Information Guide for Contractors
For All Contractors Who Perform Work in an Institutional Environment
2.0 TARGET CLIENTELE OF THIS MODULE
This module was designed for all contractors and/or their employees and/or subcontractors who perform work in an institutional environment.
3.0 MODULE METHODOLOGY
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 contractor new to CSC.
4.0 MODULE OBJECTIVES
By the end of this module, you will be familiar with:
- A definition of institutional environments, including institutional routines and structures;
- The offender profile;
- Types of offender contact;
- Security issues and strategies in an institution;
- 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 an institutional environment.
5.0 INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT
An institutional environment refers to any federal institution, penitentiary that houses offenders who are currently serving a sentence of 2 years or more. Federal institutions include all levels of security, from a Special Handling Unit (SHU), to multi-level, maximum, medium and minimum security facilities.
Each facility has its own unique set of routines and policies - however, all must operate within the policies and procedures that govern the Correctional Service of Canada.1
5.1 Institutional Structure
An institution can be compared to a mini-community as it contains living quarters for offenders (cells or rooms), a kitchen, a hospital, work locations, a store (canteen), one or more churches, one or more family units (for Private Family Visits), a large yard, a gym, and a library. Some institutions have "micro"-communities within an institution where offenders have their own living quarters and share a kitchen, living room and bathroom with 8 to 10 other offenders. In those settings, offenders are required to cooperatively work with the other offenders on the unit for meal preparation and cleanliness of the living area.
Some institutions are located within other institutions and will share services. For example, the Regional Treatment Center in the Ontario Region is within the structure of Kingston Penitentiary (KP). The Regional Treatment Center is a stand alone institution but shares services with KP for meal preparation, clothing issues, some hospital or medical issues, and at set times, allows access to its large yard when not in use by KP offenders.
Each institution has a perimeter structure. Maximum and medium security institutions have either walls or double fences surrounding the perimeter, along with razor wire, motion detector systems and cameras to deter escapes. These facilities are usually secured by manned towers and monitored by vehicle patrols, as well as a Main Communications and Control Post (MCCP) from which motion detector systems, cameras and radios are operated.
Minimum security facilities are structured to resemble a more conventional community setting, allowing offenders more freedom to come and go from the grounds with permission..
5.2 Institiutional Routine
Each institution has a routine that governs an offender’s day. There are two basic day routines - one for the weekday and one for the weekend. The evening routines for both weekday and weekend, including holidays, remain the same.
The following is a general example of what you can expect regarding an institution’s routine. Keep in mind, however, that times and routine structures will vary from institution to institution and across institutional security levels. Offenders are expected to adhere to the established routine of their institution as well as any routine changes that may occur.
5.2.1 Daytime Routine (Monday to Friday)
The following is a general example of the normal daytime routine between Mondays and Fridays:
|06:00||Early kitchen workers proceed to the kitchen|
|07:00||Cells are unlocked and breakfast is announced|
|07:10||Diabetics are allowed access to the Health Care Department|
|07:40||Offenders who need medicine are allowed to go to health care to pick up their medication.|
|08:00||"Work-up" is announced - offenders go to their school or work programs; offenders who are not working, excused from duty or are unemployed will be locked in their cells|
|08:00||All cell doors are locked, except those permitted to remain open|
|10:30||Cells are unlocked|
|11:20||Offenders return from their work location|
|12:00||Offenders are counted|
|12:15||Once the count has been verified, lunch is announced|
|13:00||Work-up is announced - offenders not working, excused
from duty or are unemployed will be locked in their cell
|15:30||Cells are unlocked|
|16:00||Offenders are counted|
|16:15||Once the count has been verified, dinner is announced|
5.2.2 Evening Routine (Monday to Friday)
During the evening routine, offenders have the option of remaining in their cells or proceeding to the yard or gymnasium, library, evening programs or other permitted activities by way of change-overs / movement.
A change-over / movement is the process where the cells are unlocked at various intervals permitting offenders to move from the recreational areas back to their cells and vice-versa. Once lock-up has been called, the offender must remain at that location until the next change-over / movement.
At 22:00 hours, the yard is cleared and at 22:30 hours, the gymnasium and any recreational, program or offender office location(s) is cleared. At 23:00 hours, the final count of the day is called and all offenders are secured in their cells for the night.
