Criminal justice is one of the most important institutions in society because it ensures compliance and adherence to the law by putting in place an accountability mechanism that follows violations and punishes them accordingly. The included authorities and departments investigate wrongdoings, prosecute, and sentence perpetrators who are then sent to correctional facilities where they serve their terms. It is in prisons like the case study facility where these individuals pay for their violations and while this is a crucial stage in their rehabilitation back into society, there are several important considerations to be made to ensure their stay actually helps and does not deteriorate their character further. A closer analysis of the criminal justice data presented from the facility shows there is a lot to be desired and this document is a proposal on how that can be achieved.
Theory and Methods
This organization faces several crucial problems that need careful consideration. First of all, is overcapacity as there is not enough room for new and current prisoners held there. Secondly, there is a high number of use-of-force complaints from prisoners. Police officers and prison staff are also subject to a high number of violent contact between prisoners and staff and other subjects and the police. The institution also faces an issue of significant underfunding from the state, leading to understaffing as shown by a high number of inmates per staff member and assignments per officer. This section will present criminology theories that apply to this organization and the challenges it faces and draw connections between them and the specific context.
Psychological and sociological criminology theories apply to this organization and the challenges it faces. According to the behavioral theory under the psychological approach, people learn criminal behavior and adopt included patterns (Harel et al., 2019). Since they are surrounded by criminal elements, officers form a socio-psychological interpretation of their role in a correctional facility, which predisposes their conduct and behavior. Therefore, this is a likely precursor to the excess force these entities employ, abusing their official authority and leading to prisoner complaints. This ties in well with sociological theories of criminology that hold that an individual’s criminal behavior is influenced by society. Therefore, within this framework, the analysis asserts that officer cruelty is rooted in the environment within which they operate. Analyzing the data on the correctional facility, it can be seen that from 2013 to 2016, complaints numbered 16, 14, 16, and 12 units respectively. There is no notable reduction in occurrence, which indicates the lack of a resolution of the problem over the period, which set up the prevalence of the solution because stakeholders are used to a violent environment.
Leaders in this field use different strategic practices to define approaches to solving problems such as those in this case. These methods are to ensure a balanced and fair approach to understanding the issues that have risen in this scenario. For instance, in the case of complaints and clashes between prisoners and officers, the convention is conducting a thorough check to reveal the root cause of the problem (Boateng & Hsieh, 2019). Another approach is the emotional balance strategy where departments seek to contain the mental health problems of their employees. This is achieved via training sessions that look to address the officers’ approaches to solving problems and the challenges they face in their operational environment. These sessions are often back-and-forth, including inquiries from trainers and feedback from the officers. In this scenario, it is often in the best interest of all involved to use more employees per shift so they can develop familiarity with the environment and support each other in the event of an emotional decline.
Best Communication Practices
In cases such as this, it is necessary to communicate with all parties, that is, the officers and prisoners. To this end, departments can use various advanced methods of interaction with the stakeholders. The main approach in these instances is personally stating information to the target audience (Kinman et al., 2019). For example, Altona Correctional Facility should disseminate information with the help of psychologists and officers who listen to the prisoners’ complaints and problems and use the collected data to base further conclusions and approaches. Another common method employed is to show films to officers, where they share their thoughts and ideas about negative interactions with inmates and how to go about them. This is how departments try to implement various methods of communication and offer psychological support to their employees. In communicating with inmates, various cognitive measures are employed, all aimed at understanding the realities in which they operate and developing solutions.
An analysis of the project data reveals several important trends presented in the following discussion. Conclusions from an assessment of the provided data reveal stagnation in efforts to reduce the frequency and number of prisoner complaints. The data shows that inmates keep presenting between twelve and sixteen complaints annually. The same problem is reflected in the number of office referrals, which number between ten and thirteen over the same period. Going on, an important conclusion that can be drawn from the data regards the insufficiency of state funding. This problem implies that it keeps the organization from adequately implementing the solutions/programs prisoners and officers need to improve their outcomes.
Worse still, funding for facility upkeep, staff budget, department upkeep, and officer budget dropped significantly from 2013 to 2015, worsening the financial strain on the criminal justice department. Altona Correctional Facility reports an insubstantial rise in the funding they received between 2013 and 2021, which shows that the situation is not improving (“Attorneys & Advocates”, n.d). Therefore, the departments cannot implement adequate programs to improve to the appropriate levels because they are plagued by insufficient funding from the state.
