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Off the Clock: What practitioners do in their leisure time
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global
Published: 05/03/2021

Relaxationscaled We have seen this topic before and I would like for you to do a self-evaluation and see if you are satisfied with your leisure time results. Corrections staff (uniform and non-uniform) have faced year 2020 with many challenges and these have carried over to present. Even with these uncontrolled events, for the most part, corrections has attempted to help control for these areas: COVID (Staff and Offender challenges); lack of staff for a variety of reasons; lack of resources; additional job and family stress; lack of our own health needs; lack of incentive; increase in offender violence in our facilities and in the community; safety and security concerns; and the list goes on and own. Yet, you and I are expected to still perform our jobs and, sometimes more than one job, and remain professional. Then we wonder why we have so many challenges and remain in a downward spiral. Each of the previous areas I identified has same and/or similar challenges. At the end of the work day, you want to go home and unwind. This can be tricky since we must identify with what ‘unwind’ represents. Different meanings, yet some will be good while others can lead to other issues and concerns.

I ask you to think about the areas I identified and see how you are handling each of these areas. We want to leave the job behind when we go home, yet this is all too often easier said than done. Besides the problems and challenges we face with our job, many of you are dealing with family issues. This can be trying to get your COVID vaccines; some of our children are back at school while some are still at home learning via distance education; some loved ones lost their lives due to COVID; trying to maintain our employment with many staff having to stay at the facilities due to COVID (This occurred earlier); and we can continue to add to the list. Unfortunately, we are experiencing increases in family violence and increase in crime throughout our country.

Are there any quick remedies? No, and there should not be. COVID has changed the global perspective and caused economic concerns. Many businesses have closed and are not likely to reopen. We can argue all day if our officials made the correct decisions, we cannot undo the past. We can learn from this, adjust, and move on with a determination to not repeat mistakes. I finally received my vaccines and am waiting to see what is next. Many people have opted not to participate in the vaccines, and this is their individual choice. I am not here to question their decisions, and expect the same in return. I have made it a daily practice to continue my daily exercise and have been doing this since employed in corrections and after my retirement. We know from research and our own bodies, the benefits of exercise. Let’s face it, we live in unstable times and have enough on our minds without being over stressed. Stress alone adds to many additional challenges.

Due to recent violence we are seeing in our facilities, we must work toward improving our health. We cannot do a 180 degree turn without being aware of our medical conditions and limitations. Let’s face it, we do not have the body we did when we entered the corrections field. Drugs and alcohol abuse is not the answer. I want you to consider the following; do you know someone who has a drug and/or related problem? If so, how are they dealing with this? Are they in denial, become hostile when you ask, are any of these individuals our co-workers? We know change is difficult and to begin we need to recognize there is a problem and be willing to accept the responsibilities and consequences for our own actions. This parallels with the COVID family violence issues being faced by many. Are we willing to ask for help? Are we willing to recognize and discuss with corrections staff who we know are dealing with these problems? To let them know we are here and available to talk and lend support? Yes, not all are going to be receptive, yet some will. Do not let it come as a surprise that some staff will be receptive. I find it interesting that we are willing to perform a variety of services in our work place and assist offenders. Yet, when we look at our families and friends, some staff are reluctant to address this and there are a variety of reasons for this. Sometimes we need to be reminded of just how dangerous our jobs can be. We are aware of the safety and security issues faced daily in corrections. Now we need to recognize we need to come together and assist each other as we deal with these challenges. We are a family and a team. Sometimes we need to recognize we do not have all the answers and perhaps we cannot do this alone. Take proactive measures to improve your health, lifestyles, and look forward to retirement.

Stay safe out there,

Terry Campbell is a criminal justice professor at Purdue University Global and has more than 20 years of experience in corrections and policing. He has served in various roles, including prison warden and parole administrator, for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Terry may be reached at tcampbell@purdueglobal.edu.

Other articles by Campbell


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