Correctional Administrators' Attitudes: Making a Difference in Correctional Intelligence Gathering and Sharing

By Garzarelli, Louis F. | Corrections Today, December 2004 | Go to article overview

Correctional Administrators' Attitudes: Making a Difference in Correctional Intelligence Gathering and Sharing


Garzarelli, Louis F., Corrections Today


In a post-9/11 world, domestic and international intelligence have become the cornerstone of U.S.homeland security. America's law enforcement community and the correctional community have been faced with the challenge of working together and sharing intelligence. The correctional community has always had a significant amount of intelligence at federal, state and county levels. Traditionally, correctional administrators, outside law enforcement officials and prosecutors viewed intelligence gathering in corrections as information that only pertained to respective correctional institutions.

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The main reason for this attitude is that most administrators and prosecutors are not aware that intelligence gathered within the correctional community has the potential to enhance prosecution of criminal cases. Most administrators and officials never had opportunities to be involved in cases where intelligence developed from the correctional community. In addition, there is a lack of resources to train and assign staff whose positions are dedicated to performing investigative and intelligence gathering on a full-time basis. This negative attitude also derived from the traditional task of correctional intelligence pertaining only to the respective correctional facility. Traditionally, the only need for investigation or intelligence gathering within a correctional facility was based on incidents that occurred within that facility.

The History of Security Intelligence

The 1950s and 1960s brought the growth of traditional prison gangs. To maintain order and security within institutions, it became necessary to monitor the movement of these groups, which subsequently were known as security threat groups (STGs). Larger state prison systems and the Federal Bureau of Prisons established full-time staff positions to perform these tasks. These staff members are referred to as special investigative investigators or SIS lieutenants in the BOP. In some state systems, they are called security captains or security investigators. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, investigative/intelligence staff worked alone. Their responsibilities consisted of monitoring, identifying and documenting known and new gang members, performing investigations concerning internal affair matters and coordinating with outside law enforcement agencies in conducting interviews with inmates and dealing with criminal matters. The increase in the national crime rate and the "get tough on crime" attitude of the 1980s and 1990s, combined with new mandatory sentencing laws on the state and federal level, affected the rapid growth of the U.S. prison system at that time. This increase in the prison population made it necessary for correctional administrators to dedicate additional staff to assist in maintaining efficient investigative and intelligence gathering processes. The nation's prison system also experienced continuous growth that subsequently placed a large demand on the correctional investigative and intelligence communities.

Investigative And Intelligence Staff Today

Today, many correctional administrators, outside law enforcement officials and prosecutors still view correctional investigative and intelligence staff as being responsible only for gathering intelligence for their respective institutions. In some correctional and law enforcement circles, they are restricted from disseminating critical intelligence to outside law enforcement and prosecutors' offices. Correctional investigators and intelligence staff are considered a small component of the daily operations of a correctional institution and are limited in the resources they can offer to police and courts. At times, correctional investigators and intelligence staff also are restricted by state laws and, in some cases, judges' opinions on how information will be disseminated. For example, in states such as Maryland and Pennsylvania, state judges can place restrictions on county and state institutions concerning proactive intelligence-gathering operations. …

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