Wasted Honor -

Carl R. ToersBijns is the author of the Wasted Honor Trilogy [Wasted Honor I,II and Gorilla Justice] which is a reflection of his life and his experiences as a correctional officer and a correctional administrator retiring with the rank of deputy warden in the New Mexico and Arizona correctional systems.

Carl is considered by many a rogue expert in the field of prison security systems since leaving the profession. Carl has been involved in the design of many pilot programs related to mental health treatment, security threat groups, suicide prevention, and maximum custody operational plans including double bunking max inmates and enhancing security for staff. He invites you to read his books so you can understand and grasp the cultural and political implications and influences of these prisons. He deals with the emotions, the stress and anxiety as well as the realities faced working inside a prison. He deals with the occupational risks while elaborating on the psychological impact of both prison worker and prisoner.

His most recent book, Gorilla Justice, is an un-edited raw fictional version of realistic prison experiences and events through the eyes of an anecdotal translation of the inmate’s plight and suffering while enduring the harsh and toxic prison environment including solitary confinement.

Carl has been interviewed by numerous news stations and newspapers in Phoenix regarding the escape from the Kingman prison and other high profile media cases related to wrongful deaths and suicides inside prisons. His insights have been solicited by the ACLU, Amnesty International, and various other legal firms representing solitary confinement cases in California and Arizona. He is currently working on the STG Step Down program at Pelican Bay and has offered his own experience insights with the Center of Constitutional Rights lawyers and interns to establish a core program at the SHU units. He has personally corresponded and written with SHU prisoners to assess the living conditions and how it impacts their long term placement inside these type of units that are similar to those in Arizona Florence Eyman special management unit where Carl was a unit deputy warden for almost two years before his promotion to Deputy Warden of Operations in Safford and Eyman.

He is a strong advocate for the mentally ill and is a board member of David's Hope Inc. a non-profit advocacy group in Phoenix and also serves as a senior advisor for Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council in Chino, California As a subject matter expert and corrections consultant, Carl has provided interviews and spoken on national and international radio talk shows e.g. BBC CBC Lou Show & TV shows as well as the Associated Press.































































































































Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Personal Safety inside Prison



My recent comments on personal safety when Associated Press Bob Christie reported the sexual assault or rape of an Arizona teacher has fallen on many deaf ears as their assessment of the dire need to change the way we conduct our security assessments and personal safety issues has become a topic of discussion amongst correctional employees and administration. 

There appears to be a large misunderstanding to determine what is safe and what is unsafe in a potentially high risk and violent environment. Violence inside a prison can take place anywhere. It can happen inside the housing units, the recreation yard, work areas, the infirmary or as demonstrated by the Arizona rape incident, the classrooms. No work should have a risk associated with it as “usual” or “accepted” to go with the job.

We are constantly reminded that our prisoners can and do have history of violent behaviors and must never forgo or forget they may turn violent on a moment’s notice due to well-planned, spontaneous actions or provoked situations. Critical incidents can turn into lethal situations in seconds and security is necessary to deter such ideas or occurrences daily. 

The issue of personal safety can be covered by using basic security habits or procedures to remain safe to some degree. We can escort employees, watch over them by using virtual electronic technologies, lock them in designated areas or control access to areas by using a controlled movement procedures that identifies authorized personnel only in those areas. 

Regardless and no matter what security element we use, we must always have a basic awareness or vigilance about ourselves and others to establish the very basic point of being safe. This is achieved by effectively training you for the job assigned and giving you the tools required to carry out such an assignment. 

Managing risks is a complex and fluid on-going challenge that must be done constantly in order to detect changes in the environment or population. Inspectors or officers should be aware of the variables that may change over time and require adjustments in procedures to attain the level of security to reduce the risks. This is a constant problem inside prisons. 

The visible proof is most populations have become specialized and most staffing has been drastically reduced due to budget constraints or vacancies in the staffing patterns. There should be no discontinuities or weaknesses in such assessments as they provide a window of opportunity for the perpetrator or criminal to attack or plan such an act as taking a hostage, escape or even to commit another crime while incarcerated and striking at another person to kill while already serving time for a crime. 

Specialized populations such as protective custody prisoners, sex offenders, gang leaders and highly disruptive groups require intense security assessments at all times to adjust the risk factors placed within the environment or facility. Remember that institutional adjustments must be made to allow a safe and secure milieu. Personal safety is not an individual dimensional challenge but rather it is a multidimensional challenge that requires the use of many tools rather than just a basic shift or relocation of human resources or other logistic networks designed for safety purposes. 

Basic multidimensional strategies to ensure better safety practices should be designed to give you the confidence you feel safe and allows you to make adjustments in your presence to continue to feel safe throughout the day. 

Personal safety requires you to: 

·         Be aware of your surroundings and find areas that are not blind spots or not within the view of surveillance cameras. Always know the location of the nearest correctional officer and carry a radio in good working order so you can communicate immediately.
·         When possible travel during designated movement times so you are not alone. Walking in pairs or telling others where you are going is a good practice as well as letting them know when you plan to return or move from the assigned area so they are expecting your arrival elsewhere.
·         Follow sound security procedures. Don’t go into an area unless you are cleared to go into the place especially when there is an emergency and you are called to respond.
·         Never take materials on your person that may be used as weapons. Pens, sharpened object or even blunt objects can be used against you. Secure them if you can and not make them visible.
·         Don’t stop during movement that takes you away from the main corridor or path designed for movement. These areas are normally within the camera’s vision and can observe your movement to and from your designation safely under a watchful eye.
·         Watch your behavior or attitude so it can’t be misconstrued as being flirty or biased. Focus on your job and do not go beyond questions relevant to getting the assignments done.
·         Look for subtle attempts to personalize your relationship and set forth a pattern of conversations that lead to manipulation and released personal information that may harm you or others.
·         Maintain a personal safety zone and make it clear you do not want any closer contact which you clearly expressed to the inmate population with consistency. Report violations of disobedience and stay away from retaliatory attitudes that provoke conflict or misunderstandings.
·         Take care of each other and express your movements with each other so your whereabouts is a constant awareness by others you work with and reduce any personal one on one contact with the prisoners. 

Personal Safety requires the Administration to:

·         Appropriately train and equip you for the job assignment given even if temporary or substituted
·         Ensure the environment is controlled by limiting authorized movements only during certain times
·         Ensure accessibility or availability of responding staff is within voice or sighted distance at all times
·         Ensure accessibility to communication devices to call for assistance is unobstructed and available at all times
·         Ensure visibility of the assigned location is not blocked or impeded by obstacles or blind spots
·         Ensure a welfare [security] check is in place to check on employees wellness in periodic irregular fashion
·         Ensure the population is in compliance with designed classification risk levels and other security threats
·         Ensure sure there is an effective mechanism in place to report any security violations / concerns
·         Ensure ingress and egress is controlled at all times by security personnel on each shift
·         Ensure the physical plant and locking devices are working as designed and tested periodically
·         Ensure security audits or assessment are made to capture environmental changes over time
·         Ensure population assessments are conducted on a regular basis [at least annually] to detect problematic issues or adjustments in mission changes.
·         Ensure roster balancing and post assignments are reviewed every six months
·         Ensure monthly walk thru inspections are conducted /documented by unit Chief of Security
·         Ensure a monthly report is forwarded to Warden for notifications of problems reported and found

Reference:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/2/worker-safety-agency-investigating-prison-rape/