public protection – what does this say about us as a profession?

Unfortunately, there exist no empirical answers to these questions.  And without ethical and courageous leadership, the response to the issues raised by these questions will not come easy.

Other Research

            In the April 23, 2006, edition of the Austin American-Statesman, veteran news reporter Mike Ward provides a fairly comprehensive report on arrests of employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  In introducing his story he writes:

It might have seemed like a few tough weeks for Texas’ prison system.  The system’s former gang enforcement chief pleaded guilty to sexually harassing employees.  The personnel chief of the prison school system was arrested after being accused of lewd conduct at a Conroe park.  A human resource official was sought as a fugitive after being charged with killing two pedestrians in an alleged drunken driving hit-and-run.  And three guards were arrested separately, one accused of raping a male convict, another of smuggling marijuana into a prison, and the third of holding his ex-wife hostage at gunpoint.

            According to the reporter’s research, much of which he gleaned from the records of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, during calendar year 2005 a total of 761 prison employees were arrested for a variety of felony and misdemeanor offenses.  And during the first two months of 2006 a total of 148 employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice were arrested.  If this trend continues at the average of 74 arrests per month, the prison system could see close to 900 of its employees arrested during 2006.

            Persons employed in institutional corrections should not feel singled out by this article.  A similar study of this nature was conducted in the fall of 2005 on probation and parole officers with equally disturbing results (Beto and Corbett, 2006).   

Unacceptable Behavior

            While many forms of unacceptable behavior are identified in the news synopses found earlier herein, for the sake of clarity we are providing a list of ethical violations we have found to exist in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems:

§         Crime, generally;

§         Theft, to include submitting fraudulent time sheets and travel reimbursement claims, misapplication of supplies and equipment, and intellectual property violations;

§         Attending conferences as employer’s expense and doing everything but attending workshops;

§         Contract kickbacks and bribery;

§         Trafficking in contraband;

§         Brutality and prisoner abuse;

§         Discrimination due to age, race, ethnicity, gender, and religion;

§         Application of a double standard;

§         Favoritism, bias, and patronage;

§         Violations involving sex, including sexual harassment generally, supervisors sexually harassing subordinates, employees having sex with offenders, and employees having sex with superiors to advance in the organization;

§         Drug and alcohol use and abuse on the job or that which impacts job performance;

§         Laziness;

§         Disloyalty, gossiping, and duplicitous behavior;

§         Failure to report illegal and unethical behavior; and

§         Failure to do the assigned job in accordance with established rules, regulations, and customs, and behavior that is not mission driven.

We readily acknowledge that there may be other forms of unethical or illegal behavior we have failed to identify.  Those that we have listed are those that we have observed most frequently occurring during our combined careers.

Possible Strategies to

Address Unethical Behavior


            In October 2003 we asked a number of relatively new correctional administrators to describe ethical dilemmas they had faced during their career.  In addition, they were asked to identify strategies that might make criminal justice practitioners more ethical.  Their thoughtful responses for suggested strategies, which cover a fairly wide range, are as follows:

§         Teaching morals and values at an early age;

§         Better recruitment and selection;

§         Better pay;

§         A course in ethics required before college graduation;

§         Better education and training;

§         Staff mentoring;

§         Develop an organizational culture that stresses ethical conduct;

§         Rapid and consistent response to ethical violation;

§         Establish clearly defined expectations, with those expectations being modeled by those in authority; and

§         Improved leadership.

Regrettably, a number of the strategies identified are beyond the realm of influence of sheriffs and those charged with administering confinement facilities.  However, those that can be addressed within the agency should be done so with vigor and courage.

            The data we have presented make a compelling case, we think, that ethical violations in the corrections profession are a growing problem. What might an organization do to create a more ethical climate, promote “in character” behavior, and deter and reduce unethical acts?

Taking Ethics Seriously

            There are at least a few important steps that leaders can take so that their organizations can achieve a high ethical standing.  Perhaps most importantly, they can use the “bully pulpit” of their offices to underscore the importance of right actions.  In their communications with staff, they can continually highlight the importance of acting in line with ethical norms.  This may seem like a simple suggestion but, in our experience, correctional leaders seldom strike this theme except in response to a recent scandal.  That is too late – the horse is already out of the barn at that point.

            If it is true, as we believe, that we instruct more effectively by example than by precept, leaders must be scrupulous in their attention to the highest standards in their own behavior.  This will be reflected in how they treat others in the organization, the associations they make in both their public and private lives, their strict adherence to organizational rules (accounting for work time, job-related expenses, use of sick and vacation time, etc.), the manner in which hiring and promotional decisions are made, and even in the language that they use.  We all sense instantly when we are dealing with a person of character – they act in all small and large ways in alignment with a clear set of deeply held values. They are, to use an old-fashioned term, virtuous.

            The manner in which all ethical infractions are handled will send a clear message throughout the organization about the importance of ethical behavior. Major infractions must, of course, result in serious penalties.  We believe, for example, in a “zero tolerance” policy regarding criminal behavior.  Any evidence of even minor criminal activity (i.e., drunk driving) should lead to discharge.  But, more importantly, minor infractions must always result in some administrative sanction.  There must be a rational continuum of sanctions for employee behavior just as there is for offenders under supervision.

