Information Guide for Contractors
For All Contractors Who Perform Work in a Community Environment
1.0 TABLE OF CONTENTS
2.0 TARGET CLIENTELE FOR THIS MODULE
This module was designed for contractors and/or their employees and/or subcontractors who perform work in the community.
3.0 MODULE METHODOLGY
The information in this module was gathered together from a variety of sources to give you - the contractor - some vital information that will help you arrive at your contractual work location better prepared to work in a CSC institution, facility or government office. These sources include information taken from various orientation training packages designed for CSC staff and volunteers. Sources also include interviews with former CSC contractors who, based on their own personal experiences, had specific ideas about what information would be helpful for new contractors to have in advance before starting contractual work for CSC. This module’s content was then verified by various subject matter experts to ensure that the module included information that was relevant to the work of a new contractor to CSC.
4.0 MODULE OBJECTIVES
By the end of this module, you will be familiar with:
- The definition of a non-institutional environment;
- The offender profile;
- Types of offender contact;
- Security issues within a non-institutional environment;
- The offender code and prison sub-culture;
- Developing professional relationships with offenders and avoiding being manipulated;
- Health risks associated with offenders; and
- Emergency, crisis and conflict management within a non-institutional environment.
5.0 NON-INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT
A non-institutional setting, also referred to as a community correctional environment for the purposes of this module, refers to any facility or work location working with or near offenders who have been released from an institution and are now serving the remainder of their sentences or their long-term supervision orders (LTSOs) in the community. Examples of this kind of correctional environment include a Parole Office, Corcan Industries within the community and Community Residential Facilities (CBRF). It also refers to Regional or National offices or staff colleges.
Note that Community Correctional Centers (CCCs), although designated as minimum-security facilities, are located within the community. 1
5.1 Offender Residences in the Community
When an offender is released to the community and has a condition to reside in a specific place, there are two (2) types of residential facilities available for offenders. An offender may be released to a Community Correctional Center (CCC) or to a Community-Based Residential Facilities (CBRF). CBRFs include more traditional facilities such as CRFs (also referred to as halfway houses), hostels, Private Home Placements (PHPs), and other residential alternatives/options.
5.2 Case Management
Case Management is defined as a process of reintegration of the offender into a law-abiding member of the community. Each offender has a Case Management Team or CMT that consists of the offender and a Parole Officer and potentially other staff such as a psychologist, social worker, employment counsellor, etc. Each member of the team has a specific role to play in assisting the offender to become a law-abiding citizen and to reduce the risk that the offender may pose
The task of the CMT is to gather information about the offender, identify/assess the factors that contributed to the offender’s crime cycle, analyze that information in order to assist the offender to minimize the risk that he/she poses and to assist the offender in safely reintegrating back into society.
This is an ongoing process that starts on the first day the offender is placed in federal custody and continues, with the exception of offenders serving indeterminate or life sentences, until the offender has reached the expiration of their sentence or long-term supervision order. In the case of life or indeterminate sentences, the case management process continues until either the offender’s risk has been minimized or until the offender dies.
5.3 Case Management Components
There are three components to the case management process:
- Reintegration planning;
- Intervention; and
5.3.1 Reintegration Planning
The reintegration process begins on the first day of the offender’s sentence. This process involves conducting the Preliminary Assessment, the Post-Sentence Community Assessment, and the development of a strategy or Correctional Plan for the supervision of the offender throughout their entire sentence. The key activities involved in this component include gathering and analyzing information about the offender and assessing the offender’s level of risk and needs. This determines the appropriate security classification of the offender and their assignment to specific programs that will target the offender’s contributing factors to their criminal behaviour.
Intervention is defined as any activity that may impact the contributing factors and so reduce the offender’s risk or increase their level of reintegration potential. Interventions used in the offender’s case must address the contributing factors defined in the offender’s Correctional Plan. Some intervention strategies include change of thinking or cognitive processes i.e. increased social skills, change in values, and change in acting out behaviours.
There are several intervention vehicles including structured programs/correctional programs, psychological counselling, support groups, employment, and education or vocational training.
When assessing an offender, CSC examines certain factors that have been statistically proven to measure an offender’s risk to re-offend either violently or non-violently, and their risk to escape. CSC uses the three following risk assessment tools in this kind of analysis:(1) Static risk factors, (2) Dynamic risk factors and (3) Contributing risk factors.
- Static risk factors are those factors relating to the offenders past.Past behaviour is important to examine as it has been proven that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. Static risk factors include the offender’s previous history of violence, instability in employment and relationships, physical or psychological indicators such as drug or alcohol abuse or personality disorders, and the offender’s current offence.
- Dynamic risk factors refer to the offender’s values and beliefs. Offender behaviours that are considered socially acceptable will lower the offender’s dynamic risk, whereas negative offender behaviour that is socially unacceptable and/or criminal will raise the offender’s risk. Examples of dynamic risk factors are the offender’s marital status, attitude, employment, and peer association (social vs. anti-social peers).
- Contributing risk factors are those factors that drive or influence the offender’s criminal behaviour. For example, an offender may have a drinking and drug problem, but the offender may only be more prone to committing crimes when on drugs. In this case, drugs would be a contributing risk factor for the offender, whereas alcohol would not. CSC staff is specifically concerned with identifying these needs.
During the intervention phase, there are several key dynamics that contribute to the lowering of an offender’s risk to the public and to their reintegration back into the community. These dynamics include positive influences from a spouse and/or family member, community contact and/or support, support from spiritual or ethnic leaders, support groups both within the institution and within the community, volunteers, and various CSC staff.Such staff could include a psychologist, psychiatrist, nurse, physician, librarian, program delivery officer, shop instructor or work supervisor, and/or various members of the CSC team who have a positive rapport with the offender.
5.3.3 Correctional Programs
Correctional programs play a significant role in the rehabilitation of an offender. There are a number of offender reintegration programs offered at CSC designed to address the various criminogenic needs found in the offender population, there are a number of offender reintegration programs offered at CSC. It is important to note that CSC is recognized around the world for the quality of its programs and their contribution to the safe reintegration of offenders.
Correctional programs are divided into 5 categories:
- correctional programs;
- mental health programs;
- educational programs;
- employability programs; and
- social programs.
