Amazing! Outstanding experience. The most impacting, rewarding development of my leadership skills and relationships. These are the words of wardens, deputy wardens, and assistant wardens after participating in Prison Fellowship’s recent Warden Exchange program residency in Minneapolis.
The two-day residency began with a comparison between European and American prisons, led by Association for State Correctional Administrators president Leann Bertsch and Colette Mazzucelli, a New York University international relations professor.
Class members next participated in a Shark Tank-style action plan presentation before a panel of six of the residency’s facilitators and advisory panel members. Each team of wardens presented an action plan that examined three challenges in their facilities and created plans designed to resolve them. The panel asked probing questions and suggestions, which the participants answered astutely.
The group also discussed two case studies featuring the corrections experience of Burl Cain, former warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, and Doug Dretke, executive director of the Criminal Justice Center’s Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT), both members of the Warden Exchange advisory panel.
The first day of the Warden Exchange residency concluded as the group “toured” San Quentin State Prison with the help of virtual reality goggles. The participants loved the experience, which was an initial exposure to virtual reality for most, and gave insightful feedback on how virtual reality might be used in correctional facilities.
Day two began with a visit to the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Lino Lakes, followed by a role play simulation where the participants were presented a hypothetical situation designed to encourage dispute resolution. The event ended with the graduation of 15 wardens, deputy wardens, and assistant wardens from the program.
Each program participant expressed their gratitude to the Warden Exchange, remarking that it had been a truly transformational experience. Many said that they were returning to their facilities with a fresh perspective of their staff and residents as well as enthusiasm for their work, with plans to implement the lessons learned.
Prison Fellowship’s Warden Exchange program brings corrections professionals together to share ideas and best practices on how to make correctional facilities safer, more efficient, and more effective. To learn more about the program, as well as how you can be a part of its transformative mission, visit https://www.prisonfellowship.org/warden-exchange.