Incredible. Outstanding. Changed my paradigm and my outlook. Extremely impressed. What could these comments be about?
A group of 41 current and former prison and corrections officials, policy experts, and Prison Fellowship staff gathered in Boston for the Warden Exchange’s second residency. Representatives from prison facilities in Nebraska, Massachusetts, Indiana, Illinois, and California were in attendance.
Pedro Moreno, director of the Warden Exchange, opened the meeting, introducing the communications director of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, who offered some welcoming remarks. That was followed by a powerful discussion with former New York City police commissioner, Bernie Kerik. Kerik, who served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections in the 1990s, was nominated to be Secretary of Homeland Security by President George W. Bush—an appointment he was forced to decline because he had hired an undocumented worker. He was later convicted of fraud and lying under oath, serving four years behind bars. Kerik shared his unique perspective as someone who knows corrections both as an officer and as a prisoner, and how his views had evolved as a result.
Baz Dreisinger, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World, discussed the pros and cons of solitary confinement.
Inmate abuse in both domestic and foreign correctional facilities was examined as Dave Eshleman shared his experience as a student participant in the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. Greg Stroebel, Director of Army Corrections Command, followed with a review of the inhumane treatment of detainees at the Abu Ghraib military prison in Iraq.
On the second day of the residency, participants visited Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Norfolk, before gathering at a Boston Harbor conference center. Mark Divine, a former Navy SEAL Commander who now trains Olympic athletes and business CEOs, conducted a hands-on training on three principles from his book The Way of the SEAL: visualization, intuition, and emotional resilience. Using a simulation of the 1993 Lucasville prison riot in Ohio as the foundation for the training, participants were divided into teams and spent the rest of the exercise applying SEAL principles to situations presented. Reggie Wilkinson, the director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s at the time of the Lucasville riot, assisted Divine in the training.
As the residency concluded, participants were excited to share what they had learned over the two days, and expressed how they were planning to implement these lessons in their work with staff, prisoners and others under their care.
To learn more about Prison Fellowship’s Warden Exchange program, click here.