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Program curbs prison violence through conflict resolution.



Prison violence can create chaos and widespread behavior problems among inmates and morale problems among inmates and staff. Most corrections systems track the number of fights and assaults each day and mete out mete out
Verb

[meting, meted] to impose or deal out something, usually something unpleasant: the sentence meted out to him has proved controversial [Old English metan
 punishment after an incident. But to effectively reduce violence in prison, officials must take a more proactive approach by resolving problems before they intensify in·ten·si·fy  
v. in·ten·si·fied, in·ten·si·fy·ing, in·ten·si·fies

v.tr.
1. To make intense or more intense:
. Corrections officers The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page.
 can attest To solemnly declare verbally or in writing that a particular document or testimony about an event is a true and accurate representation of the facts; to bear witness to. To formally certify by a signature that the signer has been present at the execution of a particular writing so as  to the fact that minor disagreements often are antecedents to major disturbances.

At the State Correctional Institution Noun 1. correctional institution - a penal institution maintained by the government
detention camp, detention home, detention house, house of detention - an institution where juvenile offenders can be held temporarily (usually under the supervision of a juvenile
 at Huntingdon, Pa., which houses some of the state's most aggressive inmates, staff must deal with violence every day. Of the 2,200 inmates, nearly a third are serving life sentences and many have extensive histories of assaultive as·saul·tive  
adj.
Inclined to or suggestive of violent attack: "The reduction of cinema to assaultive images ... has produced a disincarnated, lightweight cinema that doesn't demand anyone's full attention" 
 behavior.

Every year, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on emergency preparedness pre·par·ed·ness  
n.
The state of being prepared, especially military readiness for combat.

Noun 1. preparedness - the state of having been made ready or prepared for use or action (especially military action); "putting them
 equipment and staff training. This training prepares a select group of employees to respond to crises. Such training is invaluable; however, we have learned that improving officers' communication skills enables them to respond more effectively to conflicts with inmates and co-workers. We need to teach inmates and staff how to get along better and resolve their differences peacefully.

Why should corrections officers want to get along with murderers, robbers, rapists? Most corrections officers view their jobs as providing for secure custody and control of inmates. Many would resist the notion that their job should go beyond giving direction and orders.

But good relations between inmates and staff are important to maintaining safety and order in an institution. The DOC is learning that communication and conflict resolution are effective tools for managing their inmate INMATE. One who dwells in a part of another's house, the latter dwelling, at the same time, in the said house. Kitch. 45, b; Com. Dig. Justices of the Peace, B 85; 1 B. & Cr. 578; 8 E. C. L. R. 153; 2 Dowl. & Ry. 743; 8 B. & Cr. 71; 15 E. C. L. R. 154; 2 Man. & Ry. 227; 9 B. & Cr.  populations.

Conflict Resolution In Pennsylvania Prisons

Conflict resolution was introduced to the Pennsylvania DOC more than 14 years ago at the State Institution at Rockview by Marie Hamilton, executive director of the Voluntary Action Center. Superintendent Joe Mazurkiewicz wanted to provide a resource for inmates who had a history of aggressive behavior.

The conflict resolution course promised to give inmates the skills and the resources to handle their own anger and that of other inmates more appropriately and in a nonviolent manner. One of the main objectives of the course is teaching respect for one's self and others. The main components of conflict resolution are values clarification, listening skills, problem solving problem solving

Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error.
, mediation mediation, in law, type of intervention in which the disputing parties accept the offer of a third party to recommend a solution for their controversy. Mediation has long been a part of international law, frequently involving the use of an international commission,  skills and introduction to victim/offender reconciliation.

Says Mazurkiewicz, "I think conflict resolution has tremendous value in a prison setting, since most of our inmates are used to handling conflict aggressively. It provides them with another alternative."

In 1988, Community First Step, an inmate organization at SCI-Huntingdon, decided to try to bring the conflict resolution program to that facility. The group asked Hamilton to provide training for members of the organization. The idea was to prepare inmates who completed the training to teach the course to other inmates.

The course was well-received, and after three years, Community First Step invited officers to participate in a training session with inmates. They believed, correctly, that including officers would improve relationships between inmates and officers. Despite some reservations, corrections officers agreed to participate.

Major John H. Brown, who teaches conflict resolution courses and communications classes to new and veteran corrections officers, says many of us mistakenly assume that we are effective communicators. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 Brown, most people fail to realize that listening is the most important ingredient for effective communication. Brown encourages officers to be active listeners and to take time to listen to all sides of an issue before responding.

