Introduction

There has been an increasing number and diversity of offenders in most correctional institutes which imposes challenging responsibilities on correctional agencies and organizations. Correctional managers should exhibit a high level of autonomy, authority, and responsibility which manifests in how they communicate with staff members, complete security checks, and routinely make rounds. However, there are major problems, trends, and issues affecting prisons today, and the current situation requires the correctional managers to be versatile in their operations. A common problem is conflicts within the agency. In this regard, the paper will substantiate on how correctional managers address conflicts in the agency and how they ought to discipline staff members. It will also describe steps in progressive discipline.

Discussion

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It is apparent that the correctional experience today is premised on hopelessness and despair as the prison population is growing at an alarming rate (Gladwin & McConnell, 2014). The legislature is also passing more stringent laws and lengthy sentences in the quest of reducing the number of transgressions. However, this only increases the tension within these correctional facilities as offenders find their way into the system. This might cause conflict, thus making it imperative for correctional managers to learn and develop some conflict resolution skills (Hurley & Hanley, 2010). In fact, verbal confrontations that can result in physical incidents have become the norm. Therefore, correctional managers should learn how to deal with verbally and physically combative inmates as well as staff members.

In the event of a conflict in the agency, a correctional manager has the prerogative of using negotiation skills, third party mediation, creative response, or option development while dealing with a conflict. The aforementioned conflict management skills will ensure that the involved parties solve their altercations and come to a consensus. However, deploying his skills, the correctional manager will be dependent on the severity of the predicament in question. It is equally important for the manager to ensure that staff members are sober-minded and preserve their authority. Moreover, the manager should make a conscious effort of ensuring that the staff members develop and cultivate supportive relationships, maintain affective ties, and loosen constraints as this will also play a significant role in dealing with conflicts within the agency (Hurley & Hanley, 2010).

The other major aspect in dealing with conflict is the supervision and support staff members who experience direct contact with inmates. This is because a supervisor will set standards that ought to be adhered to and influence employees morale just by working with the officers. However, dealing with conflict in an agency also requires an efficient decision-making process that observes and deals with uncertainty in any predicament by acting appropriately in negating or removing the threat. It is also imperative to begin risk identification and assessment as this will monitor risk indicators thus helping the correctional managers to make informed decisions (Cripe, Pearlman, & Kosiak, 2013).

Moreover, a correctional manager can effectively deal with conflict making sure that staff members conform to the professional expectations of the agencys management. The staff members should also manage conflict by ensuring their actions are in line with the agencys policies and guidelines. Similarly, a correctional manager can deal with the conflict by finding a balance in diversifying the corrections workforce as well as employees perception of unfairness. A correctional manager should also ensure that staff members who work with high security prisoners are specially trained as per their job descriptions. The training might include addressing individuals using minimal force and protecting staff members as well as assessing the individuals who need to be held in high security conditions (Hurley & Hanley, 2010). Similarly, correctional operations should be premised on written policies and procedures that inform and govern staff behavior.

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Even though correctional managers try to resolve conflicts and discipline staff in a fair and effective manner, there are inherent threats that undermine the integrity and ethical actions. An example is a situation where trying to change an established peer culture is confronted with retaliation from individuals who do not support such a change. Rigidity is another example of a threat because it is an impediment to learning the context or nuances of situations and people (Gladwin & McConnell, 2014). Other examples are tensions created by diversity as well as denial or responsibility.

A staff member can be disciplined fairly and effectively by ensuring their offence is followed by a list of potential punishments. Moreover, the punishments should be outlined in a legal document and approved by the appropriate authority (Cripe, Pearlman, & Kosiak, 2013). In addition, the punishment is fair and effective if it teaches the staff member a lesson and makes them undergo a certain detriment. The punishment should also commensurate with the committed transgression. For instance, a sergeant can be demoted to a corporal for having sexual relations with another guard as opposed to firing him. Fair and effective discipline of a staff member can be done only if the manager is certain of the act committed by the staff member not solely relying on allegations. Some of the misconducts that may cause a correctional officer to discipline staff members are sleeping while on duty, neglecting security protocols, racial slurs and homophobic comments directed at inmates. Other examples of disciplinary actions are demotion, suspension, dismissal, and written reprimand (Gladwin & McConnell, 2014).

The first step in progressive discipline is reporting a situation where a staff member has engaged in any activity that violates the stipulated code of conduct (Cripe, Pearlman & Kosiak, 2013). However, there arises a situation where staff members are not willing to disclose an incident to their manager. Then, in such a case, they can contact the senior officer or internal disclosure department. The next step involves the institution head assessing the validity and seriousness of the raised allegations. The following step implies sharing the findings with the Regional Deputy Commissioner. It should be clearly stipulated how the findings have been arrived at. Moreover, the parties involved in the investigation must be fully qualified or trained for the issue under investigation. The commissioner and the correctional manager will then come up with an appropriate punishment or discipline program for the implicated parties depending on the severity of their actions (Hurley & Hanley, 2010).

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However, correction is a highly stressful career, and the management should consider the need for Employee Assistance Programs (EAPS) (Cripe, Pearlman, & Kosiak, 2013). In fact, most institutions had seen staff members resign as a result of substance abuse problems. Moreover, the field of corrections is becoming more complex and affected by court rulings and other legal factors. Therefore, a correctional manager should also strive to ensure the staff members have attained the required legal training and instruction which will enable them to deal with the predicaments they confront. This will negate the levels of conflict within the agency.

Conclusion

The divergent and incompatible goals of treatment in correctional facilities often result in agency conflicts due to ambiguous role expectations. In this regard, conflict managers should exhibit ample conflict resolution skills to solve resulting altercations. After all, conflicts among correctional agencies are normal, and it is the duty of the correctional manager to learn how to effectively manage each case. The common ways of effectively dealing with conflict include negotiation skills and third party mediation. Similarly, disciplining staff members should be done efficiently while the examples of such disciplinary punishments include demotion, suspension or dismissal.

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