            While it can reasonably be questioned whether it is possible to instill character through training, training does have a role to play here.  As one of our colleagues used to say: “I think our training programs might well take up the topic of the Ten Commandments, since some of our staff seem to need a refresher course.”  He had a point.  Such instruction needn’t be in the form of Sunday School but could promote deep and substantive discussion of ethical standards and how they apply to common dilemmas faced by corrections officers.  For example, what is the proper response to the offer of a gift from a relative of a confined offender?  To what extent should an officer spend his/her free time at well known “watering holes,” race tracks, adult entertainment clubs?  What relationships, if any, should correctional officers form with ex-offenders?  What constitutes abuse of sick leave?  What obligation does a correctional officer have to report unethical conduct by a coworker?

An “Ounce of Prevention”

            Perhaps the straightest route to organizational improvement in this area is through more conscientious recruitment.  It is not clear to us that the screening for character before hiring is valued nearly as much as screening for competence.  Surely we want recruits that are properly credentialed and have the appropriate skill set.  But shouldn’t we go further and seek evidence of strong ethical underpinnings?

            How would we screen for character?  At least two strategies come to mind.  First, we should pose more detailed questions to references and inspect prior work histories more carefully regarding the candidates code of conduct. Have there been any instances of dishonesty?  What respect do the candidates hold among colleagues?  How have the candidates responded to challenges or constructive criticisms from supervisors?  How do the candidates address and interact with those confined?  Do they establish firm yet respectful boundaries?

            Secondly, we could pose hypothetical dilemmas to candidates during employment interviews for the purpose of measuring their moral reasoning.   How would they handle an inappropriate approach by an inmate or by a member of the inmate’s family?  Participate in a walk-out or sick-out?  Encouragement from a colleague to join in office gossip?  Evidence that a co-worker is falsifying reports?  The number and type of scenarios employed are limited only by the imagination of those conducting the employment interview.

            We can also take care to put candidates for promotion through a similar ethical screen.  Have they exemplified the highest standards of behavior?  Are they recognized as exemplars of good character by colleagues and others?  Only those with an unblemished record should be seriously considered for promotion.

            Those in corrections have a special obligation – given the nature of the enterprise – to conform to the highest standards of professional and personal behavior.  We cannot hope to put others on the straight and narrow path if we have not faithfully and relentlessly traveled that road ourselves.

            It is time for a period of ethical renewal in corrections.


Assorted news articles and television reports.  All of the articles and news reports referenced in this article were generated from the originating media’s website on the Internet.

            Beto, Dan Richard, and Ronald P. Corbett, Jr.  “Crisis and Response: The Need for Ethical Leadership in Community Corrections,” Executive Exchange, Winter 2006. 

Not Ranked
Points 15
MullinsD replied on Mon, May 21 2007 10:03 AM

S.M. Mahan:

I am not an expert by any means, however, I can provide you with some insight based upon the policies in effect at our county facility in Pennsylvania.  Forgive me if I inject some opinion amidst the facts.  Personal relationships that bloom between correctional personnel (be it an officer, nurse, commissary clerk, kitchen supervisor, etc.) and inmates are detrimental to the security of any facility and should be strictly prohibited.

First and foremost, a Corrections Officer must be a person of integrity beyond reproach.  I am a training officer with experience in teaching Interpersonal Communication Skills, Contraband Control, Suicide Prevention, and Universal Precautions.  I have no background where it pertains to "teaching" integrity, nor do I believe that anyone is capable of instructing an adult on moral behavior.  Although I have a Bachelor's Degree, the majority of my fellow officers possess only a high-school diploma.  In my opinion, the level of formal education has little or no bearing on a person's level of integrity.  Rather than increase your hiring standards along the lines of education, perhaps a Psychological Profile/Evaluation may be helpful in eliminating those candidates with low self-esteem and a high-level need for acceptance.  I would be willing to bet that those officers/staff members involved in impropriety have low self-esteem and great desire for acceptance, thereby making them easily compromised.

That being said, let me offer my suggestions in response to your points above:

1.)  Yes, I believe that a training program should be implemented in an effort to prevent future occurrences of impropriety.  The program should focus on your policies surrounding staff/inmate contact, as well as staff/former-inmate contact.  Naturally, the program will be unable to prevent easily-compromised, or otherwise "dirty" officers from offending, however, it will outline your expectations, and the consequences of violating the policy.  Annual inservice training would be a good time to integrate your "code of ethics," or "code of conduct" policy instruction.

2.)  As I mentioned above, a "Code of Ethics," or "Code of Conduct" policy should be implemented to outline what types of behavior are prohibited.  As well, the policy should clearly convey the consequences of violating the policy (i.e.: termination of employment, criminal charges, etc.).  Our policy addresses everything from mandating respectful interaction with inmates to prohibiting sexual contact with inmates.  Points in between range from prohibiting profane language when dealing with inmates, using discretion in conversations with inmates (i.e.: not discussing personal issues, policy issues, etc.), forbidding displaying favoritism, prohibiting exchanges of gifts/favors, business relationships, etc., and prohibiting contact with former inmates.  One would think that such a policy is unnecessary, and that common-sense would dictate proper conduct.  However in an age where lawsuits for unjust termination are prevalent, expectations and repercussions must be spelled out clearly.

3.)  If the officer to which you refer is currently in his/her probationary period, termination should certainly be in order.  If your policy dictates that a probationary officer may be terminated for any reason (as does ours), then citing the integrity issue and terminating the employee would be justified.

Hopefully, the aforementioned provides you with some ideas as to how to move forward with your dilemma.  I call it a dilemma because when staff and inmates/former inmates engage in intimate & personal interaction, the security of the facility is at great risk.

Wishing you my best,

D Mullins

D. Mullins
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