Bringing Down the Hammer
The primary job responsibility of security staff in community corrections focuses on maintaining safety both inside facilities and in the community.
As a former Correctional Technician in a community corrections program, I understand the importance of having a strong security staff in your program. Fortunately I worked in a program that believed in more than just catching clients being bad. But sometimes I had to be the bad guy; it wasn’t easy. Making a decision that could send a client back to prison is difficult. You want them to succeed but community safety is a top priority.
Inside facilities, security staff’s responsibilities historically include completing house counts, maintaining a clean facility, monitoring for contraband and completing client drug and alcohol monitors. They hold clients accountable for daily tasks by producing incident reports and inspecting daily chores and other tasks.
While clients are in the community, the security staff is responsible for completing community whereabouts calls with potential employers, supervisors, and clients themselves. They are also responsible for tracking clients and ensuring they arrive and leave locations at designated times.
In short, security staff has been a rule enforcer.
The Shift in Thinking
As thinking and training have evolved in community corrections, so have the job responsibilities of security staff.I’ve seen these changes right around me as CorrectTech’s customer implementation services and support manager.
Across community corrections programs, security staff job duties are beginning to include new job functions such as client mentors and therapy facilitators taking an active role in client program progress.
I’ve learned, through regularly engaging with community corrections supervisors, that in some programs clients are now assigned a security staff mentor upon intake who is responsible for meeting with their mentees weekly. The security staff members’ goal as mentors is to help clients learn and understand facility rules and be available for clients with questions or concerns.
Members of the security staff spend a lot of time with clients while they are in the program and CAN have a great impact on clients’ successes.
From the Hammer to the Swiss Army Knife of Community Corrections
Security staff members in some programs are now completing basic quick skills groups with clients. They are leading groups focused on creating a resume, preparing for community job search, facing challenges met in the community and what to expect in job interviews (just to name a few).
Historically, only case managers and therapists lead these groups.
Groups such as these help take the workload off case managers while allowing security staff to interact with clients in a role that does not make them only a rule enforcer.
I’ve also seen security staff take on a major role as a part of progressing client treatment plans! Initial and ongoing client treatment plans are reviewed in staff meetings with both case managers and security staff weighing in on goals to be completed.
We’re starting to see a move towards helping clients succeed rather than simply catching them being bad. When security adds “helping clients progress on their treatment plans” to their job description they are implementing evidence based practices (EBP) in a new way and acting as positive reinforcement managers while maintaining their role as accountability monitors.
Now, security staff can spend a different kind of time with the clients.
This shift isn’t only beneficial to the clients. This new role offers security staff an opportunity to develop skills that enable them to grow into positions with more responsibility.
This is a big deal.
As with any change, there will be bumps and stumbles along the way.
In this series of blogs, I will cover both the struggles and victories programs are experiencing with this new way of thinking.
Stay tuned for future Evolution of the Security Role blogs to hear about my conversations with security staff members, clients and program supervisors.
We will learn how clients feel about this new culture, how staff has embraced these new duties, and how supervisors have helped implement this change in philosophy. We will also examine what new training curriculum has been made available for security staff and what is soon to come as they transition to a new set of responsibilities.
What is your role as a security staff member at your agency? I’d love to hear your story.