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Strengthening Correctional Culture: Eight Ways Corrections Leaders Can Support Their Staff To Reduce Recidivism

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2018
8 pages
Given that the primary goal of corrections is to manage offenders so that they will not reoffend, this guide outlines eight ways that corrections leaders can create a correctional culture that is effective in reducing recidivism.
The first step in changing an organizational culture is to determine how staff view the organization. The focus should be on mid-level management personnel, who are responsible for ensuring that frontline corrections staff are committed to principles of recidivism reduction. A correctional climate questionnaire geared to mid-level management is provided. A second step in the cultural change effort is to demonstrate commitment from the top. This means that corrections leaders must show they are fully committed to implementing the recidivism-reduction initiative, so front-line personnel will know their performance will be measured by its contribution to this goal. The third step is to provide staff with the tools they need, which includes training in evidence-based practices proven effective in reducing recidivism. The fourth step is to promote clear, consistent, and regular internal and external messaging. This involves having a communication strategy that engages and empowers staff to conduct a recidivism-reduction initiative. The fifth step is to show staff that the initiative is here to stay and that frustration, confusion, and exhaustion related to organizational change will not deter leaders' commitment to change a prison's culture so inmates are prepared to desist from crime when they are released. Remaining steps are to use enthusiastic staff as a resource for encouraging buy-in to new practices among their peers; offer positive reinforcement early and often; and measure and report outcomes. Corrections staff need to be shown that the changes being made bring intended results.