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Washington General Prison Talk, News, Introductions & Chit Chat Topics & Discussions relating to Prison & the Criminal Justice System in Washington that do not fit into any other Washington sub-forum category. Please feel free to also introduce yourself to other members in the state and talk about whatever topics come to mind that may not have anything to do with prison.

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  #1  
Old 06-02-2017, 01:23 PM
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Default How much longer is Washington DOC going to get away with this?

It's only a matter of time before our loved one is injured, or killed while in The Washington DOC system. There is ZERO accountability in anyone of these Prisons. They do as they please knowing perfectly well there will be no action taken against them. The snitches and rats follow the rules of the c/o's to get "special treatment" while the ones that follow the rules are punished. A trumped up charge is levied against them that was witnessed but a snitch or rat and backed up by a c/o, off to the hole you go, and moved to yet another new prison, with all of your belongings being lost, destroyed, or stolen. You go there Mr. big Jailor with a chip on your shoulder. Take it out on someone who CAN NOT do anything to you because he must play by the rules. How many more people are we going to let them kill and get away with it?? Or are we going to just bury our head and say, " what can I do " This has got to stop and they have to be punished for the crimes they commit!
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:22 PM
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I think all of us here can relate to your anger at the system. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are certainly CO's who use the system to lord power over everyone. I can also say, though, that there are some very good CO's who treat people with respect and dignity while still doing their job of maintaining a safe environment for both the incarcerated individuals and the staff. Just like every job, there are good people and bad people. Unfortunately, the system is set up not only to protect the bad apples, but in some cases, to encourage such behavior.

I have no idea how to begin fixing the system. At this point, I often think the only way to do it would be to start from scratch. A sort of scorched earth policy. But in the current political climate, with people in the inner White House circle being financially invested in private prisons, I doubt much of anything will change anytime soon.

Perhaps some day we can join Western Europe in embracing the true reform system, but until such time as that happens, we all have to grin and bear it. That statement includes many of the "good" CO's who would also like to see the system change, but know that if they try, they'll be fired and it's possible that someone worse than them will take their place.
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:23 AM
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Yes it's always DOC's fault.
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:27 AM
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Yes it's always DOC's fault.
They're very much the ones in charge, aren't they? The only place authority comes before responsibility is in the dictionary.
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Old 06-07-2017, 05:58 AM
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Yes it's always DOC's fault.
A very wise man once told me "There is no such thing as an organization, only people."

DOC (all of them, for all states) have a corporate culture as much as any other large organization. I'm sure it's made up of good people and not-so-good people, just like any other large organization.

What DOC has that most other large organizations do not have is absolute power over other individuals. Much like the police, this means that the not-so-good people can, actively or passively, have a much greater impact over the lives (and deaths) of those whom they oversee.

I know of one man who died needlessly because a guard refused to respond to an inmates request for a "man down" (the man down in question was down because of a heart attack - most likely, CPR and an ambulance could have saved his life as he was still conscious and talking when he was down initially). The more inmates approached said guard, the more he refused to go see.

I also know of one man who nearly died after over a year of medical complaints. They did get him to a hospital after he collapsed in a shower. One emergency operation and 4 more scheduled operations later and the doctors managed to save his life.

And I know of one man who was diagnosed and successfully treated for cancer. He's been in full remission for over a decade now.

And I know of one man, my father, who was given the best treatment DOC could provide to keep him comfortable as he died of an untreatable, incurable cancer.

I know of several guards who gave my their sympathies when I visited my Dad at his home institution because they genuinely cared that my Dad was dying and that I was having to witness it. The head of the hospice program was extremely supportive of me, and did the best she could with what she had to work with. She described what she had to work with as a "MASH unit". And one guard dodged the rules to pass me her sympathies after my Dad died.

Is it DOC's fault? No. DOC is made up of people. Some people really like wielding power over others - these people tend to be drawn to jobs where they get to have power over others. Some people are genuinely caring and trying to make the world a better place when they become CO's or staff.

The question then becomes: How do we get the latter type of people into positions of authority over those who are the former type? How do we change the 'corporate culture' in the system? Is it even possible to change the culture without having to raze the system?

Obviously the bad apples are the ones who get the press and draw the most attention. Just like with the police. We don't hear about the good people (except in posts like this) because they aren't causing us distress.

I think MinorActivist's ideas about the Ombudsman is a way of trying to address exactly that - how to change the corporate culture. By having a neutral third party who has oversight over the most egregious issues, the middling and good people will start putting pressure on the bad apples so that they aren't the target of an investigation.

I'm sorry you felt attacked, WA CCO. I have seen nothing in any of your posts to indicate that you are anything other than one of the good people. The very fact that you are here offering insight and advice to those of us who need it most proves to me that you are not part of the problem. How to eliminate those who ARE the problem is a very difficult multi-faceted issue.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:47 AM
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I nominate GingerM's post above for the Best of PTO award. It's too bad that award doesn't exist.

