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Corrections Connection: This Week In Corrections


We begin July's focus, threat groups, with the history and use of the ‘Santisima Muerte’ or ‘Holy Death’ image found on those in gangs like MS-13. The piece comes to us from Tony Kail, Director of the Forensic Theology Resource Center, which provides training on religious groups and ritualistic crime.

We hope your July 4th rituals weren’t as spooky as the images in the article. In fact, all of us here at Corrections.com hope you and your family had a safe and fun July 4th holiday.

Tell us what you think at editor@corrections.com.


Santisima Muerte: Patron saint of security threat groups

By Tony Kail

Tracing the protective power of criminal activity

As a security threat group coordinator you may discover a mysterious image that has been appearing on the skin and in the writings of a number of criminal organizations. ‘Santisima Muerte’ or ‘Holy Death’ is an image that is finding popularity among members of such gangs as MS-13 as well as members of Mexican drug cartels.

The image typically appears as a skeletal figure holding a bladed sickle or a globe. Its exact origins are unknown, but there are a number of speculations that the icon comes from a mixture of Aztec heritage, Spanish Catholicism and even African religious culture. Regardless of the figure’s origin, its current symbolism has criminal justice professionals concerned. More

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Regarding Anticipate and prevent, 6/21/07

It is natural for human beings to do everything possible to avoid dying. Why then would someone choose suicide over life? Suicide comes about when people are in an intensely painful emotional state. They lose hope and see no resolution to their difficulties.

There are many reasons why one might take such a drastic action. It is rare to find a single cause of suicide. Having a comprehensive training course with policies and procedures is a great help for guiding officers who are new to the corrections setting. Learning about social isolation, loneliness, intense embarrassment or humiliation associated with being arrested, severe depression, alcohol or other substance abuse are just a few potential reasons that should be studied.
Ofc. Michael Urbistondo
Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator, Miami-Dade Corrections & Rehabilitation Dept.

Regarding Check it at the gate, avoid the burnout, 6/13/07

I'm a CO in Ontario, Canada, and have been for about 13 years. I have been in tense situations involving rioting inmates, been bitten by an inmate, and had urine thrown at me. All of these situations were initially stressful, but I found that having effective coping mechanisms helped me immensely.

On of which is the subject of your post. Working in a medium security male institution with violent inmates made it necessary for me to put on a different persona when I put on my uniform. I was no longer "Joe Public", husband, and father, but I was a "Guard" with the responsibility of protecting society from dangerous offenders.

I also was told very early on in my career to make sure I had something or someone that turned me on other than corrections, because if I didn't I would take my job way more seriously than I ought to.

I have been blessed with a wife who monitors my emotional state and reminds me not to bring my work home. As well, I have a very strong religious faith that helps me "dial down" when I get too stressed. Corrections is a very demanding field, and will change you for better or worse. The smart CO is the one who has all the checks and balances in place and realizes that at the end of the day, what matters most is not what happens on the job, but the relationships you have with your family, your faith, and your friends.
RB, Ontario

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What makes you, you? We are currently looking for stories about what you do on your off time. Tell us about your favortie and unique hobbies and activities. We'll post them in August for our focus issue - Off the Clock - What practitioners do in their leisure time.

Send your stories to editor@corrections.com


Developing Stories

Upcoming stories on Corrections.com and the Corrections Connection ezine

  • It’s not Disney World - Florida gangs
  • Oregon Housing
  • Plea Bargaining

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Focus Issues 2007

Off the Clock - What practitioners do in their leisure time - Tell us what you do in your off time.

Education & Training - What’s new from area conferences

Health - Coverage of current health issues and programs

Submit an idea for a focus issue


Prospect for change, a push for voter rights

The issue of voting rights for individuals with a felony conviction is on the rise across the United States. More

Back to the basics for effective leadership

By 2011 one in every 178 U.S. residents will live in prison, according to a report entitled, Public Safety, Public Spending: Forecasting America’s Prison Population 2007-2011 prepared by The Pew Charitable Trusts Public Safety Performance Project. More

Mission: Success - Indicators to assault

When we speak about the use of force, I notice more and more that officers either need or want the green light before they act. When it comes to the use of force COs deep down have an intimate fear of either reacting too soon, not at the right time, or not at all. They have a natural ingrained fear of the criminal themselves, or their administration for not supporting their actions or decisions, or of their peers for not having their backs because of those very same reasons. More


BINJ Laboratories

BINJ Laboratories, Inc. is an innovative technology company that specializes in cell phone and signal detection, defense electronics, and corrections and public safety communications. Led by three electronic warfare engineers with over 100 years in system engineering experience, BINJ Labs has developed a first-of-its-kind, wireless Cell Phone Detection System under the direction of corrections technologists from the Federal Bureau of Prison, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts Department of Corrections. Learn more.

Federal Bureau of Prisons licenses ATG’s pharmacy administration system

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) has licensed ATG’s Pharmacy Administration System for all its 114 institutions nationwide. The system has been successfully piloted and full deployment is expected to be completed in 24 months. More

Community Education Centers acquires CiviGenics

Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC), the leading provider of offender reentry services, today announced that it has acquired CiviGenics, Marlborough, Mass., the largest provider of in-prison treatment programs. More

PCS Awarded the San Diego County Sheriff's Detention Facilities, California Inmate Telephone Service Contract

Public Communications Services, Inc. the industry leader in providing inmate communications solutions to the corrections industry, is pleased to announce that San Diego County, California Sheriff's Department has signed a 3 year contract with PCS, Inc. for their inmate telephone services. More


New Orange County Director

Michael Tidwell will become Director of Florida’s Orange County Corrections Department July 14th. He replaces Timothy Ryan who left the department last December to be Miami-Dade County’s Director of Corrections. Read more

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Anger Management Certification Training

Date: 7/12 - 7/13/07
40-hour certification training programs. Option 1- Live training (2 days) followed by online training modules. Option 2- Home study program. Consists of DVD plus online training modules.More

National Commission on Correctional Health Care Mental Health Conference in Las Vegas

Date: 7/15 - 7/16/07
Mental health care providers, administrators and others responsible for treating the mentally ill in correctional settings will gather in Las Vegas July 15-16 for the National Commission on Correctional Health Care’s mental health conference, Correctional Mental Health: Bridging the Gap More

Stress Management for Women

Date: 7/16 - 7/16/07
In this course you will learn proven strategies and tactics to: -Attack stress at its source. -Know the 7 major causes of stress and how to neutralize them. -Defeat workplace stress.More


I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.
- Patrick Henry (1736 - 1799), (Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775)


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