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Quest for Collaboration and Cooperation: Communication is the Most Demanding Adjustment Between Contract Education Providers and Department of Corrections Staff in Achieving a Joint Perspective of Service Coordination

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 54 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2003 Pages: 98-104
W. Mark Jensen J.D.
Carolyn Eggleston
Date Published
September 2003
7 pages
This article describes the challenges impacting both the educational and correctional staffs at the Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility in Omaha, NE, and how the joint effort of both staffs resulted in an organizational structure with improved communication and collaborative decisionmaking and has fostered organizational synergy.
States have been recognizing the need for specialized and separate facilities for youthful offenders convicted and sentenced as adults. The State of Nebraska built such a facility, the Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility (NCYF) designed specifically to house only violent and aggressive youth serving time as adults. NCYF is a highly structured environment. It is unique in that all inmates at NCYF are also students, requiring them to attend school 5-days a week, 3-hours a day. The department contracts with a community college to provide education programming at all facilities including NCYF. However, there are challenges in implementing and maintaining an education program in a system dedicated to the control and management of its students. This article describes these challenges and potential conflicts and discusses the basis for collaboration and the emergence of alternative strategies which include: (1) an agreement or contract between the education staff and student setting the terms of his/her enrollment at school; (2) when a student violates the program agreement, he/she is separated from the rest of the population; (3) all students receive quarterly progress reports; (4) education staff now serve as voting members on the unit classification committee; (5) the creation of a resource center; (6) the display of authority to provide a calming effect on inmates; and (7) students exhibiting inappropriate or disruptive behavior in the classroom can become the subject of a mental health referral. The long range effect of collaboration will be an organization that can offer excellence to its clients, the inmates, and the taxpayers of Nebraska. References