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The Square One Project, Harm Reduction at the Center of Incarceration, 2021

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THE
SOUARE ONE

PROJECT
REIMAGINE JUSTICE

EXECUTIVE SESSION
ON THE FUTURE
OF JUSTICE POLICY
APRIL 2021
Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia
Managing Director,
Justice Initiatives
at Chicago Beyond.
Former Warden
of Cook County Jail

HARM
REDUCTION AT
THE CENTER OF
INCARCERATION

The Square One Project aims to incubate
new thinking on our response to crime,
promote more effective strategies, and
contribute to a new narrative of justice
in America.
Learn more about the Square One
Project at squareonejustice.org

The Executive Session was created with support from
the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as
part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, which seeks
to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way
America thinks about and uses jails.

E

SAFETY+JUSTICE

15!. CHALLENGE

Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

2

5

19

INTRODUCTION

REDEFINING THE
SCOPE OF TRAUMA
IN CORRECTIONAL
INSTITUTIONS

CURRENT RESPONSES
TO TRAUMA IN
CORRECTIONAL
INSTITUTIONS

21

24

30

A SHIFT TOWARDS
HARM REDUCTION

A FRAMEWORK
FOR HARM REDUCTION
IN CORRECTIONAL
INSTITUTIONS

CASE EXAMPLE OF HARMREDUCING PRACTICES
IN A CORRECTIONAL
INSTITUTION

36

37

39

CONCLUSION

REFERENCES

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

39
AUTHOR NOTE

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

The American correctional system is not
a system of accountability that rehabilitates
people as it purports to do. Instead, it is
a system of pain and punishment with
reverberating impact on the people confined
there, the people who work there, and the
families and communities of both.

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

The reach of the pain from our current
correctional system extends beyond the
barbed wire fences and into our homes, our
schools, our churches, and our communities.
It’s in the soul of the 8-year-old girl who sits
in the classroom wondering if her father
will make it home safely from prison. It’s
in the touch of the mother pumping breast
milk into the sink of her cell and longing
to hold her newborn son. It’s in the heart
of the correctional officer who coaches
the neighborhood soccer league but can’t
shake feelings of doom and fear. It’s in the
thoughts of the officer’s wife as she kisses
him goodbye and hopes that he returns home
safely. The trauma generated by correctional
institutions is real and felt by tens of millions
of people every day. For this reason, I believe
we must all make transformational changes
in the here and now to reduce the harms
caused by these systems.

For more than ten years, I worked for and
eventually led the Cook County Jail in Chicago,
Illinois—one of the largest single site jails in
the country with a population that ranged
over time from approximately 10,000 people
when I started in 2006 to approximately
6,000 people when I retired in 2018, plus
a staff of approximately 2,300 people. During
that time, I experienced dozens of encounters
that cumulatively form my perspective on
the scope of trauma in correctional facilities
and the opportunities for harm reduction.
I retraced the final moments of numerous
men and women confined in the facility
that died by suicide; I attended the funerals
of staff members who died too soon as
a result of being constantly overtaxed,
both physically and emotionally; I visited the
hospital beds of staff who had been assaulted;
I looked in the eyes of men and women who
were being disciplined, fired, and laid off;

THE REACH OF THE PAIN FROM OUR CURRENT
CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM EXTENDS BEYOND
THE BARBED WIRE FENCES AND INTO OUR
HOMES, OUR SCHOOLS, OUR CHURCHES,
AND OUR COMMUNITIES

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

and I looked in the faces of tens of thousands
of young children with tears in their eyes
as they were leaving their loved ones at
the massive jail complex.
Nothing prepared me for the trauma
that existed within correctional facilities.
There was no playbook on how to defeat
the feelings that kept me awake at night in
anticipation of the next incident—a massive
fight, a fire, a suicide, a hostage situation,
a murder, an escape, a death, a rape—all
things that I encountered several times
during my tenure in corrections. These are
the experiences of every person touched
by correctional facilities. Staff see it;
the people confined in the facilities live
it; and family members hear about it.

The traditional perspective of trauma views
people who are incarcerated, staff, and
communities as distinct entities. With this
framing we cannot fully understand the
mechanisms of trauma at work, nor the
opportunities for harm reduction. This paper
offers my perspective: I am a former jail
warden, a family member of a person who
was incarcerated, and a family member of
a current correctional professional. In this
paper, I redefine the scope of trauma in the
context of incarceration, quantitatively and
qualitatively. I explain where policy currently
misses opportunities to reduce harm and how
Sheriffs and Correctional Commissioners
are constrained. Finally, I propose a new
framework for action that is both systemic
and practical, ending with a case study
and process and policy implications
for correctional system leaders.

