Compromising the integrity of staff in prison, Part 1 — Are you at risk?

By Sgt. Daryll Slimmer
Intelligence Officer
C1 Forums: In-custody gang unit contacts sought

Part 1 of 2: Read Part 2

The following information on compromising the integrity of staff was given to me by a former Former Ranking Member of the Aryan Brotherhood. While the information contains situations that occur in both state and federal facilities, they can be applied to the positions that we are in every day. It should be read by all staff, even those who are not in contact with inmates on a daily basis. Pay particular attention to the situations in which you might have already found yourself. As a reminder, report all suspicious behavior and activities to the SIS Shop immediately.

Part I

Gang leaders have developed an array of methods to manipulate and compromise staff members. The ultimate goal is to exert enough influence over an officer to make him identify, at some level, with a particular gang and adopt at least part of its culture and ideology.

The single most important factor in successfully profiling a staff member is that he/she remains unaware that the profiling is taking place.

Without proper training, staff members will remain unaware that they are being profiled and will continue to be compromised.

Once a staff member has been properly profiled and has come to identify with a particular gang, especially a racially oriented gang, and its culture and ideology, he will not be faced with a moral dilemma when he assists a gang within an institution or on the street. In viewing the gang’s ideals as valid, the officer will feel justified in whatever actions he takes on their behalf.

As gangs throughout the nation’s prison systems become more sophisticated, so too does the methodology with which they profile staff members. Gang leaders have learned that it is much more effective to profile large numbers of staff within a correctional institution, and to use each one of them to assist in seemingly small ways which will not make them too uncomfortable, than to focus all of their attention on corrupting one or two officers completely.

The current mode of profiling and compromising staff presents a far more significant threat to the Bureau of Prisons simple corruption, which has by no means disappeared, ever has. Instead of corrupting a single staff member, gang leaders aim to compromise the integrity of a significant portion of the line staff in any institution in which they maintain a physical presence.

Some staff member are used to committing seemingly innocuous rule violations to assist gang members and inmates whom they have come to view as “friends” or “protectors;” their behavior is not viewed as being corrupt — even by their peers.

Without significant peer pressure to regulate such behavior, these rule infractions become ingrained into the daily routine of the staff. They are no longer viewed as rule infractions, in fact, officers come to think of them as “inmate management” tools.

It is then a simple matter for gang leaders and gang members to push the envelope in small increments until they have assumed a subtle control over all aspects of an institution.

One piece at a time

Gang leaders view staff members as pieces of a puzzle: It isn’t until all of the pieces are connected that a picture emerges.

A staff member will not feel particularly compromised when asked to deliver a bag of commissary items to an inmate on another range, especially when he identifies with the inmates involved, and convinces himself that doing that “favor” is consistent with good inmate management. In other words, he knows that the inmates involved will ensure that there will be no problems in that housing unit.

The same is true when staff members pass a message from one inmate to another, deliver books and magazines without shaking them down and divulge the whereabouts of other inmates and the assignments of other staff members.

Each one of these activities appears to be relatively harmless when viewed in isolation, but when the activities are put in proper context, an officer can see just how far his integrity has been compromised and to what extent he has been manipulated. The bag of commissary may contain bullets, knives, hacksaw blades, or other contraband used to fashion weapons. The message he delivers may be in code, and could even contain an order for a murder. The books and magazines may contain coded instructions to gang members, etc.

Thus, the same staff member of members whom would truly believe that their integrity had never been compromised would find that they had been deeply involved and had helped to facilitate crimes such as murder, drug trafficking and other gang related activities.

Counteracting gangs

Without proper training, staff members will continue to be compromised and manipulated by gang leaders and members throughout the country. Staff, for the most part, remains unaware that they are being profiled. As they become further and further enmeshed in gang culture and ideology, they begin to view the prison administrators as the enemy and the gang members as their allies.

Gang leaders and other inmates alike rely on the seeming inability of the Bureau of Prisons to mount a defense against the methods being used to compromise staff. The widespread manipulation of staff can only occur as long as line staff and administrative staff remain divided, and refuse to address the problem jointly and implement the training programs necessary to eliminate the effectiveness of staff profiling.

In order to create successful training programs, it’s necessary to gain an understanding of the conditions that allow for staff profiling to take place, as well as the methods being used to compromise the integrity of staff members.

Conditions necessary for gangs to exist

The basic conditions which exist in nearly all correctional facilities (and which make these activities possible) are:

  • Direct daily contact between staff members and inmates, unstructured dialog between staff members and inmate, and the gulf which exists between the line staff and the administrative staff.
  • Daily contact between staff members and inmates is unavoidable. But when staff members are properly trained, this contact does not have to yield consistent disadvantage to individual staff members or the Bureau of Prisons as a whole.
  • Similarly, unstructured dialog between staff members and inmates is unavoidable. It is through apparently ordinary conversation that gang members and other inmates gather the. These conversations are almost never ordinary, and are most often led in the direction that the inmates feel will reveal the greatest amount of personal information about the staff member he is conversing with.

    Any training programs, which may be developed, would have to address the dangers inherent in all unstructured dialog and show staff members how it inevitably leads to manipulation and compromising in integrity if unrecognized, in order for that program to be successful.
  • The division that exists between line staff and administrative staff is equally dangerous as unstructured dialog. Inmates instinctively develop a divide and conquer mentality in regard to correctional staff, and any sign of division or dissent is immediately capitalized on.

Gang leaders and members have made their greatest strides in dominating and controlling the nation’s prison systems by exploiting the dissension and division that exists between line staff and administrative staff.

In Part 2, I’ll provide in-depth examples of how staff profiling and manipulation occurs, and talk about the best training necessary to counteract it.

Read Part 2 

About the author
Daryll Slimmer began his career in corrections as a Juvenile Detention Officer at the Salem County Correctional Facility. After a little over a year with the SCCF, he joined the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a Correctional Officer at FCI Fairton, N.J. He later assumed the position of Intelligence Officer with the Special Investigative Services (SIS) at FCI Fairton. He recently returned from a 15 month tour in Iraq and is currently serving as a Training Assistant with the NJ-PTAE (Pre-mobilazition Training Assistance Element) with-in the New Jersey National Guard. After the deployment of the 50th IBCT in June, he will be returning to FCI Fairton as a Senior Officer Specialist."

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