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Risk Management in Correctional Facilities

Abstract

In any correctional facility, risk management is very important in ensuring safety and management of all potential risks. With a well-organized risk management unit, correctional facilities operate efficiently and hence serving the society adequately. However, in order to ensure that all risks are managed properly all stakeholders should participate in developing an efficient risk management program as a team.

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The main duty of a risk management unit is to protect staff members, inmates, and all community members who participate in operation and efficient running of a correctional center. As such, the risk management officers are fully responsible for maintaining safety and managing risks in a correctional center (Martin and Claire Lee Reiss, 2008). This paper will discuss major risk management issues and provide a number of strategies used by risk management officers to ensure effective risk management in correctional facilities.

Different issues require a correctional center to develop a risk management unit and adopt adequate risk management strategies. Some of the key areas of risk management in correctional centers include safety, security, order, care, programs and daily activity, justice, and administration and management (Martin and Claire Lee Reiss, 2008). These issues are discussed below.

Security

It is very important to protect staff, inmates, and public from any harm in a correctional facility (Sabbatine, 2002). Risk events such as inmates escaping, damage of properties, inmates attacking each other, and cases of violence may be the cause of security risk in a jail. Such risks can cause death, property damage, bodily injuries, and reputation damage of a correctional center. In any correctional center a number of risk events cause these security issues including, bad behaviors by inmates and lack of functional security system (Sabbatine, 2002). To avoid such problems, the risk management department should establish proper and functional security system, supervise inmates properly, train staff adequately, and constantly carry out inspections (Martin and Rosazza, 2004).

Order

In any correctional facility, it is important to maintain orderly environment to have clear expectations and accountability (American Correctional Association, 2004). Maintaining order in a jail or prison ensures that inmates and staff members adhere to rules and regulations. Inmates’ misconducts are the cause of lack of order in a correctional center (Sabbatine, 2002). Such misconducts by inmates can result to property damage, death of inmates or staff, poor reputation of the correctional center, and increased repair expenses. To maintain order, the risk management team must be fully aware of events that cause lack of order. The risk management team should therefore develop an appropriate disciplinary system to ensure order. In addition, it is important to implement a well-developed communication system, manage behaviors of inmates and staff members, and finally, it is important to train staff members adequately (American Correctional Association, 2004).

Care

Any functional correctional facility must provide inmates with basic needs. Among the basic needs include maintaining proper healthcare (Martin and Rosazza, 2004). Providing inmates with good medical care reduces health risks in a jail. In most correction facilities, low quality food, unhygienic environment, and lack of proper medical care are the major risks in this category. Such risks can cause death of inmates, illness, and spread of diseases. To avoid such risks in a correctional center, the risk management unit should ensure that inmates receive quality healthcare, they eat quality food, and the environment is hygienic. With regular screening of inmates and staff, training staff members, and implementation of an appropriate health emergency program, all health risks are eliminated (Martin and Rosazza, 2004).

Safety

A safe correctional center provides adequate safety to contractors, volunteers, inmates, staff, and the public in general (Martin and Claire Lee Reiss, 2008). However, a number of risks events cause safety risks in any correctional facility. Accidents of staff and inmates, illness affecting both staff and inmates, and failure by officers to protect inmates are among the few factors that cause safety risks in a jail. Such risks may cause death, damage of properties, and time wastage.

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A number of risks can cause safety hazard in correctional center, which include fire outbreaks, biological hazards, natural calamities, and poor vehicle usage. In order to avoid and control such risks, the risk management team should maintain general cleanliness, manage use of hazardous materials, train staffs, develop an emergency plan, carry out regular inspection, and always adhere to safety measures (Martin and Rosazza, 2004).

Program and daily activities

In order to ensure that inmates are accepted once they are back to the community, they are kept fully occupied during the time they are in a correctional center (Sabbatine, 2002). As such, they are assigned different activities on a daily basis. This also plays a vital role in reducing effects of confinement (Sabbatine, 2002). However, failure to implement this program properly may cause severe risks. Such risks may result in violence at the correctional center, resistance by inmates, property damage, and death (Sabbatine, 2002). The risk management unit is responsibility for reducing these risks. To ensure minimal risks, the management should ensure adequate supervision of all programs and provision of appropriate facilities and equipment necessary to run all programs effectively (Martin and Claire Lee Reiss, 2008).

Justice

All inmates have right to fair treatment, protection from discrimination and abuse, and right to communicate with people outside the correctional center (Martin and Claire Lee Reiss, 2008). However, in some cases inmate experience some problems, which pose major risks. Some of the major risks in this category include treating inmates unfairly, blocking inmates from communicating with outsiders, and blocking inmates from accessing their lawyers (Martin and Claire Lee Reiss, 2008).

These risks may cause chaos, suicide thoughts by inmates, reputation damage of a correctional center, and increased danger to the community members. To reduce these risks, the risk management team is responsible for establishing an information system that does proper orientation to inmates, providing an environment that allows inmates to air their grievances and training staff on how to treat inmates properly (Martin and Claire Lee Reiss, 2008).

Administration and management

In any correctional center, the administration has a responsibility of maintaining the facility. As such, the administration should manage the workforce efficiently to maintain ethical standards, which involves defining organization structure and leadership, executing proper policies, and developing good management practices (Martin and Claire Lee Reiss, 2008). However, in the process of ensuring proper management, there are potential risks that normally arise. Such risks include corruption, discloser of confidential information to inmates, discrimination of inmates, and unethical behavior by staff members (Sabbatine, 2002). Because of these issues, the risk management department should ensure safe work place, ethical standards are adhered to, maintain adequate records system and ensure that staff members are acting in a professional manner (Sabbatine, 2002).

In conclusion, the role of risk management unit is very important in maintaining safety and managing risks in all correctional facilities. In order to ensure that all risks are managed properly in a correctional center, all stakeholders need to develop an efficient risk management program as a team. This is because the duty of ensuring safety is not only the task of risk manager alone, but it is also the duty of all involved stakeholders (Sabbatine, 2002). With proper risk management, a correctional center will run efficiently.

Reference List

American Correctional Association. (2004). Performance-Based Standards for Adult Local Detention Facilities. (4th edn.). Alexandria: American Correctional Association.

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Martin M. D., & Claire Lee Reiss, J. D. (2008). Managing risks in Jails. Web.

Martin, M.D., & Rosazza, T.A. (2004). Resource Guide for Jail Administrators. Washington: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections.

Sabbatine, R. (2002). Jail Risk Management Manual. Frankfort: Kentucky Association of Counties.

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