THE TRADITIONAL PERSPECTIVE OF TRAUMA VIEWS PEOPLE
WHO ARE INCARCERATED, STAFF, AND COMMUNITIES
AS DISTINCT ENTITIES. WITH THIS FRAMING WE CANNOT
FULLY UNDERSTAND THE MECHANISMS OF TRAUMA AT
WORK, NOR THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR HARM REDUCTION

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

REDEFINING
THE SCOPE
OF TRAUMA
IN CORRECTIONAL
INSTITUTIONS

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

Trauma is commonly understood as an event
that is experienced or witnessed by a person
as harmful or life-threatening and that has
lasting consequences on the person’s mental,
emotional, spiritual, physical, and social
wellbeing (Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services 2014). In this context, the
experience is individualized and thus doesn’t
fully capture the depth and range of the
impact of trauma. Even when the reality
of trauma in correctional institutions is
fully appreciated, policies often only focus
on programs for people who are incarcerated,
as if they are the problem, instead of on
the system itself. In doing so, they miss the
opportunity to support the men and women
who work in these institutions and carry
the weight of things seen and unseen.
EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

□

Neither people who are incarcerated

(Sawyer and Wagner 2020). On any given day,

nor correctional staff live in isolation.

approximately 2.7 million U.S. children have

They have families who are directly and

a parent who is incarcerated, and more than

indirectly exposed to their own traumatic

5 million children have experienced parental

experiences and who feel the impact

incarceration in their lifetime (Peterson,

of the trauma faced by their loved ones

Cramer, and Fontaine 2019). Perhaps

through the ways in which they interact.

even more striking is the fact that 113 million,

The prevalence of trauma among people

or 1 in 2, U.S. adults have experienced

touched by correctional institutions far

the incarceration of an immediate family

surpasses the prevalence within the general

member (for example, parents, siblings,

community. Because of the connections

spouse, romantic partner, or a co-parent)

that exist among us and the large number

(Enns, Yi, Comfort, Goldman, Lee, Muller,

of people who are confined in and work

Wakefield, Wang, and Wildeman 2019).

in correctional institutions, the scope

Additionally, jails and prisons are staffed

of the impact of trauma is substantial.

with approximately 415,000 correctional

There are approximately 2.3 million

officers and a significant number of civilians

people confined in our nation’s jails and

(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018).

prisons. And every year, people are placed

Each of these people is connected to larger

in jails 10.6 million times and more than

communities, extending the reach of trauma

600,000 people enter our nation’s prisons

far beyond what has been measured.

BECAUSE OF THE CONNECTIONS THAT EXIST
AMONG US AND THE LARGE NUMBER OF
PEOPLE WHO ARE CONFINED IN AND WORK
IN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS, THE SCOPE
OF THE IMPACT OF TRAUMA IS SUBSTANTIAL

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

□

ALMOST EVERY PERSON CONFINED IN OUR
NATION’S JAILS AND PRISONS HAS BEEN
EXPOSED TO TRAUMA PRIOR TO OR DURING
THE PERIOD OF DETENTION

PREVALENCE OF TRAUMA AMONG
PEOPLE WHO ARE INCARCERATED
Almost every person confined in our

from a partner, and 60 percent reported

nation’s jails and prisons has been exposed

experiencing violence from a caregiver

to trauma prior to or during the period of

prior to age 18.

detention (Wolff, Shi, and Siegel; 2009;
Wolff, Huenig, Shi, and Frueh 2014, and

And during incarceration, the experience

Adams, Houston-Kolnik, and Reichert 2017).

of trauma is multiplied. A study of

One study of 592 adult men confined in

approximately 7,500 men and women

a high-security prison found that virtually

confined in 13 U.S. prisons illuminated

all of the respondents (99 percent) reported

how harmful the prison environment is

experiencing at least one traumatic event in

for people who are incarcerated (Wolff

their lifetime that involved violence directed

et al.2009). More than 35 percent of the

towards them and involved injury or shock

men and 24 percent of the women reported

(Wolff et al. 2014). Almost 71 percent of the

being physically victimized by either

group reported experiencing a traumatic

a staff member or another person who was

event prior to age 18—more than half of the

incarcerated in the last six months in the

men reported being hit with an object that

prison. The highest percentage of physical

caused bleeding or left marks, and more than

victimization for men occurred by staff

30 percent reported being threatened or

(25 percent vs 21 percent by another person

harmed with a gun or a knife.