Conflict resolution training typically requires 15 hours of instruction. The course curriculum is designed to provide special skills in handling conflict, with emphasis on developing and improving skills in listening, problem solving, values clarification, and mediation, plus emphasis on anger control, forgiveness Forgiveness
Angelica, Suor

is forgiven by the Virgin Mary for ill-considered suicide. [Ital. Opera: Puccini, Suor Angelica, Westerman, 364]

Bishop of Digne
 and non-violence. Brown uses didactic di·dac·tic
adj.
Of or relating to medical teaching by lectures or textbooks as distinguished from clinical demonstration with patients.
 and experiential ex·pe·ri·en·tial  
adj.
Relating to or derived from experience.



ex·peri·en
 techniques to teach the course.

The course aims to improve communication, promote self-esteem, build relationships, and encourage respect for cultural differences and people's emotions. It also teaches techniques to resolve conflicts without emphasizing winning or losing.

Staff joke that the purpose of Brown's communications class is to turn Huntingdon into a "kinder, gentler prison." Brown takes it all in stride Adv. 1. in stride - without losing equilibrium; "she took all his criticism in stride"
in good spirits
, but he believes that if his course helps just one individual improve his communication skills, everyone will benefit.

Testaments to Success

During a meeting with Corrections Commissioner Joe Lehman, officers at Huntingdon asked that the DOC establish ongoing courses in communication and conflict resolution at the facility to help them improve their interpersonal skills "Interpersonal skills" refers to mental and communicative algorithms applied during social communications and interactions in order to reach certain effects or results. The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability .

The officers told Lehman that since training was initiated, they have been spending more time in positive interaction with inmates than they do quelling conflicts. They also argued that since communication is such an integral part of their jobs on a daily basis, improving their communication skills should be considered just as important as emergency preparedness.

One Huntingdon inmate who is serving 10 to 20 years for a violent assaultive crime participated in the training with corrections officers. He noted that one of the officers who took part was a strict disciplinarian dis·ci·pli·nar·i·an  
n.
One that enforces or believes in strict discipline.

adj.
Disciplinary.


disciplinarian
Noun

a person who practises strict discipline

Noun 1.
 from a military background who believed that inmates were "nobodies." According to the inmate, after completing the conflict resolution course, the officer is more humane humane

pertaining to the avoidance of infliction of pain, discomfort and harassment; used especially with regard to animals.


humane considerations
 and professional in his relationships with inmates.

Art Kulik, a veteran corrections officer who participated in conflict resolution training, was impressed with the course and says he still carries a card in his wallet that outlines the six steps of problem solving.

"I feel the training is probably more effective for block officers who have more direct contact with inmates than special duty officers who usually respond to crises more immediately."

The most powerful example of the effectiveness of conflict resolution training occurred during the 1989 riots at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill. Inmates in the New Values drug and alcohol program, who had recently completed a course in conflict resolution, were the only inmates who did not participate in the disturbance. In addition, these inmates were credited with helping officers so they would not be assaulted.

Over the past 14 years, more than 1,500 inmates and staff statewide have been trained in conflict resolution. Because of the program's success, the Pennsylvania DOC is committed to continuing the use of conflict resolution training throughout the system.

We recognize that conflict resolution is not a panacea Some antidote or remedy that completely solves a problem. Most so-called panaceas in this industry, if they survive at all, wind up sitting alongside and working with the products they were supposed to replace.  and cannot be used in every situation, but we have found that it offers us another way to help stem the violence at SCI-Huntingdon. Margaret Moore Margaret Moore is an award-winning Canadian author of romance novels. Biography
The USA Today bestselling author of over 40 historical romance novels and novellas, Margaret Moore graduated with distinction from the University of Toronto with a degree in English literature.
, former Deputy Commissioner for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, agreed with our assessment.

"We can create a safer correctional environment for staff and inmates by teaching conflict resolution skills," she said. "I believe inmate violence and use-of-force incidents by staff can be significantly minimized by teaching and using communication and conflict resolution skills as an initial response to disputes and grievances."

The Six Steps of Problem Solving

1. Define the problem according to both parties' needs. (Look at the cause of the problem as this might be the problem.)

2. Brainstorm possible solutions.

3. Have each party eliminate unacceptable solutions. If all are eliminated, generate more possible solutions.

4. Select one solution or combination of solutions.

5. Implement the solution(s).

6. Set time for evaluation.

Bill Love is superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon.
COPYRIGHT 1994 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Stemming the Violence; includes related article; State Correctional Institution of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
Author:Love, Bill
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Aug 1, 1994
Words:1207
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