By: Dr. James Houston
2900 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Tel: (616) 575-9049
A disturbance in May, 1991 (Raab, 1991) at a new high security institution in upstate New York could have been averted if seven officers had not left their posts to have lunch or take unauthorized breaks. The State Correction Commission released their report that supported the contention of State Correction Commissioner, Thomas A. Coughlin that the officers, by leaving about 55 inmates unsupervised in an outdoor recreation area resulted in the disturbance.
The Southport Correctional Facility near Elmira, New York had been open for less than a year and suffered a rebellion resulting in five officers taken hostage. No deaths were reported, but one officer was reported seriously injured. The institution, designed to house the most intractable inmates in the New York system, houses 650 inmates and endured the 26 hour incident in May, 1991.
Thomas P. Kennedy, head of the union that represents the officers said the commission report made scapegoats of the officers to protect prison officials. "It was nothing more than a political whitewash by a state agency protecting another state agency", Mr. Kennedy stated. Other union officials denied that the seven officers had left their posts without authorization.
The Southport institution was converted from an ordinary maximum security prison as prison authorities were discharging about 600 officers and 800 civilians statewide at the same time the prison population was rising above 56,000 inmates. Budget cuts and dismissals of about 40 officers at Southport led to claims by the union before the uprising that Southport was unsafe and the 230 officers there were overworked.
Major findings of the commission included:
The security lapses in which officers were not at their posts on May 28 were known or should have been known by prison supervisors.
Friction between the union and prison officials led low morale among officers and contributed to poor living conditions for inmates.
Southport officers received only eight hours of specialized training instead of two o three days as originally planned.
1. Learn the importance of a mission statement and how to write a mission statement.
2. Compare mission statements of organizations with sound practice.
3. Learn how to write effective policy and procedures.
4. Learn the importance of the role of the Chief Executive Officer.
Criminal justice organizations are human contrivances designed to preserve the peace, prosecute trials of the accused, and to supervise those persons found guilty of violation of the law. As human organizations, they can, and are, influenced by variables such as differing values, agendas, and day to day problems that plague us all.
Each organization has a defined set of goals, both informal and formal. No the only can they work in opposition to each other, conflicting aims can thwart the mission of the organization to the extent that neither the public or employees are sure of the mission or the organization. Formal goals are those goals established by the organization and its managers as desirable results of concerted action (Houston, 1995). They should be clearly stated in the organization's charter, mission statement, or in key statements by the head of the organization. Goals are also often specified in the Management by Objective (MBO) annual statement. Clearly, there must be a statement of some kind that spells out what the overall objective of the organization.
In an earlier work, Houston (1995) points out that a mission statement as a "provides direction in formulating goals". In addison, the mission statement is defined as "an enduring statement of purpose that distinguishes an organization from other similar enterprises" (David, 1986). Boseman and Phatak (1989) define a mission statement as the purpose society expects of the organization and its responsibilities as an organization. Dupree (1990) views a mission statement as a "broad, general statement which describes the operational philosophy of a correctional organization".
From these definitions we can see that generally speaking, the mission statement broadly addresses the following (Dupree, 1990):
A mission statement is important because it reveals the vision of the organization's managers and employees and is the foundation upon which policies, procedures, and objectives rest. A mission statement identifies what it wants to do in the long term and whom it wants to serve. It should motivate employees; it should establish a general organizational attitude, explain how resources are allocated and impart the vision of the leaders and elected officials.
DEVELOPING A MISSION STATEMENT
A mission statement captures the organizational philosophy, its goals, and visions. Developing a mission statement is often tricky since the general philosophy, goal, and vision of a policy is developed in a political setting. This is exactly why it is so important for practitioners to understand the policy cycle and political precess. As we explored extensively in Part II of this text, the politics of crime produce conflicting views as to what causes crime and consequently what to do about crime. In spite of the disagreement over what to do, there is an overwhelming consensus that government needs to have a crime policy. Because of the politics of the crime issue, criminal justice practitioners are often asked to implement policies with conflicting philosophies, goals, and objectives.
Thus, the ability of crime agency personnel to develop clear mission statements is severely limited by conflicting forces outside the agency's immediate control. Agency personnel must be able to recognize the political aspects of the policy to be implemented and respond appropriately when developing mission statements. If crime agency personnel identify conflicting policy goals and objectives, then officials can at least better understand what prompted government directives. Agencies may not be able to ignore conflicting orders, but they can at least be in position to foresee implementation problems and be better equipped to manage personnel who are pulled in two different directions.