who was incarcerated), whereas women
were more likely to be physically victimized

Another study found that 98 percent

by another person who was incarcerated

of women who were incarcerated had

(21 percent) than by a staff member (8

at least one traumatic experience

percent). More than 10 percent of the men

prior to incarceration (Green, Miranda,

who were incarcerated and more than 24

Daroowalla, and Siddique 2005). Intimate

percent of the women who were incarcerated

partner violence was the most common

reported experiencing sexual victimization

experience. Similarly, Lynch et al. (2012)

in the previous 6 months in the prison. Men

found that 86 percent of women confined

who experienced sexual victimization were

to jail reported experiencing sexual

more likely to have been victimized by a staff

violence in their lifetime, 77 percent

member (8 percent) than by another person

reported physical or sexual violence

who was incarcerated (4 percent).

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

□

The effects of trauma exist on a continuum.

people, or activities that remind the person

The experience of traumatic stress typically

of the traumatic event; negative thoughts

follows exposure to a traumatic event, but

and emotions; and changes in the person’s

most people are able to recover shortly

physical and emotional reactions (American

thereafter. For some people, the exposure

Psychiatric Association 2013). In the general

to traumatic events happens with such

community, an estimated 3 to 6 percent

frequency, duration, or intensity that they are

of men who experience a traumatic event

at increased risk of developing posttraumatic

go on to meet criteria for PTSD at some

stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental

point in their lifetime (American Psychiatric

health condition with symptoms that are

Association 2013). Yet Wolff et al. (2014)

serious, persist for more than one month,

found that 60 percent of the 95 percent

and create significant distress or impairment

of incarcerated men who have experienced

to a person’s daily functioning (American

direct physical violence in their lifetime have

Psychiatric Association 2013). Symptoms

experienced moderate to severe symptoms

include intrusive memories of the traumatic

of PTSD, while 29 percent have experienced

event; avoidance of conversation, places,

severe symptoms.

DURING INCARCERATION, THE EXPERIENCE OF TRAUMA
IS MULTIPLIED. A STUDY OF APPROXIMATELY 7,500 MEN
AND WOMEN CONFINED IN 13 U.S. PRISONS ILLUMINATED
HOW HARMFUL THE PRISON ENVIRONMENT IS FOR PEOPLE
WHO ARE INCARCERATED. MORE THAN 35 PERCENT OF THE
MEN AND 24 PERCENT OF THE WOMEN REPORTED BEING
PHYSICALLY VICTIMIZED BY EITHER A STAFF MEMBER OR
ANOTHER PERSON WHO WAS INCARCERATED IN THE LAST
SIX MONTHS IN THE PRISON

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

■

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

PERCENT (%)

10

100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

by a Correctional
Staff Person

by a Person who
was Incarcerated

PHYSICAL VICTIMIZATION

FIGURE 1
Prevalence of
Physical and Sexual
Victimization of
People Incarcerated.

Source: Wolff et al.
2009.

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

by a Correctional
Staff Person

by a Person who
was Incarcerated

SEXUAL VICTIMIZATION

-

Men who are Incarcerated
Women who are Incarcerated

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

□

TRAUMA IN CORRECTIONAL
INSTITUTIONS ALSO AFFECTS
CORRECTIONAL STAFF

PREVALENCE OF TRAUMA AMONG
CORRECTIONAL STAFF
The increased prevalence of trauma and

higher rates than other professionals

PTSD in corrections is not limited to the

(Spinaris, Denhof, and Morton 2013).

people incarcerated in these institutions,

Direct exposure can occur when correctional

although no other group’s experience

professionals are assaulted (physically,

of trauma is as dehumanizing. Trauma

sexually, with bodily fluids) by persons

in correctional institutions also affects

detained in the institution.

correctional staff. In 2013, Desert Waters
Correctional Outreach completed a study

Indirect exposure to traumatic events

of 3,599 correctional professionals from

occurs when correctional professionals:

49 states and 3 U.S. territories to determine
the prevalence of PTSD and depression in

