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CORRECTIONS: Looking Through the Grid

I write this blog with deep respect honoring Peerstar’s Forensic Peer Support Program.

They say there are two sides to every story so allow me to capture your attention while I share my experiences, wisdom, and view of jail through my unique lens—are you ready?

The United States Constitution grants every American certain rights that help protect their Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. Henceforth, the Bill of Rights is the main amendment of the constitution that helps to ensure we are safe to act and acknowledge our rights.

In the American Correctional System, many of these rights diminish since there are less freedoms to ensure safety and security within the walls of correctional institutions across the country. If you scoff at these ideas or practices you are not alone. I do understand the mindset where many controversies may arise.

Once upon a time, I had the honor and privilege to apply, interview, and accept a position with a local correctional facility as a Lieutenant Corrections Officer. This would be my first role in leadership within the Criminal Justice System. I knew the work responsibilities and I began fulfilling these requirements one day at a time. I found myself overwhelmed with new information, excited for this new adventure, and consistently practiced positive “self” reinforcement. As an employee, what do I value about my superiors? First, I want to lead by example to demonstrate work ethics and expectations to my officers. Second, I need to be available to my staff; in fact, make time to connect with my staff even if I must impose this in my schedule. Third, time management, organization, and communication skills are critical, as such, I must keep focused and model creative thinking, initiative, and be a leader my officers can appreciate. It is important to work with a “Can-Do” attitude.

Through my time serving in leadership, I found myself mentoring the officers under my command as well as counseling inmates with personal and/or institutional concerns. Among my responsibilities is to make a known presence in housing units and talk with the inmates. For me to make time talking to the inmate population helped to establish respect, rapport, and credibility; and was a good strategy to solve problems. It was quite interesting the information you could receive by being present in the housing units. It is important to spell out that I am not there to judge, shame, rebuke, criticize, or belittle any offender incarcerated in jail. My work involved maintaining a fair and impartial mindset with a professional composure—you can bet my shirt was pressed, boots polished, and insignia prominently displayed. Even though I was an authority figure and each day was different, I had a lot of work to do. For me, working to be proactive enabled me to have time to complete my paperwork and numerous administrative tasks.

Markedly, I believe in empowering my fellow person; I believe in enriching people to learn; I believe in making mistakes yet learning from them; I believe in education-to grow in wisdom to contribute within my social circle as well as my community. I reflect back to this time in my life where I felt proud, content, and accomplished. This work was stressful, challenging, however rewarding. I hope you can learn with me and continue to increase in wisdom as time passes on.

Erik Whisker

Disclaimer: The ideas and views presented in this blog are the opinions and experiences of the specific blog author and do not reflect the opinions, ideas, or experiences of Peerstar, LLC.

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