5.2.3 Weekend and Holiday Routine
The following is a general example of a typical weekend or holiday institutional routine:
|07:00||Cells are unlocked and breakfast is announced|
|08:00||Recreational activities begin - offenders are permitted to move from their cells to the recreational activities, either to the yard or to the gym; offender movement is governed by change-overs / movements|
|12:00||Offenders are counted|
|12:15||Lunch is announced once the noon count has been certified correct|
|13:00||Recreational activities and movement to recreational areas begin, governed by change-overs / movements|
|16:00||Offenders are counted|
|16:15||Dinner is announced once the count has been certified correct|
Note that the movement of offenders is strictly controlled in a Special Handling Unit (SHU) - however, movement of offenders becomes less controlled the lower the security level of the institution or community center.
5.3 Institutional Counts
There are 3 types of counts: formal, informal and CCCcounts.
A formal count is a process where an offender is assessed as alive and well. During a formal count, an offender is usually counted in his/her cell - this applies to maximum, medium and multi-level security institutions. At minimum institutions and with institutions with bedrooms instead of cells, the offenders do not have to be in their cells, but must be visible and remain in place during the count.
There are 4 formal counts per day as well as one "stand-to" count. A stand-to count is a count where the offender must be in his/her cell, in a standing position, facing the officer for facial identification and to ensure that the offender is alive and breathing.
Most institutions will have formal counts at 00:00, 05:00, 12:00, 16:00 and 23:00. Stand-to counts are either at 12:00 or 16:00. These hours may vary depending on the internal routine of the institution.
An informal count is a process where offenders are counted individually without interference in their activities. Informal counts are usually done during walks i.e. an officer or staff member enters a range or work location and checks to see that the area is in good order as well as counts the number of offenders in that area. During an informal count, offenders could be doing a range of activities such as sleeping, working, exercising, etc.
A CCC count is a process used in a Community Correction Center where a sign-in sheet is used to count the offenders. Unlike formal counts, a CCC count does not require that all residents be counted at the same time. As long as the offenders’ whereabouts are known i.e. at work, in the community or in the center, the count can be completed.
5.4 Offender Dress
During work hours, offenders are required to wear regulation dress. The following is a list of standard issue institutional clothing that the offender may wear at any given time during the work day (the items available may vary at each institution):
- institutional blue jeans;
- belt (institutional head to decide if offenders are to be issued belts);
- institutional golf shirts (red, blue);
- white t-shirt or white undershirt (sometimes worn under golf shirt);
- institutional parka or jacket (depending on the weather);
- institutional green coveralls (to be left in work area);
- institutional white clothing (kitchen/hospital workers);
- leisure shoes, or running shoes; and
- work boots (must be authorized and must remain in the work location)
During leisure hours, offenders are permitted to wear their own personal clothing. Note that women offenders are permitted to wear approved personal clothing within the institution in lieu of institutionally issued clothing during both work and leisure hours.
5.5 Offender Profiles
The offender population is comprised of offenders serving their first federal sentence, long time offenders and "recidivist" offenders i.e. offenders who have been in the federal correctional environment more then once as a result of more than one sentence.
In federal institutions, offenders could be serving sentences from two years plus one day to life sentences. Offender offences range from minor offences, break and enter, assault, possession of drugs, to more serious offences such as manslaughter or murder.
The following information is provided to give you an idea of this unique community setting. However, this population is ever changing. CSC is now faced with both an aging offender population and an influx of younger offenders who are continually challenging authority, whether it be the correctional system or the traditional offender hierarchy. Some of these offenders also arrive in the institution with substance abuse problems, physical problems and/or mental health issues.2
5.6 Case Management
Case Management is defined as a process of reintegration of the offender into society as a law-abiding member of the community. Every offender has a Case Management Team or CMT that consists of the offender, a Correctional Officer / Primary Worker and a Parole Officer. 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 to the public.
The task of the CMT is to gather information about the offender, identify 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 the offender dies.
5.6.1 Case Management Components
There are three components to the case management process:
- Reintegration planning;
- Intervention; and
18.104.22.168 Reintegration planning
The reintegration process begins on the first day of the offender’s sentence. This process involves the development of a strategy or Correctional Plan for the supervision of the offender throughout his/her 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. This determines the appropriate security classification of the offender and his/her assignment to specific programs that will target factors that contribute to criminal behaviour.