— witness, respond to, or hear about

this group (Denhof and Spinaris 2013). They

a violent incident such as a colleague

found that 27 percent of the entire sample

being assaulted or a colleague

met criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD and

assaulting a person who is incarcerated,

approximately 26 percent met criteria for

self-harming behavior among staff and

depression with a high rate of comorbidity

people who are incarcerated, and death;

between the two. Prevalence rates were even
higher among security staff—with more than

— see videotaped incidents involving

34 percent meeting the criteria for PTSD and

assaults and other violent acts;

31 percent meeting criteria for depression
with high comorbidity between the two. It is

— witness an escape from the institution;

important to compare these percentages to
the prevalence in the general public where
approximately 7 percent of all U.S. adults

— read or hear about the reported crimes
of people who are incarcerated; or

have had a major depressive episode or
experienced PTSD in their lifetime (National
Institute of Mental Health 2017a; National

— listen to the traumatic experiences
of staff and people who are incarcerated.

Institute of Mental Health 2017b).
Additionally, the nature of the work requires
Correctional professionals experience direct

correctional staff to consider “what-if”

and indirect traumatic events at significantly

scenarios at all times to remain vigilant

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

and prepared to respond appropriately.

and laughing with each other, I would walk

It was a well-rehearsed scenario for

throughout the unit and sit down to play

me to stand at the front of the tier and

cards because the risk was less salient

talk with the officer for a few minutes to

though still present. Ironically enough,

assess his or her ability to respond quickly

in the more than ten years that I worked

and appropriately if something occurred

in corrections I was never threatened

and scan all of the people detained in

nor physically harmed by any person who

the unit to see if there was tension.

was incarcerated—only a sworn officer.

If I saw several people standing against
the wall with sneakers on and shoelaces

As a result of the direct exposures

tied tight, I would not go further, because

to trauma that correctional staff face,

I recognized that the possibility for an

family members are often concerned

incident was significant (I was trained that

about the physical safety of their loved

tightly tied shoelaces was an indication of

ones every time they go to work. As the

increased tensions in the living unit and that

wife of a correctional professional, I am

the probability of a fight was high). On the

no exception. And when I worked in the jail,

contrary, if I saw people sitting at tables

my husband worried just the same.

and playing cards or standing in flip flops

□

CORRECTIONAL PROFESSIONALS EXPERIENCE
DIRECT AND INDIRECT TRAUMATIC EVENTS
AT SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER RATES THAN
OTHER PROFESSIONALS

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

■

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

PERCENT (%)

13

100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

Prevalence of PTSD

FIGURE 2
Prevalence of PTSD
and Depression
Among Correctional
Professionals,
Correctional
Security Staff,
and the General
Population.

Sources: National
Institute of Mental
Health 2017a and
National Institute of
Mental Health 2017b.

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

Prevalence of Depression

--

General Population
Correctional Professionals
Correctional Security Staff Only

■
14

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

PREVALENCE OF TRAUMA AMONG FAMILIES
Incarceration not only affects the people

While most studies have focused on

who are detained in the institution and

the number of parents in prison, less is

the people who work there, but it also

known about the number of parents in jails

affects their families. As a child of

(Cramer et al. 2017). To better understand the

a parent who was formerly incarcerated,

prevalence of parental incarceration in jails,

and the wife of a correctional professional,

I partnered with the Cook County Sheriff’s

I’m still dealing with the traumatic effects

Office in Chicago to gather one year of self-

of both.

reported data from people remanded to the
custody of the jail. The Cook County Sheriff’s

□

More than 2.7 million children in the United

Office found that from approximately

States currently have a parent who is

March 2019 through February 2020,

incarcerated and more than 5 million children

73,539 children under the age of 18 were

(7 percent of all children in the United States)

impacted by parental incarceration in Cook

have had a parent incarcerated at some

County. On average, each person entering

point in their life (Cramer, Goff, Peterson,

Cook County Jail had at least one child

and Sandstrom 2017). This not only disrupts

under the age of 18, and the average daily

the family dynamic, but also the financial

population during the period of review

stability of the home and the community.

was approximately 5,000 people. Taking

Approximately 13 percent of children living

into account the people newly admitted to

in poverty have experienced parental

the jail as well as those who were already

incarceration compared to 4 percent

confined there, we now know that close

of children whose household income is

to 80,000 youth under the age of 18 and

at least twice the federal poverty level

presumably living in Cook County, Illinois

(Cramer et al. 2017).