Besides the kind of problems the OP has, there's certainly some that are the fault of state underfunding too.

I blame leadership for the communications stoppages. The public comments on the FixDOC web site had a lot of comments from correctional officers who didn't trust the brass to listen to their concerns. I chatted with a former legislator once who had been on inspection tours. One thing he remembered was the administrations working hard to prevent him from talking with the people walking the tiers. That's not healthy management. He made it sound like a visit to North Korea.

It wasn't the state, it wasn't my legislator, but one item I sent to my Congresswoman got me a call from one of her staffers who said "We had no idea that was going on". Let that sink in. Everything points to the state legislature having the same problem with the WA DOC. An ombuds office would help them know what's going on.

That only helps with some problems. For outright criminal activity we also need WA CCO's suggestion of an Inspector General. OP is accusing people of falsifying reports if I understand right.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerM View Post
A very wise man once told me "There is no such thing as an organization, only people."

DOC (all of them, for all states) have a corporate culture as much as any other large organization. I'm sure it's made up of good people and not-so-good people, just like any other large organization.
This is so true - I work for one of the largest (if not THE largest) corporations in the world and we certainly have a corporate culture that in so many ways mirrors that of most Department of Corrections throughout the US. I can create a presentation for my company, and then use exactly the same material, with only the names changed to protect the innocent, with folks from the prison system. The dynamics are identical.

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Originally Posted by GingerM View Post
Is it DOC's fault? No. DOC is made up of people. Some people really like wielding power over others - these people tend to be drawn to jobs where they get to have power over others. Some people are genuinely caring and trying to make the world a better place when they become CO's or staff.

The question then becomes: How do we get the latter type of people into positions of authority over those who are the former type? How do we change the 'corporate culture' in the system? Is it even possible to change the culture without having to raze the system?
I don't think that's the question. I think the question is developing a developmentally aware organization where people are motivated to grow and become better people. Again, this is mirrored virtually in every other organization, whether Church, Educational, Corporate or Government. Robert Kegan, in his book, Everyone Culture: A Radical New Model for Work, Career, and Leadership writes;

“In an ordinary organization most people are doing a second job no one is paying them for. In businesses large and small; in government agencies, schools and hospitals; in for-profits and nonprofits and in any country in the world, most people are spending time and energy covering up their weaknesses, manipulating other people’s impressions of them, showing themselves to their best advantage, playing politics, hiding their inadequacies, hiding their uncertainties, hiding their limitations – hiding.
We regard this as the single biggest loss of resources that organizations suffer every day.

A deliberately developmental organization, in contrast, takes all those activities and makes them conscious – makes working on them an intrinsic part the job and the business itself – and with the specific aim of growing or developing people at the same time you grow the culture – a deliberately developmental organization"

At the management level of the Oregon Department of Corrections, this conversation is happening - but for it to trickle down to line staff will take a while. Attitudes ARE hard to change, and the culture is one of "us against them", which happens, coincidentally, to virtually mirror the inmate culture. If both grounds could talk, one would be really impressed with how much they have in common.

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I'm sorry you felt attacked, WA CCO.
I did not feel he/she felt attacked in any way. They were just making a statement. And, one I personally resonate with - I know so many folks in the WA/DOC who manage to do their time and stay out of the drama that other people seem to work overtime to create.

"Snitches and rats" only can snitch and rat if one does something to be snitched and ratted on or about. Stay out of trouble, create a positive reputation, and the problem tends to go away. There may be very isolated incidents, but there, in my experience, is always a cause behind it.

On the positive side, I'm doing a workshop in September at WSR sponsored by the Lifers and Black Prisoner's Caucus around some of these very issues. Giving folks the vocabulary to upgrade a "victim stance" to something more actually helpful is one of my personal missions.
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Old 06-08-2017, 05:15 AM
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There's a special place in heaven for people like you, Scott (no, that's not facetious, I mean it genuinely).
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  #9  
Old 06-11-2017, 12:35 PM
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So I had originally wrote a long version but lost to a glitch, so here's the jist.

In my opinion/experience, if family, friends or the offender are mad at DOC, 9/10 times the blame is on the offender. All three minimize the behavior. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "well at least he's not raping or murdering someone."

Next they're mad because DOC has taken action based on a RCW, WAC, law suit, AG opinion or policy. Swift and Certain is a great example. The law mandates an arrest for any willful violation, no matter how petty it may seem.

Finally, offender/employe conflict. Which in most cases is a personality conflict.

Are there bad employees? Yes of course but IHMO they don't stick around long as they don't enjoy the work. However, there a few who do stick around. Just as there offenders who I think will never change their ways.

Corporate culture. Just keep in mind how many prisons, work releases and field offices there state wide and how any decision has a ripple affect on them.
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:20 AM
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How would you describe the corporate culture?
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