Intervention is defined as any activity that may impact the contributing factors and so reduce the offender’s risk or increase his/her 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/core 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 both an offender’s risk to re-offend, either violently or non-violently, and his/her risk of escaping. 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 his/her 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.
22.214.171.124 Correctional Interventions
Correctional interventions 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. 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 interventions 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:
- Correctional Programs
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 essential needs of good mental health.
- Educational Programs
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
Employability programs are interventions aimed at enhancing the job readiness of offenders. Job-readiness training, the 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
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 will 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.
126.96.36.199 Decision making
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 of Canada (PBC) (for parole or statutory release decisions) or the Warden/Director of the institution (for short term absences). 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 appropriate and least restrictive measure of control consistent with the protection of the public, CSC staff and the offender him/herself.
6.0 DEFINITIONS OF OFFENDER CONTACT
During your contract term, depending on the type of institution that you are working in, you will come into contact with offenders either through peripheral, casual or even regular and direct contact.
Peripheral contact means that while the offender is within sight but that there is no physical interaction or verbal contact between you and the offender. For example, you may be contracted to do clerical work in the administration building, and an offender is within sight of you; however, the distance between you and he/she makes conversation unlikely.
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. For example, you may be working in the administrative building and the cleanliness of the area is being maintained by an offender. He/She may come into your work location and remove the garbage, sweep the floors, etc.
Regular contact means that you have direct and/or regular contact with an offender. For example, you might be a teacher providing instruction and guidance to an offender pursuing his scholastic education or you may be contracted to facilitate a program to offenders.
It is important that you understand the security challenges that are an inevitable part of your environment when you work in an institution regardless of your level of contact with offenders.
7.0 SECURITY ISSUES
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 working in an institution 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 staff 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 the overall safety of the institution. When you pay attention to your environment, you may see or hear things that you do not expect and leave you unsure of what to do. Always consult CSC staff in this situation.
7.2 Security Strategies
Because you will interact peripherally, casually or directly with offenders in an institution, there are some important security strategies that you must employ 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: 3
|GENERAL AREAS||SPECIFIC TIPS|
|Observe and report||
|Be aware of your environment||
|Communication with staff||
|Communication and relationships with offenders||
|Static control devices||
|Personal possessions and information||
|Seek advice or help||
By following these security strategies listed above, you will go a long way towards ensuring your own personal protection while working with offenders.
7.3 Unauthorized Items/ Contraband
Offenders have limited access to goods in an institution and will go to great lengths to try and obtain them. These goods are very desirable commodities in an institution and can be used as currency in the institution’s "black market."
One way that offenders try to get items that they want but are not supposed to have is by asking you to provide them. It is important that you understand the classification of these items as well as the negative consequences for you if you give in to an offender’s demands.
There are two categories of items that offenders may ask you to bring in for them. They are referred to as contraband and unauthorized item:
- 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 refer 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. Anytime 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.
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 institutions have limited resources for a reason and are supposed to obtain items through appropriate means. Asking you to provide something for an offender is not appropriate under any circumstances. Report any such requests made to you by offenders.
8.0 OFFENDER CODE AND PRISION SUB-CULTURE
Offenders in any institution are part of a prison sub-culture and follow an offender code of conduct. 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 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-Culture
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 his/her own business and does not interfere with what other offenders are doing;
- never reports another offender’s business to authorities for any reason;
- is tough and takes anything that happens to him during his sentence;
- never gets upset when interacting with other offenders;
- treats CSC staff with suspicion, contempt or mere tolerance;
- always pays his/her debts (i.e. when an offender owes another offender money, drugs, or services).
- does not steal from other offenders;
- does not go into another offender’s cell without permission;
- does not break his word to other offenders;
- never asks someone what they are serving time for;
- does not get staff to solve his/her problems; and
- does not associate with outcasts.
Breaking any of these rules could have dire consequences. For example, the offender could:
- find himself/herself at the bottom of the hierarchy;
- be placed in segregation for his/her own protection; or
- find his or her life in danger which could result in injuries, assaults and even death.
The code also cautions offenders to be wary of those with whom they associate. For example, offenders learn in the prison sub-culture to:
- not divulge personal information to anyone;
- stay away from someone that cannot be trusted; and
- if someone is found that can be trusted, to stick with them.