experienced parental incarceration in one

INCARCERATION NOT ONLY AFFECTS THE PEOPLE WHO ARE
DETAINED IN THE INSTITUTION AND THE PEOPLE WHO WORK
THERE, BUT IT ALSO AFFECTS THEIR FAMILIES. AS A CHILD
OF A PARENT WHO WAS FORMERLY INCARCERATED, AND
THE WIFE OF A CORRECTIONAL PROFESSIONAL, I’M STILL
DEALING WITH THE TRAUMATIC EFFECTS OF BOTH

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

year. According to 2010 census data, that

behavior, engagement in the criminal

represents approximately 7 percent of the

justice system, poor school performance,

youth under the age of 18 living in Cook

risky health behaviors, and chronic health

County (Census Viewer 2010).

conditions (Parke and Clarke‑Stewart 2002).
Youth who have positive supports and

Parental incarceration affects children

a healthy relationship with their parent who

differently than other forms of parental

is incarcerated are better able to actualize

separation because of the uncertainty

the innate strengths that exist within them,

of the duration, the threat of harm to their

thereby increasing their likelihood for

loved one, and the shame and stigma that

positive life outcomes.

is often linked to the experience. When
children are too young to fully understand

Everyone within a correctional facility

why they are separated from a parent who

(staff and the people detained in the

is incarcerated, feelings of abandonment

facility) is exposed to traumatic events at

and rejection can be magnified (Cramer et al.

a significantly higher rate than the general

2017). While not a universal experience,

population. In this sense, the institution itself

youth without positive adult support, or

is traumatic. And because of the connective

youth with an unhealthy relationship with

tissue that exists among all of us, the impact

a parent who is incarcerated, are often

of this traumatic system spreads beyond

at increased risk of traumatic stress,

the institutional walls and into families

emotional distress, and social problems

and communities.

such as rule-breaking and law-breaking

□

PARENTAL INCARCERATION AFFECTS CHILDREN
DIFFERENTLY THAN OTHER FORMS OF PARENTAL
SEPARATION BECAUSE OF THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE
DURATION, BECAUSE OF THE THREAT OF HARM TO
THEIR LOVED ONE, AND BECAUSE OF THE SHAME AND
STIGMA THAT IS OFTEN LINKED TO THE EXPERIENCE

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

Trauma that originates in jails and prisons radiates through communities and is on ______,
a constant loop, spreading to individuals and ultimately back to the institution.

Work

Staff

♦-~

j

~(

:::::::

,- n

School

Returning People
Prison / Jail
Community Events

Worship

FIGURE 3
The Spread
of Trauma from
Correctional
Institutions Through
Community.

Trauma that originates
in jail/prison radiates
through community and
is on a feedback loop
back to the institution.
Source: Chicago
Beyond.

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

The Broader

Community

Home

■
17

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

IMPACT OF TRAUMA ON
INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
In normal human development, the brain

When a person who has a history of trauma

undergoes many changes throughout

is incarcerated and experiences continued

the lifespan. Depending on the age of the

dehumanization or when a correctional

person at the time of exposure to trauma,

professional experiences job-related

the specific impact will be different. Three

traumatic stress, they are at increased

primary areas within the brain are generally

risk of significant personality change,

impacted by traumatic stress: the prefrontal

including more negative perceptions of

cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC),

the world; difficulty experiencing joy, hope,

and the amygdala (Bremner 2006; Sweeton

meaning, and other spirituality changes;

2017). The prefrontal cortex is responsible

difficulty regulating their emotions; acting

for rational thinking, planning, problem-

out behavior; and conflict in interpersonal

solving, empathy, and awareness of other

relationships (Bremner 2006; Sweeton 2017).

people. The ACC, which is connected to
the prefrontal cortex, is partly responsible

Figure 3 illustrates how trauma extends

for regulating our emotions. The amygdala

beyond a person. When a traumatic

helps to determine if something is a threat,

event occurs at a correctional facility,

and if so it produces fear, which results

everyone who experienced, witnessed,

in our fight, flight, or freeze response.

or heard about it is at risk for experiencing

When traumatic stress is experienced,

significant negative impact. That could

the body experiences dramatic changes in

include dozens of people. Once each of

cortisol levels, a hormone that facilitates

the dozens of staff and people who are

survival responses. As a result of trauma,

incarcerated make contact with family

the areas that regulate thinking and

members, the experience may be described

emotions become underactive, while

in conversation or the impact may be felt

the area that regulates fear becomes

by the person’s interactions. Taking into

overactive (Bremner 2006; Sweeton 2017).

