Correctional environments must be free of violence. This foundation is necessary for any improved conditions and culture to thrive. Leadership should understand the connection between safety and positive relationships rooted in care and trust among those who live and work in correctional settings.

Pathways to creating safety in carceral settings

1. Establish a workgroup of corrections professionals and incarcerated people to review policies and procedures related to custody and control to ensure that they align with this Safety Principle.

  • a. If restraints cannot be completely eliminated, use-of-force policies should limit their use.
  • b. Policies governing the conduct of corrections professionals should encourage positive interactions and familiarity between corrections professionals and incarcerated people.

Assess staffing structure to ensure that corrections professionals’ assigned roles and responsibilities align with the concept of dynamic security. Hire and/or repurpose corrections professionals to improve current staffing ratios.

2. Ensure all corrections professionals are trained in alignment with the concept of dynamic security so that everyone is safe; can create and maintain strong, productive relationships; and understands the purpose of their role. Implement training and development programs that encourage staff to find purpose within their respective roles. The staff training academy curriculum should cover a comprehensive range of subjects, including

  • a. communication skills and group facilitation;
  • b. family engagement;
  • c. restorative practices and accountability;
  • d. de-escalation techniques;
  • e. reentry planning;
  • f. dynamic security;
  • g. self-care and wellness strategies;
  • h. cultural competency and racial equity;
  • i. LGBTQ+ inclusion;
  • j. how to interact with people who have physical, sensory, or intellectual disabilities or a mental illness;
  • k. trauma-informed care practices;
  • l. boundary setting (to include refraining from inappropriate or prohibited activity); and
  • m. sexual health.

3. Ensure that everyone has access to mental health counseling.

  • a. Provide counselors for each housing unit by either using internal staff or creating community partnership opportunities.
  • b. Provide training about and access to peer counseling for corrections professionals and incarcerated people.

4. Address physical plant components to create a safe environment.

  • a. Assess physical structures to ensure they meet architectural safety standards.
  • b. Conduct a facility audit to identify structural issues and opportunities to ensure the physical space is conducive to human dignity and healing.
  • c. Employ strategies using architectural changes to reduce the capacity of correctional facilities, thereby reducing the number of people incarcerated.
  • d. Repurpose areas of housing units to serve as intentional and productive community spaces, such as a conflict resolution room, spirituality room, study room, barbershop, library, decompression room, or computer room.
  • e. Reduce cold and hard surfaces, like concrete and steel, that contribute to sensory deprivation.
  • f. Replace bolted, steel, and aluminum furniture with soft, movable furniture like couches made of fabric and wood, to create a more sensory-friendly environment with neither sensory deprivation nor a constant barrage of loud noises.

Safety Principle resources