Due to the new influx of young offenders, however, the old code of conduct is not as strictly enforced - consequently, many of the rules of the offender code today tend to be paid mainly "lip service." In today’s prison environment, therefore, the code of today does not have to be followed as much as it must appear to be followed. For example, an offender may be hostile or quarrelsome with CSC staff in front of other offenders, but may be pleasant with staff while on an outside escort. An offender is always concerned with his or her "joint image" and "saving face" when around peers.
Offenders will, however, violate the code if it is in their best interests. For example, an offender who is caught with narcotics may volunteer information on the drug trade and institutional drug dealers in order to avoid punishment or obtain some type of preferential treatment. In this case, an offender violated the code ("don't rat on another offender") because it was in his/her best interest.
In contrast, other offenders follow the code without fail. It is easy to identify this group of offenders because they resist attempts by staff to establish any type of positive rapport and as a result may be antagonistic and disruptive.
8.2 Offender Hierarchy 4
Within each institution, there is a unique offender hierarchy. This hierarchy exists in spite of CSC’s efforts and strategies aimed at eliminating its negative criminal influences. Every offender fits somewhere within the social structure. This structure is a system of social organization and control that establishes behavioural expectations for the offender population. The hierarchy also sanctions punishments for those who violate the accepted norms and rules of behaviour. The hierarchy helps define a person's identity (voluntary or not) within the offender population.
For the most part, the sub-culture that develops inside a prison is actually imported from the "street." Offenders come to prison with their criminally oriented attitudes, values, associations, social structure, jargon, rules and sanctions. The prison sub-culture or social system is actually a logical extension of offenders’ lives in the community. Once inside, criminally oriented offendersattempt to establish and perpetuate an infrastructure that supports their needs, values and attitudes.
The social structure and hierarchy that is developed, accepted and reinforced is the one that best meets the needs, interests and values of the membership, particularly those members who hold power and influence.
The offender hierarchy consists of the following, by order of importance:
- Advisors and Enforcers;
- Followers and offender middle-class;
- Unaligned offenders;
- Disgraced/unaccepted/outsiders; and
The following is a description of the roles of each of these types of people in the offender hierarchy:
At the top of the hierarchy are usually one (1) and sometimes two (2) or more offenders who are the strongest in terms of influence or power. These leaders are usually offenders who are key players in the overall control of the offender population and economy. On occasion, a combination of the most dominant leaders may result in an alliance of power. These powerful people are seldom a problem for staff because they have their followers who take all the risks associated with any criminal activities. The leaders present the appearance of compliance with institutional regulations and tend to avoid unnecessary confrontations with staff.
8.2.2 Advisors & Enforcers
Beneath the leaders are the support groups for the leader(s). They are comprised of advisors and enforcers. The advisors help maintain and organize criminal activities between those in prison and those "on the street." They may simply be skilled manipulators who can organize and control followers. The enforcers, for the most part, are those offenders who use intimidation and violence to achieve the goals of the leader.
8.2.3 Followers/Middle Class
The followers and the middle class tend to make up the bulk of the offender population. They usually comply with the basic rules of the institution and will go along with participating in correctional programming to varying degrees in order to take advantage of conditional release opportunities. To avoid formal disciplinary sanctions, members of this group will usually behave so as not to deliberately attract attention to themselves.
Offenders from this group are usually the consumers who are the driving force for the underground economy. Some of its members may also sometimes play minor roles in the activities of the leaders (i.e. running drugs, watching others, holding or hiding weapons for enforcers, watching out for CSC staff).
8.2.4 Unaligned Offenders
Various types of offenders find themselves in this hierarchical position. This group includes new offenders who may not be aware of the social structure and rules. Consequently, they are often a target of exploitation, particularly by offenders who are higher in the social structure.
Young, tough and violent offenders looking for a group with whom to associate usually fall into this category. They are less vulnerable to exploitation or victimization because of their behaviour. Another component of this group is comprised of the loners who may pay to be left alone, as well as the older offenders who have "matured out" but still have sufficient power, reputation or status to permit them to remain on the sidelines.
Offenders who fall into this category include those who have broken the "code" or unwritten rules of the prison sub-culture or those who have served as informants for staff. Additionally, offenders who are perceived as associating too closely with staff and those offenders who are mentally challenged or have special needs often fall into this position in the hierarchy.