account the number of immediate family

So with exposure to frequent, prolonged,

members, the impact may then be expanded

or intense traumatic stress, people are

from dozens to hundreds of people. Each

more likely to experience chronic fear and

of those hundreds of people interact with

have a hard time regulating their thoughts

others at work, school, places of worship,

and feelings.

community events, and other places, and

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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18

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

can have those interactions impacted by

things that can be done to assist people

what they experienced, witnessed, or heard.

with correcting the neurological impacts of

The impact from there spreads throughout

trauma is to de-activate the fear center by

the larger community.

creating environments where people feel
safe (Bremner 2006; Sweeton 2017). When

Fortunately the neurological changes that

people feel physically and psychologically

occur following traumatic stressors can

safe, they are better able to activate and

be minimized with intervention and healing

strengthen the thinking and emotional

supports (Bremner 2006; Sweeton 2017).

centers of their brains, thereby making

This is true for everyone, including people

better decisions and are less likely to act

who are incarcerated, correctional staff,

out negatively. []

and families. One of the most important

□

WHEN A TRAUMATIC EVENT OCCURS
AT A CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, EVERYONE
WHO EXPERIENCED, WITNESSED, OR HEARD
ABOUT IT IS AT RISK FOR EXPERIENCING
SIGNIFICANT NEGATIVE IMPACT

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

CURRENT RESPONSES
TO TRAUMA
IN CORRECTIONAL
INSTITUTIONS

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

EXISTING FRAMEWORK FOR MITIGATING
TRAUMA IN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS
One of the most widely used models for

to actively reducing harms imposed by

becoming a trauma-informed institution

the institution. This process requires

was developed by the Substance Abuse

more than avoidance of re-traumatization;

and Mental Health Services Administration

it requires action. These institutions must

(SAMHSA). According to SAMHSA (2014),

acknowledge the harm that is inherent and

a trauma-informed institution is one that

centralize harm reduction in every facet

recognizes the prevalence, signs, and impact

of operation. And the models that exist do

of trauma and responds by integrating

not fully encompass what, in my experience,

knowledge about trauma into policies and

is necessary to get us there, especially

procedures and actively trying to avoid

mitigating the effect on families. Because

re-traumatizing people.

families are natural extensions of people
and almost immediately experience the

If correctional facilities were to use

impact of trauma, one of the primary areas

the SAMHSA model, we would see some

of focus for correctional facilities must be to

improvements to today’s correctional

support positive family engagement. In 2016,

systems. Some staff would feel valued and

the U.S. Office of the Assistant Secretary

have a positive outlook on their jobs, which

for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) studied

would improve some of the conditions

re-entry success in a sample of 1,000 men

for the people detained in the institution.

from across 5 states who were re-entering

Many people within the facility would be

the community from correctional facilities

knowledgeable about trauma and the

(Lindquist, Steffey, Tueller, Feinberg, McKay,

impacts of it, but that knowledge alone has

and Bir 2016). The study found that men

no clear pathway to harm reduction nor

who had more contact with their families

does it elevate the need to reduce the harm

during the period of incarceration were

caused to children and families impacted

more likely to become employed, more

by incarceration.

likely to financially support their children,
more likely to have a positive relationship

While this and other existing frameworks

with the co-parent upon release, and were

addressing trauma are beneficial, we

less likely to be re-incarcerated. □

have already established the importance
of moving beyond understanding trauma

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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21

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

A SHIFT TOWARDS
HARM REDUCTION

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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22

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

□

THE REALITY IS THAT SAFE SPACES DO
NOT EXIST FOR PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE
INCARCERATED AND “ACTING OUT” BEHAVIOR
CAN BE THE ONLY TOOL AT THEIR DISPOSAL
TO INCREASE THEIR SENSE OF SAFETY

MAKING THE CASE FOR HARM REDUCTION
As a correctional administrator, I often

husband that helped me realize that I was

considered how I could help to shift the

hurting as a result of how I approached the

institution from a system of punishment

job, and I needed to start my own healing

and trauma to one of harm reduction, but

process. Specifically, I needed to create

there were countless challenges to consider.

enough space between me and the job that

I was responsible for the lives of more than

I could take better care of my physical and

8,000 people who were incarcerated and

emotional health and be better prepared to

staff in a facility with high gang tensions,

help the people detained in the institution

tense relationships among staff, a significant

and staff to take better care of their health.

