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Talk Before the Storm: Your Facility Is Suddenly the Hostage Scene. What Happens Next?

NCJ Number
Corrections Technology and Management Volume: 4 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2000 Pages: 24-26
Robert D. Chadbourne
Date Published
3 pages
This interview with Cecil Pearson, who operates Crisis Management Consulting in Las Vegas, Nev., provides an overview of information on hostage-taking and hostage negotiations needed by corrections line officers who might be involved in dealing with an inmate uprising or becoming a hostage themselves.
According to Pearson, a corrections officer should receive hostage-situation training in the academy's basic training. On-the-job training should then continue so as to update corrections officers on revised crisis-management techniques and strategies of possible hostage-takers. Such training should instruct the officer to cooperate with the hostage negotiator, who is the person ultimately responsible for defusing the situation and preventing injury and loss of life. An effective negotiator focuses on the hostage-taker, without trying to involve any hostage corrections officers. The negotiator should have all the information possible on the inmate hostage-takers. Insufficient documentation on any of the hostage-takers requires that the negotiator closely observe their behavior so as to assess their likely future behavior in the hostage situation. Other issues addressed in this interview are the role of the media in a hostage situation in a prison setting, the reactions of the hostages to the hostage-taker (Stockholm Syndrome), and how to behave if one becomes a hostage. This article is part of an ongoing series.