In general, this group consists of unaccepted, disgraced and/or different offenders. They are ostracized by the general offender population and have no power or meaningful status. Consequently, they are the most victimized and exploited group of offenders.
At the very bottom of the hierarchy are the outcasts. This group is rarely or only temporarily encountered in open population and can usually be found in protective custody for their own protection. This group usually consists of offenders serving time for unacceptable crimes i.e. infanticide or infant murder, sexual assault of children/child molestation, repeat violators of the offender code, and former law enforcement officers. An offender who wishes to enhance their status or position within the hierarchy may be able to do so by injuring or killing one of these outcast members.
8.3 Hierarchy Dynamics
Many factors affect a person’s relative position in the hierarchy. Rank is not permanent. All offenders can gain or lose status based on their behaviour while in the institution. Certain actions, behaviours or factors are perceived by the rest of the population, especially the leaders, as being status enhancing or status reducing.
8.3.1 Status Enhancing Actions, Behaviours or Factors
There are several factors that can enhance an offender’s status in an institution. These are:
- Gang or underworld affiliation on the street: Imported power and status because of prior reputation, position within organized crime in the community, and/or valuable connections for obtaining drugs or weapons.
- Incarcerated for a sensational crime: Imported reputation and potential status. An offender who has committed a violent offence comes to the institution with the reputation of someone who is not afraid to use violence. Murder of a police officer carries a special status. Offenders serving a life sentence are usually afforded a higher status within the institution because of the nature of their crime.
- Ability to supply items demanded by the prison population: Most offenders want to make prison as easy and enjoyable as possible. Often, the general population demands goods and services that are normally denied by institutional rules. Offenders who have the connections to supply goods and services that are difficult to acquire enjoy significant power, influence and position within the institutional hierarchy.
- The ability to have narcotics brought into the institution: Those participating in the drug trade can acquire a great deal of power. Offenders who can supply this product earn a high position on the social ladder. Drug dealing is extremely profitable allowing drug dealers to buy position and status.
- Having served time in prison before: Offenders who have served prior terms of incarceration and have proven themselves as "solid cons" will be able to move into higher positions within the hierarchy more rapidly than someone coming into the institution for the first time.
- Having the willingness and physical size and/or skill to use extreme violence: Status and power are afforded to those offenders who have demonstrated their ability and willingness to use violence. The power of a leader, enforcer, or gang comes from the fear that can be instilled in the rest of the population. Offenders who are not afraid to use force quickly establish a reputation and gain status in the eyes of most of the population. Furthermore, the ability and willingness to use violence is a marketable commodity that is a useful service to a number of powerful individuals within the institution.
- Possessing ethnic, cultural or spiritual status in the community: If an institution has a high percentage of the offender population of a particular ethnic, cultural or spiritual background, an offender who has significant power or status within that ethnic, cultural or spiritual group in the community may gain higher status within the institution (i.e. Jamaican, Islamic or Aboriginal leader).
- Possession of status symbol items: Goods and services within the institution take on a symbolic value far in excess of the true value of the item. The more difficult the item is to acquire, the higher the item is in terms of status value. Possession of status symbols can set the offender apart from the rest of the offender population. Furthermore, an offender who possesses such a status symbol also has significant purchasing power.
- Committing an important action or service within the institution: Performing or participating in some action that is often difficult, dangerous or illegal is a proven method of improving one’s status within the prison population. Having the willingness to take risks and do someone else's dirty work is a way of proving oneself.
8.3.2 Status Reducing Actions, Behaviours or Factors
As with factors that improve an offender’s status within an institution, there are also factors that can reduce an offender’s status. These are:
- Being in prison for the first time: New offenders are not always aware of the prison social structure and rules. They are not trusted by the experienced offenders and are usually kept at arms length while the offender population checks them out and while they prove themselves to be a "solid con." They may make mistakes that make them unworthy of respect.
- Being physically non-threatening due to age, mental capacity, personality or size: All of these traits are associated with a person who is perceived as weak and vulnerable. Within the prison environment, this type of person automatically becomes a potential victim or target. Stronger, more aggressive offenders will take advantage of this type of offender. When this happens, other offenders watch to see whether the victim will attempt to defend themselves or their property. If they do not, they lose further reputation and social standing. Without the protection of another influential offender, this type of person is a constant target.
