Importance of Staff Training to Improving Staff Morale
Request submitted by John Shuford (North Carolina)
I am writing a paper, which I hope will be published in ACA’s “Corrections Today” on the importance of staff training and how it is key to improving staff morale and the working cultures in corrections.

Would you please respond to the following items:
1.       How long is your orientation of new staff?
2.       Is working culture and teambuilding covered and if so, how much time is devoted to them?
3.       How are your first-line supervisors prepared?
4.       What are your staff development in-service topics?
5.       Is staff retention and turnover a problem in your agency?
a.       If so, how have you addressed it?
6.       Would you share your new staff orientation syllabus?

To submit responses, click HERE.

Response from Anonymous
1.       How long is your orientation of new staff?
60 days
2.       Is working culture and team-building covered and if so, how much time is devoted to them?
Yes, 30% of the time.
3.       How are your first-line supervisors prepared?
n/a
4.       What are your staff development in-service topics?
no response
Direct Supervision of Inmates
5.       Is staff retention and turnover a problem in your agency? no response
a.       If so, how have you addressed it?
no response
6.       Would you share your new staff orientation syllabus?
no response

Response from Anonymous
1.       How long is your orientation of new staff?
One week in length, given very irregularly.
2.       Is working culture and team-building covered and if so, how much time is devoted to them?
Neither are covered.
3.       How are your first-line supervisors prepared?
Our first line supervisors for uniformed ranks hold the rank of captain.
They are given an 8-week course.
4.       What are your staff development in-service topics?
Suicide Prevention
Use of Force Refresher
CCR/First Aid
Defensive Tactics Refresher
Advanced Correctional Techniques
Conflict of Interest
Sexual Harassment Prevention
Cultural Diversity
Infectious Disease Refresher
Chemical Agents Refresher
Safe Crisis Management
Crisis Intervention Team
Hand-held Camera
Body Cam
Direct Supervision of Inmates
5.       Is staff retention and turnover a problem in your agency? YES
a.       If so, how have you addressed it?
Conservatively speaking, 30% of each graduating class will quit within one year.
Many officers are also retiring due to the addition of cameras in the jails and increase in disciplinary charges.
6.       Would you share your new staff orientation syllabus?
There is no syllabus.

Response from Anonymous (ME)
1.       How long is your orientation of new staff?
My training was six weeks at the Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro, Maine. I am a secretary and it was invaluable to have the same training as a CO when working in this environment.
2.       Is working culture and team-building covered and if so, how much time is devoted to them?
Working culture is not covered and team building is only minimally discussed, from my recollection.
3.       How are your first-line supervisors prepared?
I think they are very well prepared for incidents within the facility. I don't think they are very well prepared for handling every-day personnel issues. I think there is a fear there that they may say or do something wrong.
4.       What are your staff development in-service topics?
There are many, but include PREA, Security in a Non-Secure setting, CR/2, Suicide Prevention, etc.
5.       Is staff retention and turnover a problem in your agency? YES
a.       If so, how have you addressed it?
I am not in a position to address this issue. I just try to be as supportive as possible. I listen to staff and help guide them in a direction that would enable them to be heard by the appropriate people. Oftentimes, they are unwilling to have a constructive conversation with Administration on issues.
6.       Would you share your new staff orientation syllabus?
I don't have the ability to do this.

 Response from Dorinda Carter & Darryl Smith (TN)
1.       How long is your orientation of new staff?
Orientation for new staff is 40 hrs with HR before tackling the more job specific training.
2.       Is working culture and team-building covered and if so, how much time is devoted to them?
Team building is covered with Interpersonal Communication and Work Ethics. These three total 3.5 hrs during week 3 training.
3.       How are your first-line supervisors prepared?
Our first line supervisors are required to attend a 40 hr New supervisor training during their first 60 days of promotion.
4.       What are your staff development in-service topics?
Staff development in-service is a multitude of options. There are many programs offered.
5.       Is staff retention and turnover a problem in your agency? YES
a.       If so, how have you addressed it?  Staff development is not an issue, but turnover is extremely high. In 2017 for correction officers the turnover rate was 101%
a. Addressed? I do know that they trying many things to correct it, so far it has not worked. The new governor Bill Lee has just identified 15.6 million to increase the pay for correctional officers.
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2019/03/05/tennessee-state-of-the-
-state-bill-lee-budget-rainy-day-fund-correction-officers/3028285002/
6.       Would you share your new staff orientation syllabus?
YES, contact Darryl.k.smith@tn.gov

