It's Not Your Inmates It's Your Staff


What should the focus of rehabilitation in prison be in order to reduce recidivism rates? Should correctional institutions focus their efforts on programming for inmates or job training for staff?

For a while, I have targeted my research at Christopher Newport University on rehabilitation and reentry programming for inmates in prisons. But what if its correctional officers and wardens that could use the extra training?

During my internship with the Warden Exchange, WE, it came to my attention that I may be focusing on the wrong population that needs reform. There has been a lot of research conducted on different rehabilitative and corrective efforts to change criminals. I hypothesize it is time to redirect some of our focus on the staff in correctional facilities hired to encourage this change.

I got the chance to ask a few wardens "If you could only choose to put your resources into one pool, would you focus your reform and rehabilitation on your inmates or staff?" To my surprise, those who responded said their staff.

It made sense immediately after I thought about it. Why had I not thought about it before? Help correct the people that are hired to help correct criminals.

WE is unlike any other program I have ever heard of before. WE equips wardens and corrections professionals with skills in transformational leadership with the ultimate goal being transformation and the moral rehabilitation of each facility's inmates.

I like to think of it as a trickle-down system of hope: inspire the wardens that this change is possible so they can work to transform the culture of their prison.

Someday, I aspire to work within a correctional facility to implement my own rehabilitation/reentry program. But it will take a lot more than me getting hired in a facility to truly make a difference in reducing recidivism rates.

An inmate population will likely need the entire correctional facility's staff on board one mission to collectively build a prison environment conducive to the inmate's moral rehabilitation.

With more effective job training and programs like the Warden Exchange, we can work to transform the staff working inside correctional facilities. Inmates need an environment that will set them up for success and a positive reentry. As the first week of my senior year at CNU comes to an end, I can only wonder 'what is next for me now?'