As intuited in the subsection above, there is a downward trend in both the case study and research departments. In the former, it is shown by the 18% decrease in funding in 2015 preceded by no change in 2014 and an 11% decrease in 2013. Between 2012 and 2028, the budget for Altona Correctional Facility first decreased by 12% then 18%, and remained largely unchanged over the period under consideration (“Attorneys & Advocates”, n.d.). Research on similar institutions revealed that funding is the biggest factor that sets up problems like those seen in Altona Correctional Facility. Robinson (2018) found that inadequate funding was the cause of prisoner-officer altercations in a county jail in the Southeast United States and that finding new sources of revenue was key to alleviating the situation. This situation affects the financial solvency of the departments and their ability to improve. New times come with an ever-greater need for significant budget expansion. It is through well-funded budgets that prisons can afford to hire highly qualified psychologists and adequate employee training. Therefore, the current situation will continue to have an undesired effect on correctional officers, which means prisoner complaints will continue to rise unchecked. Another critical problem associated with the inadequate funding seen in Altona is the institution’s inability to expand its capacity (“Attorneys & Advocates”, n.d.). The reports from both departments show that they suffer from a lack of space, a problem that can be eliminated by the construction of more chambers, which requires monetary investments.
Research shows that concern for the mental well-being of employees is directly tied to an institution’s outcomes (MacDonald, 2018). The departments are underfunded, as shown by the sharp decrease in staff and officers between 2015 and 2016. The number of staff decreased from 65 to 43 and officers from 31 to 22. This means the facility cannot solve all problems that directly depend on the organization’s budget. The budget is therefore the root cause of the problems experienced at the facility because the management cannot afford to take proper care of employees and prisoners. As such, the two parties lash out at each other, leading to ever-increasing complaints and worsening statistics
The theoretical framework developed from the analysis of the project’s data and findings from research has several important implications. As laid out, the facility has issues of deteriorating facility staff mental health and overcapacity, with the presence of a mismatch between the number of inmates and the available space, wherein the solution lies. Assessing the number of inmates held at the institution, the type of contact they have with employees, and the funds received, it emerged that there is a significant lack of financial resources in the facility. Further, the data suggests that governmental aid over the last seven years remained either at the same level or decreased significantly, reaching a reduction of 25 percent in staff budget cuts. With that, comparing this data to global trends in the context of correctional facility funding shows that similar problems are universal and are present even in other countries. A similar pattern where staff and infrastructure costs occupy the bigger portion of funding also exists in similarly structured countries likely Italy, France, and South Africa (Penal Reform International, 2020). Given the ubiquity of the problem, the potential solution can be founded on findings from the experience of trying to solve similar problems in other countries.
This is where the idea of public-private partnerships (PPPs) comes in. These collaborations between private entities and public correctional institutions are primarily aimed at resolving the latter’s financial problems by allowing the former to provide some services to the correctional system to cut down costs. The use of PPPs is generally associated with lower financial costs per prisoner and a reduced need for funding. Further, this practice facilitates a gradual resolution to the problem of overcrowding as these investors provide funding to increase capacity. However, the widespread use of PPPs is limited by an increased risk of poor quality services and even lower standards of living conditions. According to Eisen (2018), using performance-based contracts in prisons favors a humane approach toward inmates and allows for a more manageable process of reintegration into society, an option this facility should use. For instance, this facility should create a partnership based on the terms that it can only continue if tangible results are seen within one year. The facility can also require that the partner commit a specific amount of money before starting the collaboration. However, the transition from number-driven contracts to performance-based contracts has not yet been implemented in the U.S.
The introduction of evaluation programs to the facility’s use of PPPs can increase the quality of services and promote higher standards in the privatization of the correction system (Byrne et al., 2019). Therefore, the essential steps the institution should take to implement the solution properly include advertising to PPPs, creating agreements with these private entities, and developing service evaluation standards. Finally, the leadership should develop a universal standard evaluation system to ensure the analysis of the partners yields accurate and dependable results.
Research in criminology and communication theories suggests that the central reason behind conflicts between inmates and officers is increased pressure on the mental well-being of employees. As it stands, the correction facility can only afford administrative and inmate maintenance costs. Therefore, it is unlikely that the mental health needs of officers will be addressed any time soon. A public-private partnership can alleviate this problem by providing more attention to employee wellbeing by availing training and related interventions. Furthermore, this research listed using more employees per shift as a possible measure to prevent the deterioration of their mental state. Instituting more training programs will allow the facility to maintain a more extensive staff that is better mentally prepared to deal with the environment (DeHart & Iachini, 2019). Therefore, an organizational change will allow the correctional facility to hire more employees at the same level of expenses.