The following is a brief definition of each category:
The primary goal of Correctional Programs is to help offenders safely and successfully reintegrate into the community. These programs involve interventions that focus on the many factors that directly contribute to criminal behaviour and include clearly defined objectives, participant selection criteria, a process for evaluating participant progress, and a process for evaluating the effectiveness of the program. Correctional programs are delivered by either program officers or psychologists, who are both trained and qualified.
Mental Health Programs
Mental health programs can be defined as therapeutic interventions that address criminal behaviours and provide for the essential needs of good mental health.
Educational programs help prepare offenders for participation in Correctional Programs and employability programs by increasing their level of education, comprehension and critical thinking to optimize the impact of the interventions. They are offered by certified and trained teachers who have met the requirements of the applicable provincial ministries of education.
Employability programs are interventions aimed at enhancing the job readiness of offenders. Job-readiness training, professional training programs and assignments to institutional employment are considered tools that help to bridge the considerable gaps that have been identified in the area of offender employment. Employability programs play a key role in CSC’s efforts to actively encourage offenders to become law-abiding citizens.
Social programs are interventions that focus on the safe reintegration of offenders. These programs help offenders define pro-social lifestyles so they will be better able to choose to engage in activities that allow them to become productive members of society and law-abiding citizens. Social programs also encourage and reinforce the transfer of skills learned in Correctional Programs.
Decision-making regarding the various forms of offender release refers to the process of preparing and presenting the offender’s case to the decision-maker. The decision maker is either the Parole Board Canada (PBC) or the Warden/Director of the institution, depending on the type of conditional release. Decisions are based on an assessment of the success of intervention strategies in lowering the offender’s level of risk to the point where release to the community or transfer to a lower security is the most appropriate and least restrictive measure of control consistent with the protection of the public, CSC staff and the offender themselves.
6.0 DEFINITIONS OF OFFENDER CONTACT
During your contract term, depending on the location of your work environment, you may come into contact with offenders, either through peripheral contact, casual contact or regular contact:
- Peripheral contact means that while the offender is within sight there is no physical interaction or verbal contact between you and the offender. For example, you may be contracted to do clerical work in an office where an offender is being interviewed in proximity to you.
- Casual contact means that you may come into occasional contact with an offender, where verbal interaction with and/or physical proximity to an offender may occur.
- Regular contact means that you have direct and regular contact with an offender. For example, you may be contracted to deliver a program to an offender in the community or to work or assist in a Community Based Residential Facility.
It is important that you understand the security issues that arise when working with offenders, regardless of whether your contact with them is peripheral, casual or regular.
7.0 SECURITY ISSUES
Working with offenders involves a certain element of risk. As a result, there are certain steadfast rules that must be observed in order to keep your interaction with an offender within professional boundaries and to assist you in guarding your safety, the safety of CSC staff and the public.
7.1 Dynamic Security
Contractors and/or their employees and/or subcontractors working in a correctional environment work in a secure environment where a key focus is dynamic security. Dynamic security can be defined as:
- Any activity that contributes to the safe and secure correctional environment by encouraging constructive relationships and by increasing awareness of factors that contribute to or detract from a safe and secure environment.
Specifically, it also means being alert to safety issues by actively observing, listening to and interacting with offenders. Paying attention, often gives people the opportunity to act in a timely manner to maintain everyone’s safety and well-being.
As a contractor, your contribution to dynamic security adds to that safety. When you pay attention to your environment, sometimes you may see or hear things that you do not expect and that leave you unsure of what to do. Always consult with CSC staff in that situation.
7.2 Security Strategies
Because there is a potential to interact peripherally, casually or directly with an offender in the community, there are some important security rules that you must remember in order to prevent you from placing yourself in a compromising or dangerous position. The following chart outlines some specific strategies you can use to contribute to dynamic security:2
- No matter what your position, part of your contractual work obligations involves contributing to a safe and secure environment. Providing for a safe secure environment allows you to perform your other functions.
- Security is NOT someone else’s job. It is YOUR job.
- Practice professional behaviour.
Observe and report
- Report and/or document anything you may feel is "unusual."
- Constantly be aware of your immediate environment.
- Get to know your offender’s normal/typical behaviour; report unusual behaviours (they might not be significant to you but may be very important to other staff).
Be aware of your environment
- As you move throughout your work environment, use your senses to gather information.
- Your conduct should reflect a professional attitude.
- Fulfill your duties properly. Offenders know who does their job properly and those who do not. They can target those who do not for manipulation.
- Do not run unless absolutely necessary; this behaviour tells staff that something is wrong.
- Tell staff if you have prescription drugs (which are necessary for your own well-being) with you while working with an offender.
- Offenders will gain information about you by the way you dress (professional; don’t care attitude; sexually explicit or inappropriate dress, etc.).
- Wear footwear that is comfortable and lets you move quickly.
- Communicate with each other - pass important information on to others verbally and in writing.
- If you encounter/experience an emergency, get help.
- If a physical altercation breaks out between offenders, get help.
- If you work in an isolated area, use a buddy system to enhance your personal safety.
- If required by your contractual work duties, always wear your personal panic alarm (PPA).
- Park your vehicle in the parking lot and lock all doors.
- Check the inside of your car before entering to ensure that no one is hiding inside..
- Once safely inside, lock the car doors to ensure that no one can open up a door and enter before you drive away.
- Do not leave any valuables or personal information in plain sight within the vehicle.
- Practice good key control - make it a habit
- Keep your keys on your person or lock them in a wall safe.
- Never leave your keys in a door.
- Never give your keys to an offender.
- Don’t "give" your keys to a staff member by throwing them down a hallway like a bowling ball.
- If you have multiple keys, know which key opens which door (you may need to open a door or close a door quickly during an emergency).
- If you misplace your keys, report it immediately. It is important to remember that if your keys are lost, security is compromised.
- Never give or loan tools to offenders that they are not authorized to possess.
- Immediately report missing tools.
Communication with staff
- Wear your PPA (Personal Panic Alarm) at all times if required by your contractual work obligations.
- Test your PPA daily at the start of your shift.
- Know if your PPA is a static or tracking model.
- Know how to use your PPA and/or radio.
- Part of good teamwork is good communications.
- By knowing what other departments do, you are able to pass on information that may be useful to them in performing their roles.
- Be aware of offenders who may be within earshot when discussing personal information or information about another offender.
