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Politics, Power, the Press and Prisons

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Magazine Volume: 69 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2007 Pages: 46-48
Roderick Q. Hickman
Date Published
February 2007
3 pages
This article explains the importance of correctional leaders becoming involved in the world of politics, where funding and policy decisions are made; and it suggests ways in which this can be done effectively through the use of modern media.
Correctional leaders have historically failed to develop relationships and build consensus with key political stakeholders who determine what programs are recognized and funded. There are stakeholders in corrections, however, who are not reluctant to enter the political arena in order to influence elected officials. These stakeholders include correctional employee unions, offender advocacy groups, politicians who see crime issues as a vehicle to get elected, correctional vendors, inmates' attorneys, and religious groups. Correctional agency directors--who have the knowledge, experience, long-range vision, and planning expertise to shape a comprehensive mission for corrections--are left with little input in the politics that ultimately determines the direction of correctional enterprises. The era of continual prison and jail building and crowding is coming to an end. The era of innovation and reengineering requires informed and knowledgeable leadership and advocacy if offender programs are to be designed to reduce reoffending. Correctional leaders must develop strategies for using the media to bring their message to the public and to elected leaders. First, the importance of corrections' role in public safety should be explained to the media. Second, multiple media should be used in communicating both with staff and with those outside the organization. Third, a partnership with the media should be built that is both honest and informative. Finally, correctional should become leaders in the community by using all forms of information dissemination to acquaint community leaders and the public about what corrections is attempting to do and the resources it needs to do it.