Drawing from the information gleaned from analyzing the project data and looking at global prison trends, creating PPPs emerged as the best solution to address prison overcrowding. The report from the Altona Correctional Facility identified an upward trend in the growth of the number of inmates over the last five years, from 111 in 2012 to 130 in 2016 (CJ 675 Final project data set, n.d.). This occurred even as the actual inmate capacity remained the same at 100. According to Ravena and Mahmud (2019), overcrowding in correctional facilities can result in a wide range of problems, from reduced efficiency of rehabilitation programs to increased risks of respiratory and digestive diseases.
Furthermore, the number of inmates per staff member in Altona Correctional Facility increased two times in the last five years, which poses a great risk to the safety of workers. The provision of adequate services in correctional facilities was prioritized in decision-making in this research. This is why the idea of public-private partnerships (PPPs) holds water; it ensures more efficiency and effectiveness without increased funding from the state and federal government.
The internal and external audiences of this proposal include different types of stakeholders. Further, the approaches featured in the communication plan have to be in line with the field’s best practices as determined by global trends and comparable organizations. In line with this directive, the communication plan will feature an easy-to-follow format that flows from problem to solution and use standard language. The inmates, existing staff, and Altona Correctional Facility’s administration all make for the proposal’s internal audience. On the other hand, the Bureau of Prisons, the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the government, and potential private sector partners make up the external audience. The successful dissemination of the proposal’s key ideas to these groups will require different communication plans.
The department’s officers make up the primary group, given its direct contact with the incarcerated. As such, these individuals make up the proposal’s main internal audience. The primary changes that come with the proposal include introducing special training for correctional officers and onboarding more employees. Therefore, the communication process with this group has to be informative and allow for feedback from the involved stakeholders. Meetings stand out as the most effective option because they allow for all-important verbal communication that also facilitates informative conversation with the staff. The administration will be able to engage directly with its officers and they will be able to respond immediately, significantly shortening the turnaround between dissemination and feedback.
In this instance, communicating with the external audience will be harder than with the former audience as it is mostly unilateral. Disseminating the primary ideas included in the proposal in this case mandates employing an intelligible visual form. Therefore, to disseminate the solutions to potential public-sector partners, Altona Correctional Facility’s management will need to disperse informative letters featuring the institution’s plans and crucial objectives. A sample letter is attached in the appendix. Outlining key desired outcomes will give the potential partners a chance to assess the likely contribution they will make in this endeavor to better the community.
Criminal justice plays a crucial role in ensuring a stable and thriving society as it is how violators of social norms and laws are corrected and rehabilitated back into the populace. However, there are several problems to contend with in this regard, as shown by the case study department. An analysis of the organization’s historical data reveals several problems associated with overcapacity, funding, and understaffing. It emerges that similar institutions all over the country and around the world have had to contend with similar problems, especially those related to funding, and a prompt solution is needed.
“Attorneys & Advocates”. (n.d.). Altona Correctional Facility. Web.
Boateng, F. D., & Hsieh, M. L. (2019). Explaining job satisfaction and commitment among prison officers: The role of organizational justice. The Prison Journal, 99(2), 172-193. Web.
Byrne, J., Kras, K. R., & Marmolejo, L. M. (2019). International perspectives on the privatization of corrections. Criminology & Public Policy, 18(2), 477-503. Web.
CJ 675 Final project data set. (n.d.). Web.
DeHart, D., & Iachini, A. L. (2019). Mental health & trauma among incarcerated persons: Development of a training curriculum for correctional officers. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 44(3), 457-473. Web.
Eisen, L. B. (2018). Down under, more humane private prisons. The New York Times. Web.
Harel, N., Moskovitch, J. T., Weiland, T. J., & Augello, M. R. (2019). Common emergency department presenting complaints of prisoners: A systematic review. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 31(2), 183-192.
Kinman, G., Clements, A. J., & Hart, J. (2019). When are you coming back? Presenteeism in UK prison officers. The Prison Journal, 99(3), 363-383.
MacDonald, M. (2018). Overcrowding and its impact on prison conditions and health. International Journal of Prisoner Health, 14(2), 65-68.
Penal Reform International. (2020). Global prison trends 2020. Web.
Ravena, D., & Mahmud, A. (2019). The implications of overcrowding for fostering prisoners in prison: Management and systems problems. Journal of Southwest Jiaotong University, 54(5), 1-10. Web.