- Post emergency numbers (i.e. security office, supervisor’s office, etc.) in an easily observed location near your phone.
Communication and relationships with offenders
- Be professional.
- It is important to maintain professional conduct with offenders at all times. It is okay to be friendly during your interactions with offenders. IT IS NOT OK to be friends with an offender. There is a difference. Never enter into a personal relationship with an offender, either platonic or otherwise.
- Do not share personal information with an offender. You do not want to put yourself in a position where the offender knows where you live, where your children go to school, etc. Possession of this information may provide an offender the opportunity to put you in a compromising position.
- Be firm but fair.
- Be consistent (don’t play favourites).
- There is no need to be confrontational (when you are, the offender will likely try to save face by being confrontational in return).
- Acquire and use skills to defuse situations.
- Don’t discuss an offender’s situation or problems with other offenders.
- Be aware that some offenders can read quite well upside down (i.e., while they are talking to you, they are reading the paperwork on your desk).
- Be aware of and alert for manipulative behaviours.
- Avoid bringing anything in or taking anything out for an offender ("nothing in, nothing out") no matter how insignificant it appears to be, unless authorized in writing by appropriate CSC staff.
- Do not accept gifts from offenders or give them tokens of appreciation.
- If an offender tries to influence or threaten you to bring drugs or anything else into your contracted work environment, the offender is testing you or you have already placed yourself in a compromising position. Report this immediately to staff.
- Never give your password(s) to other staff or offenders.
- Don’t write your passwords down or post them on your bulletin board.
- Be aware of offender presence or ability to observe you while you log on to your computer.
- Never leave your office unattended when you have logged on to the system.
- If you leave your office, log off.
- Never let an offender use your computer. No exceptions.
- Lock up your computer disks and memory sticks.
- If you think someone has tampered with your computer equipment, report it to security and IT department immediately.
- Be aware of your office and computer set up. Ensure offenders cannot see (and read) your screen as you work.
- Leave all pieces of electronic equipment (cell phone, Palm Pilots, blackberry, etc.) in your car or a locker (if available) with your other personal effects. If possible, leave them at home.
Static control devices
- Doors serve to control or restrict movement. Never leave your office unattended if offenders are permitted to be in the area.
- A locked door is a secure door.
- If you think your door or lock has been tampered with, report it.
Personal possessions and information
- Do not bring large quantities of cash or valuables into an institution or to your community contractual work environment.
- Do not leave your purse or wallet or any other pieces of personal information where offenders may have access. Lock them up or don’t bring them.
- Decide what personal information you are and are not willing to divulge to an offender. At some point, you need to draw a line.
- Be aware that offenders can gain a great deal of information about you by the pictures/photographs you have in your office, your children's art on the wall, etc. Decide if this is acceptable to you and realize the possible consequences of their knowing.
- Immediately report inappropriate offender conduct (touching you, threatening you, sexual advances, love letters, etc.).
- Information is sensitive. Information is categorized as Protected A, B or C. Observe the precautions for handling, storing and transporting these various classes of information (see module 1 for refresher on this information).
- Be aware of and adhere to CSC policies, routines and procedures.
- Do not do "favours" for offenders no matter how small. Offenders are capable of using ‘favours’ to coerce or manipulate. Do your job, but not favours.
Seek advice or help
- When you don’t know or are unsure of a routine or procedure, ASK a CSC staff member for help.
- Never feel uncomfortable or be afraid to ask a staff member questions or to report any unusual conversations or situations with them. In these situations, an offender may be trying to convey to you some important information, or may be attempting to place you in a compromising position.
By following these security strategies listed above, you will go a long way towards ensuring your own personal protection while working or interacting with offenders.
7.3 Unauthorized items/ Contraband
Offenders in the community often have certain conditions on their conditional release which means that they may be forbidden to own or use certain items. Confirm with the project authority / CSC staff if any items are unauthorized or what constitute contraband in your work environment.
There are two categories of items offenders may ask you to obtain for them. They are referred to as "contraband" and "unauthorized items".
- Contraband includes an intoxicant (such as alcohol), weapons and/or ammunition, an explosive device and/or any of its components, currency, and drugs of any sort. Any item not listed here that could jeopardize the security of the correctional environment or the safety of any person can also be considered contraband.
- Unauthorized items refers to any other item that an offender is either not authorized to have or may be authorized to have but is acquiring or attempting to acquire the item from sources other than approved channels. Unauthorized items include mundane things such as cigarettes and other tobacco products, stamps and writing paper, books and magazines, clothing, jewellery, or junk food. The list of items an offender may ask for is endless. These are just a few examples.
Anyone who is providing or attempting to provide an offender with contraband could receive a criminal record, a prison term, be fined, or receive all three. Any time an item that you provided or are attempting to provide to an offender is classified as contraband or an unauthorized item, it will be taken very seriously and may result in serious consequences.
In the event that you find an offender in possession of an unauthorized item or contraband, contact CSC staff immediately and follow the directions provided to you, even if you cannot determine to whom the item(s) belong.
Note that it is not up to you to decide what is appropriate or not appropriate to provide to the offender. Remember that offenders in the community have the resources to provide things for themselves, or may ask their parole officer to ask for support. Report any such requests made to you by offenders.
8.0 OFFENDER CODE AND PRISON SUB-CULTURE
Even though you may deal with offenders at your contractual work location in the community, offenders are still part of a prison sub-culture. Consequently, they may still follow, at least to some extent, an offender code. The features and dynamics of this sub-culture can be very foreign to most people who have never worked within a correctional setting.
In order to protect yourself as a contracted worker, you need to be aware of the offender code and the prison sub-culture in order to be aware of potential situations that could affect your safety and security and of those around you.
8.1 Prison Sub-Culture3
The prison sub-culture is an unwritten code of conduct that is used by offenders within an institutional setting, much like social norms that informally govern people in the community. The difference with the prison sub-culture is that many of the values and beliefs upon which it is based are actually imported from the "street."
Offenders come to prison with their criminally oriented attitudes, values, associations, social structure, jargon, rules, sanctions, etc. and are usually still influenced - at least partly - by this sub-culture when released into the community.
The visible expression of prison culture varies from day to day, depending on what is happening that day and the internal and external pressures that might exist at any given time. This unwritten code is more apparent in a maximum-security setting, and becomes less noticeable as you progress down to a minimum-security institution or to a non-institutional environment. An offender may not be consciously aware of the code but will adhere to it intuitively.
