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Security and Technology (New Technologies; Conferences; and Managing Gangs and Threats)
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global
Published: 12/21/2020

Secutitycontrolarea2009apr0 Security and technology are our topics for this month. This includes managing security threat groups and other threats. The year 2020 will continue to be a challenge to corrections as well as other professions. Each month for 2020 has created additional COVID challenges from testing; housing infected offenders, meeting medical needs; officers also infected with the COVID virus and additional challenges this virus has created. In many states we are witnessing record increases in positive cases and states have tried implementing an array of tactics in efforts to help control for the virus spread. Opposite this are those individuals that feel they should not be forced to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Yet, some businesses have been granted approval to remain open while others are forced to close or be subject to arrest and fines. This has contributed to our country pulling further apart.

The fallout from COVID placed an undue burden on workers in all fields leading up to loss of employment and additional negative impacts. This is even more so for certain jobs and businesses. We can also consider the impact on resources and it now looks like even more positive cases. On top of this, we now see the first vaccines becoming available and conflicts on who should receive first. Looks like more legal challenges and we may wonder what 2021 holds. As if this is not enough, flu season and the holidays are upon us. We continue to see our children remaining at home and having to learn from online education. This creates additional strains on families in many ways.

I read recently we are also seeing an increase in liquor sales and this often leads to more domestic abuse cases. We are also seeing increases in an already burdened mental health system. Yet, we must come together and be proactive in meeting these additional stressors to overcome the many challenges. Are these going to be present in 2021? Personally, I feel yes and this continues to increase globally.

We continue to see the additional challenges faced by corrections personnel on a daily basis. Ongoing expenditures and drain on resources continues. Many of these cannot be avoided and add extra stress and strains previously not planned for. This will once again cause panics and affect the delivery of supplies needed on a daily basis. Another area that surfaces is loss of many corrections and other law enforcement officers. We know when this begins to occur there is an increase in safety and security concerns; not only for the inmate population but also upon our officers. This includes officers and staff at our prisons, as well as staff working probation, parole, and other. Even though the pandemic is in place we need to look at all uniform and non-uniform personnel in areas not often discussed. (Food service, counseling, laundry, medical, mental health, visitation, recreation, security, transportation, and others). Recognizing these individuals is a must and letting them how much they are appreciated is a must.

Corrections must further develop recruitment strategies for one of our most precious resources; our personnel. We cannot afford to just hire a persons, but those with specific skill sets to work in an ever changing and challenging corrections system. Some states have implemented Vocational Programs for inmates to learn marketable job skills. These programs also face some challenges with restrictions on work force numbers and COVID. We still have release mechanisms in place and, as mentioned previously, these also create challenges for supervising offenders on probation and parole. This will be also interesting to follow as a lot of research is underway with COVID effects on recidivism and rehabilitation.

Technology continues to be a concern and, for the most part, has been favorable in maintaining extra security precautions and measures. Yet, a certain segment of society continues to use these same technologies for the criminal elements. We still experience problems with cell phones in our prisons; use of drones to deliver certain contraband items; use of technology in monitoring offenders on release; tracking offenders and officers in our prisons; and unfortunately some staff choose to become involved in delivering contraband. In addition, we have to consider the use of the COVID vaccines and what issues this will create.

Needless to say, we continue to meet the challenges and often must test our patience. Yet, we will overcome and those working in corrections will continue to be pushed to the limits. Regardless, I for one, as well as others, appreciate the job and sacrifices you make on a daily basis.

Thank you and stay safe out there.

Terry Campbell is a criminal justice professor at Purdue University Global and has more than 20 years of experience in corrections and policing. He has served in various roles, including prison warden and parole administrator, for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Terry may be reached at tcampbell@purdueglobal.edu.

Other articles by Campbell


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