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Identifying Core Competencies and Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) for Jail Leaders: Methods and Outcomes

NCJ Number
Cindy J. Smith Ph.D.; Jeanne B Stinchcomb Ph.D.; Susan W. McCampbell; Christina Mancini Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2011
59 pages
Following a comprehensive literature review of publications relevant to the identification of the core competencies of successful jail leaders, this report describes the methodology used in the current project in identifying the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by an effective jail leader.
The literature review found that current research lacks a consensus definition of "core competency" for jail administrators, validation of key competencies, or significant discussion about competencies specifically for jail administrators. Despite these gaps in the literature, however, there is consensus concerning ideal competencies critical to the successful management of correctional institutions. Based largely on the literature review, these competencies were consolidated into 1 list of 30 core competencies for jail administrators, divided into 3 categories. One category was "professional," which pertains to the function effective jail leaders must be able to perform. The second category, "subject matter expertise (SME)," refers to the expertise that is essential for successful jail leadership. The third category, "personal," pertains to teachable trait's the best jail leaders must demonstrate. Tables display the 30 core competencies of effective jail administrators under these three categories. The aforementioned list of core competencies became the foundation for conducting exercises designed to validate a final list of core competencies, using a national advisory committee composed of sheriffs and jail administrators who represented diverse geographic locations and facility sizes. From the 35 core competencies developed by the advisory committee, further refinement of the list was determined to be required in order to reduce core competencies to a number that would be more manageable during the next steps, which involved determining the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) associated with the core competencies. The details of these next steps are described, and the KSA charts provided in this report reflect the cumulative results of the consensus-building process. 4 tables/charts, 14 references, 7 appendixes with supplementary details on the process and outcome, and 7 endnotes