The prison code includes the following principles in which an offender:
- minds their own business and does not interfere with what other offenders are doing ("does their own time");
- never reports another offender to the authorities for any reason;
- is tough and takes anything that happens to him during their sentence;
- never gets upset when interacting with other offenders;
- treats CSC staff with suspicion, contempt or mere tolerance; and
- always pays their debts (i.e. when an offender owes another offender money, drugs, or services).
In an institution, different ethnic, racial and social groups rarely associate with each other and, in fact, often regard each other with some amount of distrust. Sometimes, however, these groups will interact with each other if it is in the best interest of either group or both of the groups.
8.2 Offender Hierarchy
As noted in the previous section, offenders live by a code of conduct.In each institution, there is also a hierarchy among the offenders that governs the institution. There is usually one or a couple of offenders at the top of the hierarchy known as the leader(s). Their positions are secured by advisors and enforcers who manage the followers and the middle class of offenders. A smaller number of offenders are referred to as the unaligned offenders, followed by the disgraced/ unaccepted/ outsiders and the outcasts.
Each position within the hierarchy reflects different levels of status, power and influence. Also associated with each position are certain rights, privileges, protections, rewards and vulnerabilities. This social structure and the associated norms of conduct influence the type and nature of relationships between offenders.4
A leader is usually an offender who is well connected both within the institution and outside of the institution, and can through their own means acquire commodities through the control of other offenders, or members of the public. Commodities could include drugs, money and weapons, and may also include mundane items that are used for their comfort and for the comfort of their advisors and enforcers.
In order to acquire these commodities, leaders and/or their followers will use any means necessary to manipulate, control or force another individual, usually unaffiliated offenders or outcasts to get the item(s) of their choosing - willingly or otherwise.
Unfortunately, this means that others, including staff and any other person working within an institution or community environment, may be at risk of being manipulated to provide commodities to offenders if they are not aware of how to protect themselves.
9.0 MANIPULATION TACTICS
It is very important when working in a correctional environment to understand the dynamics of offender manipulation and to be alert for manipulative behaviours. Contractors can be vulnerable to manipulation by offenders, particularly if they do not have previous experience in a correctional environment.Even seasoned contractors (those with previous experience) may be vulnerable to manipulation by offenders.
You must be aware of how offenders can manipulate you into doing something that you should not. A good motto to follow is this: If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Let’s now take a look at what manipulation is and how you can protect yourself.
Manipulation is defined as:
- to influence or to manage shrewdly or deviously, especially to one’s own advantage; and
- to use or control by artful or indirect means to one’s own advantage.
Keep in mind that some offenders are exceptionally skilled at manipulation. Moreover, there are several stages of manipulation and it is not always based on a single incident. Manipulation involves a series of steps or stages that can serve as warnings if you are aware of the dynamics of a set-up.
A set-up works because the offender has gathered information about you and uses manipulative techniques that exploit a vulnerability that has been perceived. Vulnerabilities may be physical, emotional, spiritual or financial in origin. It is therefore very important to understand the dynamics of manipulation and recognize what actions you can take to lessen the chances of this happening to you.
9.1 Five Stages of a Set-up
There are five stages that may occur when an offender is trying to manipulate their victim. These are:
- Selection of a Victim,
- Testing the Limits,
- Compromising the Victim and Creation of a Lever, and
- the Sting.
The following chart illustrates these five stages:
THE FIVE STAGES OF A SET-UP
Stage One: Observation
During the observation stage, the offender is observing you - particularly how you interact with staff and other offenders - where he/she tries to pinpoint any vulnerabilities you may have that can be used to their advantage.
Stage Two: Selection of a Victim
In the "Selection of a Victim" stage, the offender gathers and analyzes information about the victim, followed by a discussion of the next course of action with all of the players involved in the set-up.
Stage Three: Testing of The Limits
The third stage is called "Testing of the Limits" and involves one or more offenders who wish to exploit the victim’s vulnerabilities. This stage usually involves progressive steps where first the offender is constantly testing their victim’s vulnerabilities. This is done to see if the offender can place the victim in a compromising position in order to create a "lever" or leverage against the victim.
There are several manipulative mechanisms that an offender will use to try to place you in a compromising position. Here are a few of those mechanisms. (Note that there are variations to these techniques and that this list is by no means exhaustive):
- The Support System: The support system works best in a situation where the victim has a strong desire to be liked by and to like others. The offender will use this system to create a situation where the victim views the offender more as a peer rather than an offender.
- The Sympathy Play: In this technique, the offender is attempting to elicit feelings of pity, compassion or sympathy from the victim. The offender may also use some emotional crisis or experience that the victim recently experienced.
- The Plea for Help: The offender will use this technique if the victim has a strong desire to help others, and will at times combine it with the sympathy play.
- The We/They Syndrome: This technique works best when the offender has perceived the victim’s difficulty in being accepted by the people around them. The offender will attempt to separate the victim from their peers and isolate them from their protection.
- The Offer of Protection: This technique is used in order to create a sense of protection from other offenders. The offender will deliberately set up a scenario where the victim would feel that the protection of the offender would be best.
- Allusions of Sex: This is a probing manipulative technique to see if the victim might entertain further advances such as sexual touching or a sexual act. This technique is usually followed by the touch test.
- The Rumour Mill: This technique is used sole for the purpose of isolating and alienating the victim from their peers in order to make them vulnerable to other forms of manipulation. An offender will start a rumour and then gets staff members to pass it around.
Stage Four: Compromising of the Victim and Creation of a lever
The fourth step is to "Compromise the Victim and Create a Lever". With each successful manipulation, the victim’s actions result in further compromise. Through the process, the victim is asked to progressively break increasingly serious rules, regulations, policies and even the law. The offender will continue to increase their hold on the victim by collecting enough evidence against them until the offender feels that enough has been accomplished to enter into the final stage of the manipulation.
Stage Five: The Sting
The last stage is called "The Sting". Once the offender feels confident that he/she has developed a strong "lever" against the victim, the offender will then expose the set-up and explain the evidence that he/she now has against the victim. The offender will then threaten to expose the victim if their demands are not met. This is usually done in the form of an ultimatum where the offender gives the victim a choice: either the victim complies with the offender’s demands or the victim’s wrong-doing will be exposed, forcing the victim to face the consequences.