- Serving time for an offence which the offender population considers repugnant (i.e. sexual assault of a child/child molestation, the murder of an infant): This type of offender is relegated to the lowest strata of the prison hierarchy. To gain status or acceptance, this type of offender must associate himself/herself with another offender who already has status, power and influence. If this type of offender can provide a service or commodity to a leader or gang, they can gain a measure of acceptance and protection. While the prison population may not agree with the leader’s or gang members’ "hands off" policy, few will actively oppose it.
- Not possessing the connections or resources to pay for goods or change one’s status: One of the rules of the offender code is to "pay your debts." Offenders who persistently are unable to pay for goods or services that they have used lose respect and status. This type of offender soon becomes ostracized and may have no other choice but to seek the protection of staff.
- Having served time at an institution considered as a "protective custody" prison: Offender populations are fully aware of the "type" of offender who resides in specific institutions. They know that certain institutions are predominately comprised of sex offenders. Regardless of the type of crime the offender has actually committed, offenders transferring in from that "type" of institution are automatically labelled as being that "type" of offender. The rest of the population slots them into one of the lower positions in the hierarchy. In order to move upwards, the offender must prove that he is not that "type" of offender.
- Being too friendly with CSC staff: When the offender population perceives an offender as being too friendly with staff, they become suspicious that the offender is "ratting out" on other offenders and their illegal activities. Unless the population is aware that the friendliness is part of a set-up ploy to manipulate the staff member, they will either ostracize the culprit or introduce harsher sanctions. New offenders may unwittingly fall into the trap of being too friendly with staff.
8.3.3 Other Factors that Influence Hierarchy Dynamics
If an offender is transferred from one institution to another or is released to the community, his/her movement creates a vacancy within the prison hierarchy from the institution he/she left. If the offender is transferred to another institution, his/her position within the new institution’s hierarchy will depend on the status and power that the offender brings with him/her. An offender’s status is not automatically transferable.
Movement within the hierarchy may also occur as a result of a power struggle between leaders or rival gangs. Depending upon the outcome of the conflict, major restructuring of the prison hierarchy may occur.
When a vacancy is created, the departing offender may have already trained his/her replacement, which is usually ready to assume their new role and responsibilities before the departing offender leaves.
8.4 Prison Economy
The driving force behind the institutional economy is the items that offenders are not entitled to have or items that are limited. Due to their incarceration, offenders are cut off from easy access to some of the forms of entertainment and sources of pleasure that they enjoyed when they were in the community.
Incarceration does not affect the demand for certain goods or services. The prison economy exists to meet the many and varied demands of offender consumers.
CSC must provide offenders with the necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Additionally, offenders are provided with an allowance or pay in order to purchase personal items. These items may include canteen, hobby craft items or additional personal items for cell use.
The institutional economy goes beyond those goods and services provided by CSC or what the offender acquired through his/her pay. In such an environment, a business person can make a profit and place himself/herself well within the hierarchy.
Since, with the exception of minimum security institutions money is not allowed in institutions prison currency is any item or service that has value to another offender. An offender can pay for something with an item from his/her personal property, through a specialized skill or through a service. Personal items may consist of any item that the offender has in his/her possession. A specialized skill is any skill the offender may possess, such as tattooing, brew-making, legal advice, weapon making, etc. A service may include running errands, holding or storing contraband or unauthorized items, sexual favours, etc.
The types of items that are highly sought are drugs, brew or distilled alcohol (also referred to as shine) and cigarettes or tobacco products. Canteen items, hobby craft items and personal items are usually exchanged for these items, therefore making them also highly sought. In the case of personal items and some hobby craft items, these items are always assigned an owner. If it is discovered that the offender who has the item in his/her possession is not the rightful owner of that item, the item is confiscated and the registered owner is located. If the owner cannot be located, the item becomes a crown asset and is disposed of.
8.5 Impact of the prison economy
After having discussed what drives the prison economy, we will now examine how the prison economy impacts the security of the institution, the offender population and the staff as well as anyone else who works in a correctional facility or environment.
Many offenders are subject to exploitation generated by the prison economy. For those who are constant consumers and distributors of what the economy has to offer, the pressures associated with payment and interest rates on late payments can create serious problems for both the offenders and the institution.
When an offender gets himself/herself in debt, the offender must pay back the principal and the interest within a week or a set date. If not, the offender is charged at an interest rate of 100% per week, quickly causing the offender to go further and further in debt, until he/she finds himself/herself unable to pay their debt.
