Clem Information Strategies works where public policy, communications, and outreach intersect.

Connie Clem, Principal, connie at
@ConnieInfo | | 303.242.6278
Niwot, Colorado, USA

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Ever wonder what issues jail leaders have to deal with? At recent meeting, jail directors tossed out one or two of their top challenges. I tallied up my notes on what they mentioned.

The themes –

#1 = STAFF ISSUES. As in: facility staffing levels, overtime reduction, recruitment, retention, reliability of staff to do the job as assigned/trained, staff wellness (so they can show up to work), training and development, supervisor development, internal affairs (investigations), an aging workforce, background checks, succession planning, civilian posts in jail, and parity of custody jobs with law enforcement.

#2 = INMATE ISSUES. As in: mental health needs and diversion, crowding/capacity, opioids, co-occurring disorders (mental health and substance abuse together), restricted housing, health care, reentry, workforce education, and special needs: juveniles, detox, homelessness, veterans, pregnancy, hearing impairments.

#3 = EXTERNAL ISSUES. As in: jail funding, community and justice system collaborations, legislation, litigation, consent decrees, ICE, reform, and public records/FOIA.

#4 = SECURITY. As in: contraband, natural disaster and civil disturbance preparedness, use of force, construction, and equipment/technology.

But the best answer may have been from the person who said, “All of it.”

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A word about #MeToo

November 6, 2017

Now that the #MeToo meme is getting around, sexual misconduct and abuse of power are open topics of discussion toward long-needed social change. The surprise to many is that the corrections field is so far ahead on confronting a culture of abuse and establishing a comprehensive methodology for reducing it. The Prison Rape Elimination Act […]

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It’s a people business

June 14, 2017

When it comes to jail and correctional work, the demands made of people could hardly be more intense. Correctional officers (they are not “guards,” by the way) have to be 100% safety-aware and 100% open to the idea that the person they’re interacting with is a human being, too. They operate within these two very […]

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Don’t take my word for it

March 28, 2017

Jails matter! But don’t take my word for it. Talk with your local public safety leaders. Check out agency websites. If you know someone who works in a jail or has spent time in one as a volunteer or a detainee, see what they can tell you. Find out who is in your city or […]

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Industries examined?

October 7, 2016

Recently inmate industries made the news on a public radio talk program:  “The National Prison Strike (According To Prisoners),” September 28, 2016, On Point, WBUR, Boston, Massachusetts. I applaud fresh attention given to jails and prisons, so this was good to hear. However, the program seemed to accept at face value the comments of the […]

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Who’s Responsible?

September 29, 2015

Lately we’re seeing more attention to interactions between corrections/law enforcement personnel and community members, possible suspects, detainees, and inmates. This is a good thing—because accountability is important, and also because the scrutiny is helping the public to learn more about patrol work and jails. A big question is, how responsible is an agency leader for […]

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Jail Standards, Classification, and Safety

September 17, 2015

Last week I sat in on a meeting of jail inspection agency leaders from around the United States. These people work in state government, and their mission is to ensure safety and security in the jails they work with. They or their staff members visit each local facility statewide to check whether these jails meet […]

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What’s the difference between prison and jail?

November 3, 2013

You know how you’re watching the news, and the reporter solemnly says a criminal will be spending his or her life in jail, or will serve a 20-year jail sentence, or is languishing in prison waiting for trial? It’s not going to happen. Let me clear this up. In the United States, we often encounter […]

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Infographic – social media + emergency response

June 10, 2013

Must share this. From USF Master of Public Admin program. University of San Francisco Online Master of Public Administration

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