9.2 Strategies to Prevent Manipulation
An offender may have various reasons for engaging in manipulative behaviour. What is important is that you are aware of the stages of manipulation, notice the signs and exercise caution.
There are several strategies you can employ in order to discourage any attempt at manipulation:
- Keep your voice firm and non-threatening
- The tone of your voice should reflect confidence
- Your body language should reflect confidence by using a supportive stance but should be non-confrontational
- Avoid nervous body movements such as wringing your hands, crossing & uncrossing your arms, shifting from one foot to the other, etc.
- Make eye contact without staring
- Avoid glancing away or looking down
- Your body and voice must support your verbal message; indicate clearly that you follow the rules and that you are not sorry you do so. Do not show regret or say "I’m sorry."
- Send a clear message:
- Make your message factual without being confrontational or antagonistic
- State that what they are asking for or what they are doing is inappropriate and you will not tolerate it
- Ensure you are sending a clear "NO" message. Avoid phrases such as:
- "I'd like to but I really can't ..."
- "Not now ..."
- "I don't think that it would be right ..."
- "I'm sorry but ..."
- "I'd like to but it is against the rules ..."
- "I'm not allowed to do that ..."
- Use your communication skills to redirect them to appropriate channels (i.e. "No, I won't mail your letter on the way home.You know that it is against the rules.You can put it in the mail in the morning."
- If you think you are being tested, say something. For example, "You know I can’t do that!" perhaps in a slightly incredulous voice. Afterwards, change the subject to an appropriate topic.
- Remember that if you say or do nothing, it is an invitation for more.
- Do not do anything that an offender asks you to do if you know it is against the rules or if it is inappropriate even though there may be no specific rule against it.
- If you are not sure if it is OK to do something, check it out before agreeing and say so: "I’m not sure I can do that; I’ll have to check first with staff."
- Do not discuss your personal problems with an offender and do not allow them to touch you. You can simply say that you do not like people touching you. If an offender does touch you, you need to report this immediately to staff.
- Tell staff about any incident; talk it over with them even if the offender denies it or it seems extremely minor to you.
- If you realize you have done something inappropriate, remember that it is not too late. Alert staff immediately. Yes, there may be consequences for you, but not as serious as what will happen if you do not report the situation promptly to staff.
Always remember that if you feel that you have been set-up or compromised, talk to a CSC representative. If you give in to the offender’s demands, you will only dig yourself in deeper. It is always better for you to alert staff to a situation rather than allow it to continue and only become worse.
9.3 Obtaining Offender Updates
Another strategy for preventing manipulation is to be aware of the current status or emotional state of the offender(s) with whom you are in contact, particularly when you have a close working relationship with an offender.
Consider the following case:
- A psychologist is contracted by CSC to work in a private office. Normally this offender is compliant with his conditional release condition to see the psychologist on a regular basis. However, one day the offender comes in and is extremely angry and agitated and begins to threaten and make demands on the psychologist. The psychologist does not understand this behaviour as it is unexpected and is suddenly placed in a compromising situation.
In this case, the offender’s former guardian with whom he had a positive relationship had suddenly passed away. Had the offender’s parole officer known of the situation and had been able to advise the psychologist in advance, the psychologist would have been in a better position to deal with the emotional state of the offender. However, the lines of communication between CSC staff and contracted workers are not always perfect - in this case, the parole officer may have been overworked, sick, or simply have forgotten to advise the psychologist of the situation.
Contracted workers who work in close proximity to offenders in the community would be wise to develop a system to receive regular updates on the offender in their care before meeting with any offender. This could be accomplished by developing a close relationship with the offender’s parole officer to ensure that any relevant information that might affect the state of the offender’s emotional well-being is passed on to the contracted worker so that he or she is better prepared to deal with any crisis. This information is also vital to assist you the contracted worker to prevent attempted manipulation by the offender.
Regardless of where you are contracted to work in the community, ensure that you work out a system to receive updates on the offenders with whom you are working closely. Talk to the CSC staff that with whom you have contact or your project authority for more information regarding how to best be kept apprised of this valuable information.
10.0 PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH OFFENDERS
In the course of your duties as a contracted worker, you may come into contact with or meet with offenders. In all your interactions with them, CSC expects you to act professionally and respectfully. CSC also requires you to respect offenders’ cultural identity, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and religious beliefs, as well as their fundamental freedoms and rights under the law. Moreover, creating and maintaining professional relationships with offenders will help ensure you protect yourself from compromising situations.
10.1 General Offender Behaviour
In order to maintain a professional relationship with an offender, it is important for you to gain an understanding of some commonalities in offender behaviour. Understanding what they do can assist you in how you interact professionally with them.
Note that all offenders do not fit one definitive profile. That being said, there are some similarities shared by most offenders since prison life will affect an offender's behaviour. The following are some commonalities among offenders that you may find:
- Lack of internal controls i.e. impulsiveness
- Grew up in a disruptive home environment
- Difficulties with learning and usually lacking formal education
- Low self-esteem and may display a helpless attitude
- Lack of marketable work skills and unstable work history
- Rationalization of behaviours
- Lack of adequate problem solving, social, and general life skills
- History of drug or alcohol abuse
- General negative attitude and a value system unique to the criminal subculture
10.2 Understanding the Offender's Frustration and Limitations
Offenders are confined and live with a great deal of frustration and stress in comparison with the general population. For example, offenders have:
- Less opportunity to exercise independence and individuality;
- More pressure to embrace criminal values;
- Less privacy;
- Infrequent change of routine and unchanging scenery;
- Restricted access to relationships and contact with their families and friends;
- Limited visits and calls to loved ones; and
- Restricted access to many goods and services commonly available outside prison.5
Contractors and/or their employees and/or subcontractors who have contact with offenders must understand that the offender is a human being with problems and needs. Often times, an offender did not have access to basic needs such as a stable home environment, self-respect, a sense of belonging or commitment to the community or economic security. In some cases, these deprivations may have provided motivation for the offender’s criminal behaviour.
Being cognisant of these aspects of offender behaviour can help you keep your relationship with offenders more professional. Ensure that you develop personal techniques for maintaining your professionalism, even when faced with negative behaviour on the part of the offender.
