Correctional Officer Explains the different ways of Disciplining Inmates
The administration would prefer that you use “progressive discipline” instead of “disciplining inmates” when dealing with prisoners. Progressive discipline is when you try to talk to the inmate first by giving him a warning before you write him up and give him an 115. An 115 is a disciplinary action that could result in more time added to an inmate’s sentence or some of their privileges being taken away, depending on the violation.
The reason communication or progressive discipline is preferred over the 115 is because of the costs involved to bring an inmate before a disciplinary board at the institution can be staggering. When I started in 1994, I was told that for every 115 it can cost in the hundreds of dollars because the paperwork could go through as many as four (4) personnel’s hands before it reaches the disciplinary board. This is what makes it so costly and the reason why it is not the most preferred method of dealing with problem inmates and disciplining inmates.
Some officers were not effective communicators and were constantly writing up inmates for trivial violations. Not every violation warrants a write-up, and a good officer knows the difference between a petty or serious violation. Because of my ability to effectively communicate with inmates, I was never assaulted and never had to use deadly force. I did come close a couple of times of being assaulted, but I knew to call for back-up before it escalated into a more serious situation where I or the inmate could become injured.
Women didn’t always work in the prison system as correctional officers and were not always welcomed by male officers. The men felt that women were not physically strong enough and thought women could easily be manipulated by inmates. It is noteworthy to mention, female officers have been known to calm hostile situations and sometimes are more effective at communicating than men. I can remember a potentially volatile situation was brewing in the metal shop area, and I was instructed to go and speak with them to find out what they were upset about. The inmates did speak with me, and they were willing to communicate with me. Brute force is not always the answer. The prison system figured out that women can be very effective in dealing with inmates and in some situations more effectively than their male counterparts.
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention the fact that some female officers can rub an inmate the wrong way that can cause him to assault her. For many of the inmates, they see female officers as being someone’s sister, mother, and aunt and have no desire to assault a woman. A female officer would have to be very disrespectful to an inmate to cause him to want to assault her. Also, assaulting a female officer is frowned upon by the inmates, unless they feel you have disrespected or mistreated them. There was a situation where I had not done anything to disrespect this one inmate, and he wanted to assault me anyhow. When we pulled his file, we found that he had assaulted a woman and this was one of the reasons he had been incarcerated.