Correctional units, also known as prisons or penitentiaries, are designed to incarcerate and rehabilitate criminals. Correctional unit managers, or wardens, have a variety of important responsibilities, including prison security and personnel management. These managers must be prepared in dealing with a variety of personality types, as well as planning for various unforeseen events, such as riots or escape attempts.
Prisons are unsurprisingly dangerous places filled with dangerous people. As such, one of the main functions of the unit manager is to ensure the safety of prison staff and other inmates. To minimize the risk of violence, she should make sure that prison rules are fairly enforced, that the treatment of prisoners is humane and that inmates get regular contact with family and loved ones. She should also ensure that facilities are clean, cells are not overcrowded and guards are well-trained in managing inmates. Improper regulation of these elements leads to a greater likelihood of rioting and violence.
The manager needs to foster an environment that's safe and rewarding for its employees. Studies have shown that if staff are dissatisfied, inmates tend to look at the facility more negatively than usual. Promoting career advancement, holding regularly-scheduled performance reviews and fielding staff grievances helps make the employees at the facility feel like professionals and not other inmates.
Planning for the Worst
Riots and uprisings can happen instantly and in an unpredictable fashion. When this happens, guards and prison staff don't have time to figure out a gameplan -- contingency planning must be laid out well in advance. The correctional unit manager must work with her senior staff in creating and implementing plans of action for minimizing casualties, limiting the duration of the event and restoring relative normalcy. This is accomplished in part by knowing the relationships inside the prison, such as gang affiliations, racial tensions and a host of other social issues.
Prison budgets are affected by state and federal budgets. The correctional unit manager needs to maintain her own budgets, filing requests for increases as needed to ensure the safety and security of everyone inside. She must have a grip on the needs of the facility, since these requests will require justification. Managing what is effectively a small town, she may need to request things such as repairs to the facility and utilities, recreational equipment maintenance, clothing and food. Staffing and overtime issues must also be properly managed in order to maintain the right guard to inmate ratio within the budget assigned.
David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.