11.0 HEALTH ISSUES: RISKS AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES
Most offenders will, at some point in their sentence, be released into the community. Some offenders arrive at a federal institution with physical and psychological conditions that could pose a risk to themselves, staff and others. For example, within the institutions there are some offenders who are considered as being a high risk for infectious disease such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A, B and C, and Tuberculosis (TB). As well, research shows that many offenders have substance abuse problems and some have serious mental disorders that require specialized treatment.
Since the medical history of any offender, either in the institution or in the community falls under the protection of a doctor/patient confidentiality/privilege, it is advisable that you interact with an offender using discretion and by taking all appropriate precautions. Being aware of the institutional environment and the potential risk for health issues that an offender is or may be exposed to, or is afflicted by, will assist you in taking necessary precautions to protect yourself when working with the offender in the community.
The following is an overview of the medical conditions that are most prevalent in the correctional setting:
11.1 Infectious Diseases
Incarcerated men and women are at a higher risk for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases due to high-risk behaviours they may engage in either before they arrive in prison and/or while incarcerated. High-risk behaviours include sharing needles, tattooing and piercing equipment, crack pipes and straws (for snorting drugs) and having unprotected sex. These diseases, which include blood-borne and sexually transmitted infections, are not a threat to people who engage in casual contact with those infected.
Tuberculosis (TB), however, is transmitted through the inhalation of airborne organisms. Shared air space and a large number of people living in a confined location, such as an institutional environment, increases the potential for transmission of this airborne disease.
In some cases, volunteers and contractors must provide documentation of their baseline TB status to CSC prior to starting work in a CSC facility. Further assessment i.e. annual screening, may also be required if these individuals have direct and extended contact with offenders.
Should you wish to discuss health issues in more details as well as how to protect yourself, please speak with a CSC representative or your project authority. They can provide you with specific policies and guidelines about how to prevent exposure to infectious diseases in an institutional environment.
11.2 Mental Disorders
There is a higher rate of mental disorders among prisoners than is found in the general population. Offenders with mental disorders have difficulty adjusting to life in prison. They have a higher risk of suicide or self-injury. They usually require more assistance for successful reintegration as they may need more support services in the community i.e. alternative housing and additional counselling. Unfortunately, there are limited community supports for these offenders and this adversely affects their eligibility for conditional release.
Roughly 19% of the offender population suffers from a mental disorder that may require specialized intervention. Upon entering a CSC facility, offenders are assessed to determine where they should be placed and which treatment they require.
Should you have any questions related to offenders with mental disorders, please speak with a CSC representative.
12.0 EMERGENCY, CRISIS AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
During the course of your contractual term, you may be involved in an emergency or crisis situation that may require conflict management. It is therefore important that you learn the rules and regulations as well as the processes that are used by staff in order to minimize and bring the situation to a safe conclusion. With a clear understanding of the security issues that exist in a correctional environment, you will be able to contribute to the overall safety of yourself, staff and offenders.
12.1 Management of Emergencies
Even though you are working in a non-institutional environment, there are times when emergencies will occur. Some of these situations may be the result of an offender’s actions while others may not. Emergencies can include major or minor disturbances, assaults as well as captive (hostage) and barricade situations. The goal of CSC in responding to emergencies is to:
- Isolate and contain the emergency as soon as possible;
- Ensure personal safety;
- Prevent escapes, where applicable;
- Minimize damage to property;
- Resolve the situation using minimum level of force; and
- Restore order as soon as possible.
CSC staff are trained in crisis management to deal with and respond to various emergencies. During an emergency situation, all contractors must follow the direction of staff and/or stay in their assigned areas until directed otherwise.
When, however, you are dealing with a situation on your own i.e. in the case where you are alone with an offender in a private office or other community environment, there are several strategies you can employ to protect yourself which are outlined in the following section.
12.1.1 Managing fixed point alarms
A fixed point alarm is defined as:
- An alarm unit which is permanently installed in key locations of a facility.
Ask your CSC representative if there is a fixed point alarm established at your contractual work location and where it is located. Use the alarm only in the case of an emergency or if you are required to use it for testing purposes as any press of the alarm will be treated as a genuine emergency.
12.2 Crisis and Conflict Management
Interpersonal conflict is defined asa clash between the interests, values, actions or attitudes of two or more people. Interpersonal conflict is a fact of life and is inevitable.
During your contract term, you may be a witness to or a victim of aggressive and hostile offender behaviour. You must be able to react effectively, while minimizing the risk of injury. It is also very important that you remain calm, whether you are involved in or are a witness to the incident. Furthermore, if you obtain any information or encounter a situation that risks compromising the safety of any person, you have a responsibility to inform staff immediately. In most cases, staff will make every attempt to diffuse the situation.
If you are alone, however, and/or there is no staff in the area, you will be required to diffuse the situation yourself.
If the incident involves an offender who appears to be in crisis to a degree where he has lost all rational thinking, if appropriate you may safely and effectively defuse this behaviour in a professional manner. This requires sound crisis intervention strategies and skills.
Once the emotion is defused, you can begin to manage the conflict underlying this emotional behaviour. Successful conflict management involves the effective use of problem solving skills. Effectively defusing the other person’s emotions increases the chances of enlisting that person as a cooperative partner in the problem solving process.
12.2.1 Stages of the crisis cycle
In order to effectively diffuse a situation, you need to be aware of the various stages of the crisis cycle. When you know what stage of the crisis you are in, it will help you choose a better strategy for diffusing the situation:
Beginning of the defensive stage
- door banging, slamming behaviour;
- negative tone of voice;
- negative verbal comments;
- non-verbal signals of anger;
Deeper into defensive stage - losing rationality
- very heated verbal exchanges;
Defensive stage: challenging
- challenges of authority;
- blaming others;
- verbal and paraverbal signals more aggressive;
Borderline crisis stage
- fight/flight reaction very close;
- non-verbal (body language) signals indicate that this situation could become physical very quickly;
12.2.2 Behaviours that may escalate a situation
Several behaviours must be avoided in order to prevent a crisis from escalating into a physical confrontation.
- Ignoring the offender’s first indications of anger;
- Immediately threatening the offender;
- Failing to listen to what the offender has to say;
- Interrupting the offender;
- Escalating verbal and paraverbal messages;
- Finger pointing;
- Non-verbal signals that are threatening and challenging;
- Losing personal self control, rationality and common sense;
- Invading the offender’s body space;
- Overall strategy of trying to get the offender to do something on the basis that "offenders have to do what they are told to do"; and
- Overall strategy of "forcing" the offender to do something that in turn causes the offender to become more resistant and uncooperative.