Offenders with credit payment problems will sometimes resort to measures that see him/her stealing from or muscling weaker offenders, becoming involved in the drug trade, (including pressuring spouses and family members to bring in drugs or money), becoming an informant to the institution, seeking protective custody and even seeking out more powerful offenders or loan sharks, with the result that the offender becomes even more actively involved in the prison sub-culture.
An offender going through these difficult choices is not thinking about either their correctional plan or participating in programs. This is when CSC’s role in assisting the offender to become a law abiding citizen and/or to assisting the offender to attend programs to reduce their risk to the public is jeopardized.
Apart from offenders, staff members and other people working within the institution, volunteers and even spouses and family members of an offender may also fall prey to intimidation and manipulation, either from an offender who has found himself/herself in this situation or from the member at the top of the offender hierarchy.
There are many ways for an offender to acquire drugs and other commodities. CSC uses various methods and techniques to prevent this from happening; however, these methods and techniques are not fail-safe. The tools and methods to detect and intercept drugs are Ion Scanners, drug dogs, searches and staff observations. Offender informants may also provide staff with information, but the reliability of that information and its source(s) must be constantly verified. When there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offender may have drugs on their person, in their person, or hidden within the institution, CSC can use dry cells,5 searches and in some cases x-rays under the direction of a medical professional to locate the drugs.
There are several ways for offenders to acquire drugs. An item, such as a tennis ball or an arrow with drugs can be sent over the wall. Visitors could bring the drugs in via a visit, private family visit (PFV) or through a family or social event. Staff, contractors, volunteers or anyone else working within an institutional setting could also be coerced or manipulated into providing this service to offenders.
It is therefore imperative that as a contractor, you be aware that you as well as any staff member or volunteer within CSC, if not equipped with this knowledge, could fall prey to an offender’s manipulative tactics.
9.0 MANIPULATION TACTICS
It is very important when working in an institution 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 an institutional 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 her or her 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 his/her 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 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 in which the offender is continually 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 offenders 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 him/her. 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 his/her hold on the victim by collecting enough evidence against him/her 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 his/her 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:
- The tone of your voice should reflect confidence
- Keep your voice firm and non-threatening
- 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 "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.
- Do not allow an offender to touch you. This is against the rules and regulations. 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 are you in contact with, particularly when you have a close working relationship with an offender.
For example, if an offender has recently experienced a serious disappointment i.e. his/her parole was denied, or she/he in serious debt in the institution, he/she may be more volatile and/or exhibit unpredictable behaviour. It is to your advantage to be aware of any recent changes in the lives of the offenders with whom you are working , particularly when you work in close proximity with them in the institutions.
Contracted workers who work in close proximity to offenders in the institutions would be wise to develop a system to receive regular offender updates. This could be accomplished by developing a close relationship with members of the offender’s case management team 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 for the contracted worker to prevent attempted manipulation by the offender.
If you are working closely with offenders, regardless of which institution you are contracted to work in, ensure that you work out a system to receive updates on the offenders with whom you work. Talk to the CSC staff 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 in an institution, you will come into contact 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
- Generally 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.
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 economical 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
Being aware of the institutional environment and the potential for health issues that an offender may be exposed to or is afflicted by will assist you in taking any necessary precautions.
Some offenders arrive at a federal institution with physical and psychological conditions that could pose a risk to themselves,
staff and others. Within the institutions there are some offenders who are considered a high risk for infectious disease such
as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A, B and C, and Tuberculosis (TB). Research shows that many offenders have substance abuse problems and some have serious mental disorders that require specialized treatment.
The medical history of any offender falls under the protection of a doctor/patient confidentiality/privilege.
The following is an overview of the 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 both before they arrive in prison and while incarcerated. High-risk behaviours include sharing needles, tattooing and piercing equipment, crack pipes and straws (for snorting) and having unprotected sex. These diseases are blood-borne and sexually transmitted and are not a threat to people who engage in casual contact with those infected.
Tuberculosis (TB), however, is transmitted through the inhalation of airborne germs. 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 any health issues, please speak with a CSC representative. 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 suffer 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 what 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 of the institution you will be working in as well as the processes that are used by staff in order to manage the situation and bring it to a safe conclusion. With a clear understanding of the security issues that exist in the correctional environment, you will be able to contribute to the overall safety of yourself, staff and the offenders.