number of people with complex emotional

I realized that by acknowledging my own

and behavioral health needs, and a budget

need for healing, I could also acknowledge

that would not allow for costly tools

the needs of others. The steps that I took

and programs.

to get back to a healthier version of myself
gave me a foundation for what could help the

Given all of the challenges and day-to-day

staff and the people detained in the facility,

activities that correctional administrators

the staff, and ultimately their families

contend with, there is often very little

and the larger community.

time left to think through how to best
approach harm reduction. Perhaps the

I started by creating a safe space for myself.

most significant challenge I faced was

To create that space, I set aside specific

myself. About midway through my tenure

times in the day when I would close my

as a correctional administrator, I started

office door or go for a walk outside of the

to feel the impact of the job. I wasn’t

institution. I recognized that it was not

sleeping. I was eating poorly. I was slowly

easy for staff to find space for themselves

losing parts of myself to the institution, but

outside of their breakroom, so we created

I did not see it. On the surface, I thought

a relaxation room for them to take 15 minutes

I was relatively comfortable interacting

to relax during their lunch break.

with the men and women confined in the
institution even though gang tensions were

The reality is that safe spaces do not exist

high. What I later realized was that I was

for people when they are incarcerated and

not only on high alert inside of the jail, but

“acting out” behavior can be the only tool

I was easily triggered at home and in the

at their disposal to increase their sense

community. It was a conversation with my

of safety. It was not uncommon for a young

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

□

THE HEADLINE IS THAT WHEN WE TREAT PEOPLE
WITH HUMANITY AND COMPASSION AND INVEST
IN THE STRENGTHS THAT ALREADY EXIST WITHIN
THEM, WE EFFECTIVELY TAKE STEPS TO REDUCE
THE HARMS THAT THESE INSTITUTIONS CAUSE

man or woman to threaten or to attack

throughout the week and connect directly

a person housed in their cell for fear of

with them. At first, each walk ended with

being attacked when sleeping. It was for

a list of problem areas. As we tackled some

this reason that we recognized a need to

of the identified problems, my interactions

increase the number of living units focused

became more conversational. Through those

on programming in the facility. As we tracked

interactions, I started to see similarities

incidents, we realized that people who

between the ways that I experienced the jail

participated in enrichment programming

as harmful and the ways that staff and the

were less likely to act out. And we found

people detained there experienced the jail.

that staff who were interested in facilitating
some of these programs were more likely to

Understanding the value of connection,

have positive interactions with people who

we created more opportunities for staff

were incarcerated.

and the people detained in the institution
to see value and similarities in each other.

When staff and the people detained in

We instituted dozens of programs for the

the institution would share their concerns

people detained in the facility including

with me, I started being more transparent

mental wellness, employment skills training,

with them about the complexities of the

education, and spiritual groups. We also

problems they identified and inviting

championed a staff-led movement to create

them to assist with finding solutions

positive work environments that encouraged

that would work for all. Typically,

fellowship and healthy lifestyle practices.

correctional institutions have paramilitary

In the first year, the movement garnered

communication practices, requiring staff

the support of a quarter of the staff.

and the people detained in the institutions
to direct their communications to their

The headline is that when we treat

immediate supervisors. It was my experience

people with humanity and compassion

that both groups were harmed by things

and invest in the strengths that already

that the executive staff knew nothing about,

exist within them, we effectively take

creating a greater divide. I made it a practice

steps to reduce the harms that these

to walk through the institution multiple times

institutions cause. a

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

A FRAMEWORK
FOR HARM REDUCTION
IN CORRECTIONAL
INSTITUTIONS

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

THE STAAC FRAMEWORK
To acknowledge the importance of reducing

resources, signage, procedures, and more

harms caused by the institution to the people

all promote a sense of safety.

detained in correctional facilities, the staff
and their families, I created the Safety,

Transparency and Trust-building: The

Transparency and Trust-building, Agency,

people detained in the facility, correctional

Asset-based Approach, and Connectedness

staff, and their families and communities

(STAAC) framework. The intention of the

must be made aware of policy, institutional

STAAC framework is aspirational and

operations, and data points to build trust and

outlines necessary shifts in correctional

collaboration between these groups.

system policy, procedure, and training to
support the intersection of harm reduction

Agency: The people detained in the facility,

for the people detained in the facility

correctional staff, and their families and

and their families, correctional staff and

communities have the tools and resources

their families, and the larger community.