12.2.3 Behaviours that effectively defuse crisis situations
Should you encounter an offender entering or in the crisis stage, there are several strategies to employ that can help calm the offender down as well as reduce the possibility of a physical encounter:
- Using safe distance and a supportive stance;
- Using verbal intervention to defuse a verbal confrontation;
- Avoiding unnecessary physical contact or handling;
- When setting limits, phrasing the limits in such a manner that the consequences of continuing to be verbally loud and aggressive are clear AND the consequences of the offender ceasing this behaviour are clear and much more acceptable;
- Setting limits on the offender’s behaviour in a non-threatening manner;
- Allowing the offender to make the choice as to whether s/he will become less aggressive and loud;
- Demonstrating good listening skills (physical and verbal attending, mirroring, paraphrasing, and summarizing);
- Modeling appropriate behaviour (i.e. verbal, paraverbal and non-verbal messages are all acceptable examples of a normal conversation);
- Removing the offender from the source of conflict or anger, if possible.For example, if the offender is angry with a person in the room, remove the offender from that person’s presence; and
- Listening to the offender. Ask the offender to explain why they are angry and be non-judgemental in the process.
12.3 Hostage-taking and forcible confinement
Hostage-taking can occur in either an institutional or community environment. Although it is a relatively rare occurrence, it is important to know what to do in the event that hostage-taking occurs. To prepare you, this section will provide you with an overview of how to apply preventative strategies to decrease the risk of hostage taking and forcible confinement as well as how to apply effective survival behaviours appropriate to a hostage taking and to a forcible confinement.
12.3.1 Motivations for hostage-taking and for forcible confinement
There are many reasons why an offender may wish to take someone hostage, but some of the main reasons are:
- A desire to escape or gain freedom for the taker or for fellow offenders;
- A desire for recognition, attention, thrill seeking; and/or
- A desire to implement some change, promote some cause.
12.3.2 Key survival strategies if taken hostage
If you are taken hostage, it is important that you do the following:
- Avoid resistance;
- Avoid sudden movements, gestures, loud noises;
- Be cooperative, follow orders;
- Reflect calmness;
- Reduce anxiety in the hostage taker(s);
- If the opportunity for communication occurs, speak lower and slower than the hostage taker(s);
- Watch the effects of your actions. Avoid actions that antagonize the offender;
- Be seen as a human being (i.e., it is okay to say you are scared, tired, hungry, etc.);
- If the hostage taker(s) provides the opportunity to establish dialogue, take it;
- Try to develop a rapport with the hostage taker;
- Do not attempt to escape unless you are convinced that the attempt will succeed;
- Inform the hostage taker if you have serious medical problems or require medication;
- Try to stay together with other hostages;
- Try to stay in one spot if possible; and
- Be honest, don’t lie. Getting caught in a lie will only antagonize the hostage taker.
Being aware of these strategies could help save your life should you ever find yourself in the position of being taken hostage.
12.3.3 Preventing forcible confinement and possible sexual assault
Forcible confinement for sexual purposes is a different situation from being taken hostage. Where an offender has forcibly confined someone for sexual purposes, the following key information usually plays a role:
- Usually no substantive demands are being given by the offender;
- Any demands given appear spontaneous i.e. spur of the moment;
- The offender may have been charged with sexual assault against women;
- The offender has a history of violence against women;
- The offender fits the profile of an offender who confines for sexual purposes.
Research shows that sexual assault normally occurs within the first 20 minutes of a forcible confinement if the motivation is sexual. The goal of CSC is to resolve the incident before the offender assaults and/or is able to sexually assault again.
12.3.4 Profile of an offender who forcibly confines for sexual purposes
Offenders who forcibly confine victims for sexual purposes often - but not always - fit into the following profile:
- Sexual offence history against adult women on record
- History of violent aggression against women
- May have unlawfully confined or sexually assaulted in a secure setting
- Serving a lengthy sentence(no imminent release)
- May be receiving or trying to receive medication or treatment to reduce sex drive
- Evidence of current stressors (recent detention, parole denial, etc.)
- Evidence of pre-planning may exist (targeting the victim)
- Male, 30-50 years of age
It is advisable to exercise extra caution when working with offenders who fit this profile.
12.3.5 Strategies to avoid being forcibly confined for sexual purposes
The sexual assault of a community staff member is a rare phenomenon committed by a small minority of offenders. However, even one such assault can have devastating impacts.
Should you find yourself in a position where you fear that an offender is attempting to forcibly confine you for sexual purposes, there are several strategies you can employ to prevent the forcible confinement from occurring. These are:
- Being aware of the presence/location of other staff;
- Following security procedures;
- Doing your job properly;
- Being aware that other staff are doing their job properly (i.e. searches);
- Knowing where the fixed point alarm or panic buttons are;
- Arranging your office so that you do not trap yourself in the room (if possible);
- Backing up other staff in monitoring offender activity;
- Reporting unusual offender activity (stalking behaviours, love letters, inappropriate conduct, etc.);
- Being alert to unusual offender behaviour;
- Not letting offenders into unauthorized areas;
- Not letting offenders manipulate you into not following proper security procedures;
- Not dealing with offenders who are extremely agitated by yourself. In such situations, obtain staff back-up;
- Summoning help at the first signs of trouble, or going to where other staff are located;
- Making noise (especially if the offender closes and locks the door shut);
- If you feel threatened, summoning staff;
- If you work in an isolated area, becoming informed of the profile of offenders who work in your area. Talking to the parole officer;
- Being security conscious at all times;
- Setting limits or terminating the session with the offender when they try to physically touch you;
- Continuing to work with the offender only AFTER advising CSC Staff of your concerns about the offender’s emotional state;
- Requesting other CSC staff or contracted workers to periodically check on you;
- Communicating your concerns with other staff at the time;
- Using the presence of other staff/contracted workers to terminate the interview as you now have “back-up”;
- If the situation becomes volatile and you do not have access to a PPA or fixed point alarm, not hesitating to use the phone; and
- Using the desk or other equipment as a barrier to buy time while you make noise to alert staff to the problem – do not try to barge past the offender as that may give them the opportunity to take control of your person.