The practitioner should not assume that problems in developing mission statements are solely due to outside political forces. Much of the problem in developing a mission statement stems from problems that can occur within the agency. Individual employees may see the role of the organization in a different light or at least somewhat differently that his or her colleague. Therefore, when writing a mission statement is of the utmost importance to gain a measure of consensus among employees in what the organization aims to accomplish.
One important, but often overlooked factor is input from the community. Dupree (1990) points out that representatives of government, other criminal justice agencies, community agencies, and the public should be actively encouraged to participate in the success or failure of the organization. This can be accomplished by the creation of a community advisory committee that reflects the makeup of the community. This committee can be an active participant in the development of a mission statement or its input can be made via the administrator who must sit in on both the advisory committee's meetings and the agency's meeting.
Obtaining consensus on a statement will take a good deal of time and require numerous discussions of the issues. A complication of the discussions is the fact that positions taken on issues must be consistent with the law, accrediting agencies such a the International Association of Chiefs of Police or the American Correctional Association as well as criminal justice court related decisions. There inevitably will be compromise in order to meet a complicated list of criteria.
There is no established format, but we can use certain criteria to aid us in our deliberations and writing. Dupree (1990) is helpful in this regard. He asserts that the following criteria must be met. Broad focus. No mission statement should attempt to address all issues. Only key concerns that are broad in scope should be addressed and never should the writers include elements of day to day operation.
Concise. A major problem of bureaucrats is to be concise in their writing. However, painful it is, the mission statement should be written as simply as possible. If at all possible it should be limited to one paragraph.
Clear and unmistakable. Avoid jargon peculiar to the agency. The mission statement should be understandable to people outside of the agency who have no knowledge of law enforcement, courts, or corrections.
Impart a vision. The mission statement should reflect the organization's future and not it's past. The statement should convey the leaders vision of the future and the overall philosophy of the organization.
Realistic and attainable. The goals and philosophy stated or implied in the statement must be realistic and attainable.
Positive. The mission statement defines the future of the organization and therefore must be positive and focus on what will be done and not what cannot be done.
Once the leaders and managers have determined to develop a mission statement, the task can be approached in one of two ways. The first is to adequately train the division or department heads on the specifics of developing a mission statement. They will then work with their subordinates to write the mission statement. The division heads or department heads will then meet together with the CEO and rewrite the mission statement to incorporate the input of the divisions or departments.
The second way is to convene the department heads or division heads and write a mission statement and then return to their areas and share the results with subordinates, request feedback, and make suggestions for revision. The managers will then meet together with the CEO and rewrite the statement incorporating the input of the various departments or divisions.
While neither approach is superior, the first is perhaps the most inclusive. When input is solicited from members of the organization from the beginning, the employees have a chance for original input and opposition is negated by that input. In the second approach employees may feel that what they say will matter little and they may feel that they are only being asked to co-sign what the managers and leaders have already determined.
In examining the mission statements of the Georgia Department of Corrections and the Atlanta Police Department we see that both statements identify the public to be served, how the public will be served, they are both broad in focus, avoid jargon. In addition, they are both concise and coherent. Here they part company for awhile, the Atlanta Police Department attempts to impart a vision, the Department of Corrections leaves the vision to another statement entirely. This was found in a number of departments around the nation.
In contacting various corrections and police departments throughout the nation in preparation for this book, we learned that many agencies go to additional lengths to spell out their mission and even articulate certain values that are held most closely. For example the Georgia Department of Corrections publishes a booklet that informs the public that the department has a vision:
The Georgia Department of Corrections will become a primary partner in a collaborative effort among all criminal justice entities, human service providers, educators, and the community in effectively and efficiently preventing and reducing crime in the State of Georgia.
Further, the booklet articulates ten "Beliefs" that revolve around the themes of leadership, responsibility, and duty. The Indianapolis Police Department has both a mission statement and Values on the same page, the Greensboro Police Department (North Carolina) has "Guiding Principles" that define the departments purpose, values, and "Our Way". The New York department of Corrections has a rather lengthy statement that violates the premise of being concise and is somewhat too narrow in the view of the authors. However, it serves a purpose and the public cannot help to understand what the mission of the department is, who is served and how it will be served. Clearly, an effective mission statement should generate positive feelings and emotions toward an organization. A good mission statement creates the impression that the organization is successful, knows were it is going, is worthy of one's time, support, and is a worthwhile investment.
The Policies and Procedures manual is perhaps the most important document in the organization. The Manual serves a number of purposes:
In reference to what we learned in chapter three, generally speaking, a policy is a standing plan that furnishes broad, general guidelines for channeling management thinking toward taking action consistent with reaching organizational objectives (Certo, 1985). certo focuses on the attainment of organizational objectives. Pressman and Wildavsky assert (1973) that policies contain both the goal and the means for attainment. Policies also imply theory, "Policies point to a chain of causation between initial conditions and future consequences" (Pressman and Wildavsky, 1973). They point out that policies become programs when we attempt to do something about a particular problem.
