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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kurz Manor and Longview: Organizational Reforms Proposal for Private Prisons Management LLC

Kurz Manor and Longview: Organizational Reforms Proposal for Private Prisons Management LLC

Private Prisons Management is faced with several issues at it's two prison units, Kurz Manor and Longview. Kurz Manor has allowed several escapes and is staffed by inexperienced correctional officers. Longview is plagued by inmate violence. Both units suffer from low morale and high turnover. These problems can be addressed by organizational development of Private Prisons Management as a whole, from the corporate level to the two units themselves. The first step in this process is to identify the models of organization we will be achieving, and the theories those models are based upon. It is then necessary to identify the sources of resistance that may be expected to oppose these changes, and to foresee ways of overcoming that opposition. Methods of increasing the effectiveness of the organization and methods of building trust and team support of staff will need to be included in this discussion. Finally, proposed reforms will need to identify methods of increasing job morale.
To begin, it must be recognized that the history of correctional methods in the United States reveals a “noncoherent jumble” of polices; as correctional policy is based upon the will of the people, which, as Carlson contends, has varied in both attitude and expectation over time. (2001, p. 1) However, as Doble and Klein report, it remains a constant that the public is preoccupied with personal safety. (2009, p. 293) In order to make the most effective use of our limited resources (specifically in experienced officers) to achieve the goal of keeping the public safe, a hierarchal corporate model of responsibility branching down into the prison units will be implemented. The intention is to give first line supervisors the greatest amount of discretion at the beginning of the organizational change, and as line staff gains experience and competence, formally transfer greater discretionary power to the line officers themselves. Current staff will be distributed between the two prison units, with the more experienced officers selected as first-line supervisors. In addition, Kurz Manor will be redesignated and staffed as a supermax prison, as Pizarro & Narag suggest that “prison administrators assert that supermax prisons are effective management tools because they serve as a general deterrent within the correctional population”. (2008, p. 29) Using a supermax model for the more dangerous inmates will also increase levels of safety for staff, public, and other inmates. The organizational model with be paired with a control model for prison management. Salinas explains the control method in DiIulio’s typology of prison management as based upon punishment; this punishment must be swift and visible to other inmates in order to create and maintain prison order. (2009, p.22) Considering the current lack of discipline and control in both prison units, it must be understood that the safety of the public, the safety of the prison staff, the safety of the inmates themselves, and the reputation of the company cannot not be maintained in prisons where escapes and inmate violence are common occurrences. According to Maziarka, a common measure of effective prison management is the level of inmate misconduct.(2013, p.1), so we will be base our reforms on this concept. Escapes and inmate violence reflect a lack of current compliance to that measurement. One reason the criminal justice system uses private prisons is to provide management expertise, as Jing explains the instrumental perspective argument.(2010, p.264) If the company cannot meet it's requirements to the state, we will lose the contract. Finally, we can not lose sight of the underlying reasons we need to maintain a controlled prison environment; Mackenzie compares the justice theory model and the incapacitation model theory in that the former is based on retributive notions of deserved punishment and that in the latter as simply as stating that offenders cannot commit crimes against the public while they are in prison. Mackenzie summarizes thus, “It is also generally accepted that some individuals should be incarcerated for long periods of time both as retribution for the seriousness of their offenses and because they pose threats if released. (2001, pp. 9-10)
It can be anticipated that we may receive opposition from the officer's union, the inmates' organizations, personal opposition from guards whose interests or power relationships have been upset. We must recognize the interests and the influence of the unions, which Doob & Gartner assert work to preserve jobs for their members, oppose attempts to cut correctional budgets, or assert the importance of imprisonment as a response to crime. (2011, p. 789) However, we should collaborate with the unions and recognize the “positive role unions can and do play in working with management to solve problems, implement change, make reforms, and handle crises.” (the COPS Office, 2009, para. 2) In dealing with personal opposition from guards whose interests may be affected (such as by reassignment to a unit whose location is inconvenient) we should make an effort to identify and mitigate such conflicts if possible, We should also be wary of situations in which the personal interests are not so pure:
...winners are often agency members who are skilled at political wars but who are not necessarily excellent or productive workers. As a result, good employees who foresee they will become losers may take early retirements, change jobs, or continue to accept their paychecks while opting out of the productive process. Moreover, mediocre employees with friends in high places may find rewarding niches in the system within new organizational arrangements as a result of their allegiance (sucking up) to the “friends.” (Stojkovic, 2014, p. 440)
The method for overcoming opposition from pro-inmate organizations will simply be the correlation between lax control polices and inmate misconduct, escape, and violence. We should also remember that these organizations support policy which ignores the “safety and concerns” of correctional staff. (Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, 2002, para.5)
There are several methods of increasing the effectiveness of the organization as well as building trust and team support of staff. The first is to utilize participative leadership within the hierarchy; while this seems a contradiction in terms, a formal method of addressing line concerns can be built into any organization. Even one of the most autocratic organizations in the American system, the United States Marine Corps, uses a “request mast” process that allows the line Marine to address any level of command. The next most important tool we can use is training; One of the issues that contributes to lax discipline is a lack of training. Training must emphasize officer safety, as safety is also a morale issue (which will be discussed shortly). Campbell asserts that team building needs to done with the understanding that the goals and purposes of the organization are made clear. ( 2006, p.151)
Job morale is an integral part of our goals; it contributes to high turnover which leads to inexperience which leads to lax prison control. Micieli describes a correctional officer's life as one filled with confrontation, mendaciousness and force and one in which the officer is daily challenged mentally, physically, and on integrity. (2008, p. 5) Farkas identifies not only the unique nature of correctional employment, but the factors that make it a high stress occupation, including the stress created by working in a low resource environment.(2001, p.20) One area of organizational focus should be controlling prison gangs. Carlson asserts that any veteran corrections officer will identify the greatest challenge to prison management is controlling gangs (2001, p. 10) This should improve morale. Ways of improving officer pay should be re-examined. Finally, it is imperative to implement a stress management program similar to the one out lined by Finn in Addressing Correctional Officer Stress: Programs and Strategies. Issues and Practices. (2000)
In conclusion, to address the lax control in our prison units that lead to inmate escapes and violence requires that our corporation and it's prison units be reorganized. This organization needs to be based on the goals of a prison and on the realities that comprise the situation. By identifying the problems of low resources and lax resources and the factors that cause those situations, and by identifying the sources of resistance to potential change, we can map out the tools and methods we will use to make effective change to the organization at all levels which will allow us to attain our goals in an efficient manner.


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