I like to pitch ideas to people using the phrase hare-brained as in, “I got this hare-brained idea for a blog…” I use the term to lower expectations and excuse my lack of answers to legitimate questions like “How are you supposed to do that?”
It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence but thats not really the point. Most of the time, I just want to gauge people’s reactions and I can tell you, the reactions to Corrections Community weren’t great. But I completely understand; the concept wasn’t well thought out when I first pitched it and I didn’t know the first thing about blogging or podcasts, other than how to find them. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I had to do something with this thing in my head.
So I started googling around to see what else is already out there. Finding a niche is important if you want to produce something interesting and I needed to find mine. Turns out, The Department of Corrections in my home state of Oregon has an official blog! It’s 100 times more professional and does a great job highlighting some of the good work Oregon DOC is doing. Whew! It’s a good thing this blog isn’t official!
That reminds me, I should probably note, any work I do for Corrections Community is done on my own time on my own devices and on my own dime. And while I would love the support and resources that come with being sponsored in an official capacity, I think the freedom to make this what I want is a good thing, so I’ll take it.
But that brings me to the next item in my search results. If I didn’t find official blogs or podcasts released by the organization they represent, I found versions of this site that have…let’s just say a slightly different tone. But I get it. The field of Corrections has been going through the throes of change for many years. To what degree depends on where you work. Change can create conflict and for some, this isn’t just a job. It can become a part of their identity. It’s not what they do, it’s who they are. I actually want to unpack this concept a whole lot more but that’s a post for another day. The point is, anyone who does something like starting a blog on their own is passionate, it’s just that for some, their underlying frustration or anger around change can sometimes come through their work.
This is probably a good time to declare where I stand on a few things. First, Corrections Community is about as grassroots as it gets but the freedom I enjoy won’t be used to complain or to spread negativity. This isn’t a place where movements, organizations or people will be disparaged. Personally, I have a bias toward action and generally see change as a good thing. So while I want to cover a variety of complex topics I think people care about, the point of exploring them is to find what is actionable or what someone can do even when the solution seems unreachable.
When it comes to what we do, I believe my work is about changing people’s behavior for the better. I don’t think that’s too controversial. How we create behavior change in other humans though, that’s a little more complicated. There is a lot of good research which has led to the development of what is commonly referred to as evidence-based practices in Corrections. Unfortunately, the implementation of those practices has not been successful in a lot of places and there are a lot of reasons for that. But before this post turns into an all-nighter, let’s just leave it at this. People can change. The folks who work inside our institutions and in community corrections can help. Now let’s explore how we can be better so we can do better.