Problems are the focus of standards articulated by such organizations as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the American Correctional Association (ACA). There have been a number of lawsuits filed against agencies that questioned policy and procedure. For example, in perhaps the best known case, the Texas Department of Corrections was the defendant in a class action suit challenging a number of policies and procedures (Crouch and Marquart, (1989). After a prolonged legal battle that lasted nearly one year, the Department agreed to changes such as elimination of the building tender system, but continued the fight through the appeal process and informal resistance to mandated change.
As a result of many such battles, most of which were not as spectacular or expensive, both the IACP and the ACA have implemented programs that attempt to upgrade the performance of police and correctional organizations through the promotion of guidelines for the development of polices and procedures.
Organizational policies and procedures are based upon values. Values are qualities that are prized or believed to be good or of benefit to the individual or group (Houston, 1995). In criminal justice, values reflect a system of beliefs and goals shared by fellow workers and the community. For example, solidarity is a value of police officers. Clearly, the value of solidarity is based upon the notion that one needs to trust, and have the trust, of fellow officers because of the potential for danger and the need to have capable and trusted colleagues who can be counted upon in the heat of conflict.
The policy of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department reflect a value of order. The issue of patrol operations are taken as a given and who works where, who assigns them, and exceptions are articulated. The Skokie, Illinois Police Department policy on patrol shares the vision, who is served, and services to be rendered to the citizens of Skokie, Illinois. Neither policy is wrong, each one reflects the orientation of the department and presumably, community values. Each, in it's own way is a broad outline and a general guide to action.
Cultural values also play a role in the articulation of policies and procedures. Our society holds certain values relative to safety, punishment of wrongdoers, and rehabilitation. Those values have undergone a change in recent years, although not as radical a change as some would have us believe. Nevertheless, a policies and procedures manual that does not reflect the values of the dominant society will be ineffective.
Clearly, in the above examples, the officer reading the procedure would have no doubt about what to do if he or she heard a media report of a sudden disaster to which he or she would be obligated to respond. This points to the necessity for clearly written procedures that are unambiguous and succinct. When procedures are clear, everyone wins; the employee, the public, and the inmate or the subject of arrest or questioning.
Looking again at Figures 5.3 and 5.4 [ommitted], we see how the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department and the Skokie Police Department aim to achieve stated policy. In comparing the policy and procedure between the two organizations we recognize a difference; the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department leaves the conduct of the job up to the individual officer. The Sheriff depends upon the professionalism and knowledge of the craft by the individual to carry him or her through the shift. The Skokie Police Department, on the other hand leaves less to individual discretion. The officer is informed of the objectives, functions, specific duties, and even the equipment necessary for proper conduct of his job. Again, neither is more correct than the other. Each simply reflect the values and orientation of the department and the community.
When writing polices and procedures, it is important to know the difference between policies, procedures, and rules. Policies and procedures are defined above. A rule is defined as "a standing plan that designates specific required action" (Certo, 1986). There is no employee should do or not do. A rule, for example, might specify that all employees must all his or her supervisor at least 60 minutes prior to the beginning of each shift if they are unable to report for work because of illness.
Writing Policies and Procedures:
Involving all staff in the writing of policies and procedures is of the utmost importance. If staff so not have the opportunity to do so, they may feel that the policy and procedures have been imposed from above and passively resist implementation. As a consequence, the time involved in staff involvement is well worth while.
Dupree and Milosovich (1980) offer guidance for the criminal justice practitioner and the consultant planning to develop policies and procedures. They point out that staff members involved in the process not only understand them, but are also aware of alternatives that were considered and rejected, as well as the reasons for rejection. In addition, they have a sense of responsibility for making the policies and procedures work.
Many criminal justice executives overlook the fact that there is tremendous potential just waiting to be tapped. The effective manager understands that entrepreneurial spirit and puts it to work for the agency. Dupree and Milosovich assert that task forces serve as the best method of writing policies and procedures as well as the best method of involving the largest number of people in the process. Using task forces as the primary unit, the following activities can be most assuredly covered:
For all criminal justice agencies:In an endeavor as important as the development and writing of policies and procedures, a person must be appointed as the coordinator for the process. This is important for at least two reasons: it establishes accountability and there is someone who can assure the timely completion of tasks and select personnel to work on the serious task forces.
