The field of corrections faces many impending changes as national leaders assess the country’s criminal justice system. To address such changes and their impact on correctional officers and administrators, In Public Safety has created an online magazine. This online publication addresses everything from dealing with mentally ill inmates to identifying human trafficking networks behind prison walls.
By Michael Pittaro
Prisons and jails have become the de facto state hospitals responsible for confining and caring for the mentally ill. There are more seriously and persistently mentally ill individuals imprisoned in correctional institutions today than in all U.S. state hospitals combined. This requires a major paradigm shift in thinking, practice, and policy: Prisons were never intended nor designed to cope with a tremendous influx of individuals with significant degrees of mental illness.
The majority of individuals in the nation’s criminal justice system have substance abuse issues. Suffice it to say, knowledge of drugs and their effects is very important to anyone working in the criminal justice system, especially those working in probation or parole.
To help officers determine if someone is under the influence of drugs, a group of officers in California developed a program called the drug abuse recognition (DAR) course. The DAR program was developed to help identify individuals currently under the influence of drugs, which makes it ideal for use by probation and parole officers, correctional officers, private industry, and school officials. AMU criminal justice student Keith Graves writes about the benefits of this unique program.
The suicide rate among correctional officers is significantly higher than other occupations and twice as high as police officers. Yet, the topic of suicide and the stressors contributing to suicide are rarely discussed. AMU professor Michael Pittaro recently presented to correctional representatives from 14 southern states about suicide awareness and the need for a change in leadership style.
The number of females in prison, jail, and probation populations has grown at a considerably faster rate than males. Despite this growth, the correctional system is failing to address the rehabilitation needs of women during and after incarceration. AMU professor Michael Pittaro talks to one former inmate about her experience in the prison system and the support she's received now that she's on parole.
Implementing an automation system within a correctional agency can be a challenging and complex process. AMU's Dr. Ron Wallace has extensive experience helping correctional facilities automate their processes and recommends administrators start with a business process reengineering (BPR) assessment. Learn more about BPR and what additional steps agencies should take before adopting or implementing new technology.
By Michael Pittaro, assistant professor, criminal justice at American Military University
Prisons are, in many respects, a microcosm of society. In 2030, the last baby boomer will turn 65 and one in five Americans will be older than 65. This aging population is also represented within the nation’s prisons system.