These are examples of some actions and behaviours that can be taken that may reduce the risk of being forcibly confined. Moreover, it is important to remember that as long as the offender does not have control of you, there may be opportunities for more active resistance (making noise or calling out to gain attention, pressing PPA, using the phone, etc.).
12.3.6 Survival behaviours to employ if you are forcibly confined
If you are forcibly confined for sexual purposes, in order to prevent being further harmed or re-assaulted, there are some strategies you can employ while waiting for help or an opportunity to escape. These are:
- Keeping your voice and body language predominately calm;
- Keeping yourbody language non-aggressive, non-threatening;
- Attempting to humanize yourself,
- Not verbalizing your anger (i.e. purposely provoking the offender);
- Trying to develop rapport andempathy with the offender;
- Making eye contact with the offender;
- Making requests infrequently and quietly;
- Speaking softly;
- Staying away from topics which increase emotions; and
- Trying to reason with and gain sympathy from the offender (i.e., saying you have kids that need picking up at the day care).
If you are being threatened with a knife or weapon, however, there are some difficult choices you may have to make. For example, if the offender is threatening you with a knife, you will have to make a personal choice:
- offer no resistance in order to prevent being cut or injured; or
- offer resistance to prevent being raped.
If the offender does not have the knife or is not physically in control of you, however, you can be more flexible in your response, i.e. you can yell, scream, use the desk as a barrier, use something as a weapon to defend yourself, try to talk the offender out of their intentions, etc.
If the sexual assault is imminent, give the offender the clear message that you do not want to be assaulted. Changing the subject, e.g. asking for water, cigarette, toilet, crying, fainting or fighting may all be options depending on the circumstances.
12.3.7 When help arrives
When help arrives, it is suggested that you drop to the ground where you are, and not to run or seek a hiding place.
Remember that prevention is your best defense.
12.3.8 After it is over
Survivors of hostage-taking and forcible confinement may experience a number of symptoms after the fact. These can include:
- Sleep disturbance;
- Feelings of powerlessness;
- Feelings of isolation; and/or
Often survivors experience a multitude of these symptoms. However, many survivors return to work within a few weeks and most by about 12 months.
Return to psychological health can be augmented by having supportive family, friends, co-workers and administration.It is also useful to know that CSC has a critical incident debriefing policy, and that employees and contractual workers can take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which provides free short-term counselling services for a variety of issues as well as referrals for longer term counselling. These services are also available for immediate family (i.e. spouses and children) of staff and contracted workers.
Remember: Anytime you are involved in an emergency, crisis or conflict situation, seek help from a staff member or inform a staff member as soon as possible.
13.0 GENERAL TIPS TO REMEMBER
- Pay attention to your surroundings.If you hear or see something that is out of the ordinary, advise staff.
- Your judgement when dealing with an offender is vital to your safety and to those around you.
- Some offenders are constantly checking to see if you can be manipulated. Be aware of the signs and deal with the situation appropriately.
- Print out the list of security strategies listed in this module and review them periodically.
- Practice professional behaviour.
- Dress professionally and with comfortable footwear.
- Know where your keys are at all times.
- Know where your tools are at all times.
- Never give out your passwords.
- Always log off your computer when not in use.
- Always lock doors and never leave your office unlocked if unattended.
- Do not bring large quantities of cash or valuables to your work environment.
- Do not bring anything in or out for an offender, especially contraband or unauthorized items.
- Report any inappropriate offender conduct.
- Observe the precautions for information that is categorized as Protected A, B or C.
- Understand the prison sub-culture.
- Employ strategies to prevent manipulation by offenders.
- Know what to do in case of a crisis or emergency.
- Wear your PPA if applicable or know where panic buttons are located.
- Remember that dynamic security is everyone’s job.
- Learn to recognize the 5 stages of a set-up.
- Develop strategies to deal with attempted manipulation by offenders.
- Keep up-to-date with changes that occur with offenders with whom you will be in close contact.
- Talk to a CSC representative anytime you feel an offender has tried to manipulate you, or if you feel you have done something inappropriate.Stop the manipulation before it advances beyond your control.
- Communicate with staff/other team members.
- Acquire skills to diffuse situations.
- Work with CSC staff to receive updates on prisoners with whom you may be working.
Professional Relationships with Offenders
- Establish appropriate boundaries with offenders.
- Act in a professional and respectful manner.
- Understand frustrations that offenders have - this may help you deal more professionally with them.
- Be respectful of diversity among offenders.
- Do not make "friends" with offenders.
- Do not discuss one offender with other offenders.
- Do not divulge personal information to an offender.
- Be aware of potential health risks and take the necessary precautions.
- Learn about protocols regarding health issues in an institution.
- Talk to your CSC representative about any concerns you have regarding health issues such as infectious disease or working with offenders with mental health disorders.
- If you are a witness to a crisis or emergency situation, remain calm and take direction from CSC staff.If you are not asked to assist in the situation, do not interfere.
- If you are the victim of a crisis or emergency situation, remain calm.Take direction from staff if present, and do not interfere unless told to do so.
- If you are alone during the crisis or emergency situation, you must effectively and safely diffuse the situation yourself.Once you have safely diffused the situation, you must advise staff as soon as possible.
Seek advice or help
- Be aware of and adhere to CSC policy, routines and procedures.
- When you do not know or are unsure of a routine or procedure, ask a CSC Representative or an experienced staff member for help.A CSC staff member will be glad to help you.
1 Please refer to Module 1, section 6.6 for a description of these and other CSC community environments.
2 Note that this list contains only a few points of consideration and is by no means exhaustive.Your judgement when dealing with offenders in the community is vital to ensure the safety and security of yourself, the environment you work in, the staff around you and the public.Address any questions or concerns to your CSC representative, project authority, or senior CSC staff.
3 For a more detailed description of the prison sub-culture, please refer to Module 3.
4 If you wish to learn more about the prison hierarchy and how this affects the everyday operations of an institution, you are encouraged to read module 3 which outlines this hierarchy in more detail for those contracted workers working in an institutional environment.For the purposes of this module, however, only a general overview will be discussed.
5 Although this list applies more to offenders in institutions, some of the same constraints still apply to offenders in the community, particularly if they are living in a CCC or have strict conditional release conditions.