The above for corrections agencies and:
- Identification of policy and procedure topic items,
- Collecting and analyzing available resource documents related to specific policy issues,
- Developing initial and, if necessary, subsequent drafts of policies and procedures,
- Validating the accuracy and sequencing of procedural steps,
- Support services
For law enforcement, the above and:
- Dealing with juveniles
- Special units
The size of each task force should be limited to a number that maximizes cooperation and communicating and Dupree and Milosovich (1980) recommend not less than three persons and not more than seven. Members of each task force rather than their position in the organization. It is also helpful to have individuals from outside the organization serve on the task force if appropriate. For example, in writing policies and procedures for a police department, it may be helpful, especially with a small department, to have a member of the juvenile court participate in order to streamline the procedures for handling police reports and petitions for juveniles.
Task forces can be made up of employees who are detailed to the task force full time, employees who are detailed to the task force part time, and full time employees who are asked to serve for a short period of time (either full-time or part-time) in order to take advantage of their specific expertise. The important thing to remember is that once the policies and procedures are completed, it is necessary to disband the task force and return the members to their regular duties.
THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:
The Chief Executive Officer of the organization or agency should rarely be directly involved in the writing of the policies and procedures if he or she wants them to reflect accuracy and to be unbiased in favor of excellence. This is difficult for some CEO's because there are certain ways they want the organization to operate. But, who else has the expertise, the day to day knowledge of how the organization should be managed, and is able to recognize changes to be made that will increase efficiency than the employees who actually run the organization?
What is important for the CEO to know is that without her or his support and daily input, the polices and procedures cannot be formulated and articulated. After the manual, or portions of it, has been completed in the first rough draft, the CEO can review the product and suggest changes. Caution should be exercised in how some suggested changes should be approached. Naturally some changes will reflect the bias and preference of the CEO, but most should not be forced upon the members of the task force. Rather, if the CEO has a question about a certain policy or procedure, he or she should ask why it was drawn up that way if it differs from established procedure. Input should be solicited from the members and if there is no logical reason to argue the point, the CEO should acquiesce to the task force. No procedure, and perhaps some policies, are set in granite. If after a six month trial period it is found to be unworkable, it can be re-written.
The mission statement and the policies and procedures are perhaps the most important documents in an organization. Without them, the members of the organization and the public may have no clear idea what the organization is attempting to do, who it feels it may serve, and where the organization is going. The mission statement should be written clearly and concisely and impart a vision. It should be broad in scope and the philosophy and goals that are articulated should be realistic and attainable.
Policies and procedures are driven by a mission statement. A policy is a general guide to action. It should provide a road map to the future by providing a general outline for action and making decisions consistent with reaching the objectives of the organization. Procedures, on the other hand, are the repetitive steps necessary for achieving specific objectives. Criminal Justice practitioners face difficulty, however if the general policies they are asked to implement are too vague, contain conflicting goals, and are too heavily politically motivated. Yet the practitioner must proceed to the best of his or her ability.
In writing the mission statement and the policies and procedures it is necessary for the Chief Executive Officer of the organization to support the task and to take an active hand in the process without dominating the process. Therefore, it is important for the CEO to appoint a person to oversee the process and to guide the implementation of the policies and procedures, if they are new to the organization. A task force or task forces should be appointed to formulate and write the policies and procedures. Members can be full-time, temporary full-time, or part-time. It is important that all members of the organization have input to the process.
REVIEWING THE CASE:
Clearly there was a problem at the Southport Correctional Facility. What is perhaps not so clear to the officers involved is the behavior expected of them while on post. Since the institution was converted from a regular maximum security institution to an institution for the more dangerous and intractable offenders, it may be that the mission statement and the policies and procedures for handling inmates were never reviewed in light of new expectations from the central office.
The Warden should immediately convene a task force to review the mission statement and polices and procedures to assure that what exists conforms to reality. Once that has been done and input from officers and staff has been solicited, the new policies and procedures should be implemented for six months to determine which ones should be again re-written. Members of the task force should include: one member of the executive staff, line officers, counselors, a representative of the union, and a representative of the central office. In addition, special staff assignments for representatives of the various maintenance details for short periods when areas concerning them are being considered.
Once the policies and procedures are re-examined, post orders are re-written, if necessary, then there will probably be fewer incidents such as disrupted the Southport Correctional Facility in May, 1991.["Review Questions" and "Suggested Readings" have been ommitted. Should you require them, please contact the author.]
Dr. James Houston has 20 years field experience in prisons, jails, and community corrections, and 13 years experience in academia. He is the author of three books and numerous articles on gangs, policy, and CJ management.
See his Listing on Experts.com.
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