12.1 Management of Emergencies
When you work in an 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-taking) 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, there are several strategies you can employ to protect yourself which are outlined in the following section.
12.1.1 Managing personal portable alarms6
Some CSC staff and contractors wear a personal portable alarm (PPA). A personal portable alarm is defined as:
- An alarm unit which, when activated, triggers an alarm at a central control centre, and identifies the specific alarm unit and/or its designated location. Please not that only institutions equipped with a Personal Alarm Locating System (PALS) are capable of displaying the alarm unit location.
Note that if your contractual obligations require you to carry a personal portable alarm on your person, you must test your alarm at the beginning of each shift. The test shall take place at the alarm’s assigned location where the results will be recorded. Note that personal portable alarms that are assigned to a specific location are not to be removed unless they malfunction.
Offenders are NOT allowed to possess personal portable alarms. Report any such incidents immediately to CSC authorities.
If you are required to wear one, you must leave it on for the duration of your shift. Note also that any press of the alarm will be treated as a genuine emergency, so do not use the alarm except for testing purposes at the beginning of your shift or in the case of a real emergency.
If you are not required to wear one, it is a good idea to be aware of who around you in your work environment does wear one. If you are faced with an emergency and are near a person with a PPA, you could alert them to your situation.
12.1.2 Managing fixed point alarms
Institutions have fixed point alarms at various locations inside their facilities. 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 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 as a clash between the interests, values, actions or attitudes of two or more people. Interpersonal conflict is a fact of life and is inevitable. In an institution where offender behaviour can often be volatile, knowing how to properly manage interpersonal conflict will contribute to your personal safety, the safety of CSC staff, and the offender.
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.
After the incident is diffused, report the incident to CSC staff.
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:
|Stage in the Crisis cycle||Warning signals|
|Beginning of the defensive stage||
|Deeper into defensive stage - losing rationality||
|Defensive stage: challenging||
|Borderline crisis stage||
12.2.2 Behaviours that may escalate a situation
There are several behaviours to avoid in order to prevent a crisis from escalating into a physical confrontation. These are:
- 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 softly and slowly;
- Watch the effects of your actions. Avoid actions that antagonize the offender;
- Be seen as a human being (i.e., 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 medical problems/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, particularly if you are a woman.
12.3.5 Strategies to avoid being forcibly confined for sexual purposes
The sexual assault of a prison 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 your environment (doors, exits, when you are alone or isolated, etc.) - especially in regards to offender movement;
- Being aware of the presence/location of other staff;
- Follow security procedures and post orders;
- Do your job properly;
- Be aware that other staff are doing their job properly (i.e. searches);
- Wearing and testing your PPA at all times, if applicable;
- 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;
- At the first signs of trouble summoning help, 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 an offender tries to physically touch you;
- Continuing to work with the offender only AFTER advising security 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
- Use 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 your body language non-aggressive, non-threatening;
- Attempting to humanize yourself,
- Not verbalizing your anger (i.e. purposely provoking the offender);
- Trying to develop rapport and empathy 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 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 his 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
Should an emergency response team be deployed, it is suggested that you drop to the ground where you are, and not to run or seek
a hiding place. There may be a loud noise and tear gas may be used. A removal team will bring you out quickly and let
you shower/clean and see medical staff.
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
|Offender Code and Prison Sub-Culture||
|Professional Relationships with Offenders||
|Seek advice or help||
1 For a detailed break-down of CSC’s institutional structures, please refer back to Module 1, section 6.6 "CSC’s Physical Environment."
2 For more information on offender profiles, please refer to Module 1, section 6.7
3 Note that this list contains only a few points of consideration and is by no means exhaustive. Your judgement when dealing with offenders in an institution 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.
4 The reader is cautioned to keep in mind that the following explanation of the offender hierarchy is simply a tool to help illustrate a very complex social phenomenon. It is by no means an absolute analysis of the issue.
5 A dry cell is a special type of washroom facility that allows CSC staff to collect and examine human waste from the offender for drugs or items that the offender had previously ingested.
6 For more information, please refer to the Commissioner’s Directive 567-2 "Use of and Responding to Alarms." This can be found either on the CSC Infonet or by making a request to your project authority.