Principles of Direct Supervision
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department’s recruitment procedures encourage qualified staff. Sheriff Michael J. Ashe, Jr., prides himself with personally meeting with each potential employee after a rigorous application, testing (written and physical), and intense interview process. Applicants are carefully screened because the correctional officer who shares the day room with the offender must be a positive role model, provide leadership, enforce rules, control privileges, and monitor behavior. Direct Supervision facilities cannot succeed unless housing unit officers are well trained in special interpersonal and managerial skills.
Classification & Orientation
Proper classification and screening processes enables our department to carefully gauge the proper level of custody assuring order and safety for staff and inmates. Offenders are oriented upon admission and educated in the rules for behavior, through personal orientation, written inmate handbooks, and by correctional staff who effectively communicate expectations every day.
In Direct Supervision facilities such as the Ludlow Jail and House of Correction, and the Western MA Regional Women’s Correctional Facility, the layout of the housing unit is that of an open space referred to as a Podular design. Housing unit (Pod) officers walk among and work along side the inmate population. We at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department believe that our line officers are the backbone to the success of our operation. The Pod officer is the leader and in control of the housing units. They receive frequent feedback from supervisors and are continually receiving training in skills of supervision as managers.
Safety of Staff and Inmates
Proactive adherence to rigorous environmental and workplace rules promotes safety for both staff and the inmate. Our officers are the undisputed leaders of the community of inmates and continually reinforce this through constant communication with the inmate population. Not only are the number of inmate-on-inmate attacks greatly reduced, but by employing the Direct Supervision paradigm, our officers find that this philosophy has dissolved the traditional fear/hate relationships between correctional officers and inmates.
Manageable and Cost Effective Operation
Our Direct Supervision facilities look very little like your customary or traditional jails. Walking into a open-layout day room of a Podular-designed housing unit you will see telephones, which give the inmates easy access to families, attorneys and others. Televisions, where the offender watches carefully-monitored broadcasts and educational programs on topics such as chemical dependency, literacy skills, and other self help learning. The inmates have direct access to exercise equipment and outdoor recreation. The Direct Supervision design promotes flexibility in operations, reduced construction costs, and reduced vandalism. Weekly command inspections are conducted at all of our facilities where supervisory staff judiciously inspect all areas which helps assure sanitation and orderliness.
Communication is two-way street. Frequent staff and inmate communication is essential in the correctional setting. Just as important, correctional staff must feel that there is open communication between themselves and management as well. Sheriff Ashe involves correctional staff in correctional related decision-making. After all, correctional officers and supervisors know best about the actual happenings within the correctional environment.
Our officers never relinquish or share control with the inmates. He or she is in total control. We pride ourselves in sound perimeter security. Pods are divided into controllable groups and all areas of our facilities are under constant state-of-the-art surveillance. Through a combination of architectural design, classification philosophy, inmate ground rules, and officer deployment, we can effectively and successfully control inmate behavior.
Justice & Fairness
Inmates must be treated fairly by Professional correctional officers. Direct supervision facilities such as ours cannot function unless our officers professionally treat the offender population with justice and fairness. Inmates must feel that if they go to an officer or staff member with a problem, they will be treated respectfully and fairly.
Ownership of Operations
In order for Direct Supervision facilities to function best, the staff must take ownership. Ownership of operations is a belief that everyone who works in the jail – from our Sheriff to the line officers – must develop a possessiveness about his/her job and its associated tasks. Officers in our organization feel like their surroundings were built for them to do their job safely and effectively. This empowers the officers, which leads to increased job satisfaction and improved jail operations.