Response from Scott Patterson (WV)
1.       How long is your orientation of new staff?
At present, it is 40 hours. In July 2019, we will be instituting a pre-service Basic Training, so the "orientation" model will change somewhat.
2.       Is working culture and team-building covered and if so, how much time is devoted to them?
Team building is covered in Basic Training, typically 6-10 hours over a 6-week period. Working culture is not covered currently, but will be covered when we begin pre-service Basic Training.
3.       How are your first-line supervisors prepared?
At present, they are not. We are in the process of developing a Supervisory Training curriculum, with a projected start date of late-summer or early fall 2019. The initial (Basic) Supervisory Training will be around 40 hours, offered at least quarterly, and will be mandatory in the first year after an employee promotes to a supervisory position. There will also be mandated on-going/annual refresher Supervisory Training.
4.       What are your staff development in-service topics?
The following are mandatory for all employees:
Defensive Tactics
CPR/First Aid
PREA Refresher
Emergency Procedures Refresher
EEO/Sexual Harassment Refresher
Staff/Inmate Interaction Refresher
The remainder of the topics are facility-specific, as determined by the facilities' Superintendents in conjunction with Training Staff.
5.       Is staff retention and turnover a problem in your agency? YES
a.       If so, how have you addressed it?  Yes. In addition to increasing entry-level and ongoing salaries, we have recognized that quality training and supervision have as much, if not more, impact on retention than money. As a result, we are working to make our training - both at the entry level and the supervisory level, more efficient, effective, and professional.
6.       Would you share your new staff orientation syllabus?
YES, contact scott.w.patterson@wv.gov

Response from Elizabeth Kreger (OH)
1.       How long is your orientation of new staff?
Ohio conducts the following orientation schedule:
40 hours orientation (prior to academy)
120 hours at academy (non custody staff)
160 hours at academy (custody staff)
80-120 hours of OJT post academy for custody staff
40 hours of OJT for non custody staff
2.       Is working culture and team-building covered and if so, how much time is devoted to them?
No - not during orientation training
3.       How are your first-line supervisors prepared?
All new exempt employees are required to attend 40 hours of new supervisors training within 1 year of being promoted.
4.       What are your staff development in-service topics?
Vary by year, based on needs assessments.
We cover all required ACA standards annually and fill in gaps with needs based training.
5.       Is staff retention and turnover a problem in your agency? 
a.       If so, how have you addressed it?  I am not sure how to answer this as I don't know what you consider a "problem".
6.       Would you share your new staff orientation syllabus?
YES, contact elizabeth.kreger@odrc.state.oh.us

Response from Anonymous
1.       How long is your orientation of new staff?
Two weeks initial orientation followed by on the job training which could last a year depending on what posts the new employee works.
2.       Is working culture and team-building covered and if so, how much time is devoted to them?
This is not covered during orientation. Only basic classes to get them started.
3.       How are your first-line supervisors prepared?
Right now there is no training that supervisors attend before becoming supervisors. Our agency is currently working on implementing trainings that a supervisor would have to attend after being promoted.
4.       What are your staff development in-service topics?
We cover basic classes during orientation and then have yearly in-service classes such as fire safety, CPR, PREA and Workplace Harassment.
5.       Is staff retention and turnover a problem in your agency? 
a.       If so, how have you addressed it?  It used to be in my facility but a change in leadership seemed to help this. We also changed hiring practices so we get new staff in quicker which in turn reduces burn out.
6.       Would you share your new staff orientation syllabus?
No response

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