…..okay, what’s next!
Management: Oversight is a challenge. Long distant oversight can be a quagmire.
Imagine sitting at the head of a nation-wide service corporation with exclusive contractual responsibility to improve community safety and security by providing relevant programming and treatment for adults vulnerable to influences counterproductive to good governance. For effective delivery of the process, this corporation is granted considerable authority to restrict its clients’ freedoms and choices during the remedial period.
A national headquarters supported by regional offices feeds operational protocols and directives to about three dozen facilities spread across the country. A level of institutional autonomy allows a degree of flexibility in responding to local variances. All the same, layers of oversight are intended to homogenize the corporation’s core policies and practices for viable, uniform and positive outcomes.
What could go wrong?
How is compliance assessed? What is the measure of efficacy? When are reviews triggered? As the head of this enterprise, experience says even the best-intentioned can slip off the rails, let alone what impact rogue elements with counter-agendas will have. When an institution relies predominantly on self-appraisals and subjective evaluations from within, opportunities for a deviant culture ferment. Hands-on high-level objectivity at regular and unannounced irregular intervals constructively powers the policy design.
One more thing. Success is weighed in client outcomes, and the corporation’s clients are as much a part of critiquing the standard with potentially unique and relevant perspectives as are the opinions of the operators and facilitators. If something isn’t working for inclined clients, if they’re not achieving a maximum benefit, rethinking is warranted.
Visits and visitors: No dispute…..short and sweet. This major resource in meeting a correctional system’s mandate is a no-brainer. Despite the few incidents that jeopardize security concerns, visits are the one opportunity for offenders to come face to face with family, friends and the community. Visits are an opportunity for the ‘village’ to make amends for the role it played in directing an offender’s life choices. ‘Visit’ is a synonym for ‘hope.’ (How ‘bout a visiting reconciliation program?)
Institutional policy should reflect priorities where institutional workers actively encourage inmates, friends, and family to come together, and as often as possible. In practice, staff will reach out to the community to build a circle of care. This won’t always meet mission statement goals, but its purpose is unmistakably positive.
……more on the way.