to support their own healing and support

As consideration for all stakeholders

the healing of their peers. Although

must occur simultaneously, institutions

incarceration historically inhibits agency

must also simultaneously elevate each

among people who are detained and

of the framework components. For

their families, the centralization of harm

example, it is imperative that institutions

reduction requires these institutions to

acknowledge that safety cannot be

actively increase the ability of these two

present where connectedness is not

groups to act in their own best interest

allowed. The framework supports the

towards healing.

notion that even in a system that is
inherently traumatic, we must shift the

Asset-based Approach: The facility

values of the institution so it is rooted

administrators and policy makers believe

in humanity and compassion.

in the strengths of the people detained in
the facility, correctional staff, and their

Safety: The people detained in the

families and communities and build upon

facility, correctional staff, and their

these strengths to promote voice, build

families and communities feel physically

resilience, and influence harm reduction

and psychologically safe and are held

through language, programs, policies,

accountable when they cause harm.

procedures, and training. The people

Interpersonal interactions, programs,

detained in the facility, correctional staff,

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

□

THE FRAMEWORK SUPPORTS THE NOTION THAT
EVEN IN A SYSTEM THAT IS INHERENTLY TRAUMATIC,
WE MUST SHIFT THE VALUES OF THE INSTITUTION
SO IT IS ROOTED IN HUMANITY AND COMPASSION

and their families and communities also

Engage people detained in the institution

believe in the strengths of each other and

in discussions about the policies and

build upon those strengths.

procedures. Administrators should be
prepared to discuss the purpose of the

Connectedness: Positive interpersonal

policies and procedures as it relates to the

interactions are essential to harm

intersection of safety for the people detained

reduction. The facility actively promotes

in the facility, the staff, and the larger

positive interpersonal connectivity and seeks

community and to incorporate feedback

to minimize power dynamics within and across

when applicable (Safety; Transparency

the people detained in the facility, the people

and Trust-building; Agency; Asset-based

who work there, and their families and

Approach; Connectedness).

communities to reflect the collective
responsibility of harm reduction.

— Policies, procedures, post orders, and
staff should use person-first language

While the shift towards harm reduction

when talking with or about people

is a multi-year journey, I have listed a few

detained in the institution, referring

tangible ways that the framework can be

to them as people instead of “inmate,”

implemented. Some of the strategies are

“detainee,” or “offender.”

more difficult to implement than others.
More important than the list of strategies

Engage people detained in the institution

is the need to center harm reduction for

in discussions about the supports they

everyone touched by the institution in such

believe would be beneficial to them.

a way that no one group experiences injury

Administrators should be prepared

as a result of institutional policy, practice,

to incorporate the feedback received

and training.

(Transparency and Trust-building; Agency;
Asset-based Approach).

FOR PEOPLE DETAINED
IN THE INSTITUTION

Facilitate onsite programming for mental
wellness, substance use services, education,
life skills (e.g., computer skills, banking

Acknowledge the magnitude of the trauma

and budgeting, resume writing), parenting

that people detained in the institution

skills, peer support, and job training skills

experience and raise their awareness

(Safety; Agency; Asset-based Approach;

about the importance of self-care

Connectedness).

techniques (Agency).

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

Ensure facility disciplinary practices are

and Trust‑building; Agency; Asset‑based

humane and focused on accountability

Approach; Connectedness).

in lieu of punishment (Safety; Agency;
Asset-based Approach).

Develop a family engagement
program (Safety; Trust-building

Make the correctional environment as

and Transparency; Agency; Asset-based

aesthetically pleasing and relaxing as

Approach; Connectedness).

possible using calming paint, soft music,
plants and flowers, etc. (Safety).

— Administrators should engage families
of people detained in the institution in

Provide re-entry services including

ongoing discussions about the supports

a network of support services building

they believe would be beneficial to

off of the institutional programs that

their healing and provide access

were offered (Safety; Agency; Asset-based

to these supports.

Approach; Connectedness).

— The correctional system should actively
seek out partnerships with community

FOR FAMILIES OF PEOPLE
DETAINED IN THE INSTITUTION

organizations focused on supporting
the wellbeing of the family unit.
— Families should be informed of the
potential stressors their loved ones

Acknowledge the trauma that families

who are incarcerated faces and how to

of people detained in the institution

effectively engage with them in visits,

experience and work to limit the

phone calls, letters, and upon release

continuation of harm (Safety).

from the facility.
— The correctional system should provide

Offer seminars to families where

comprehensive family engagement

they are able to offer feedback about

efforts such as family-friendly

institutional policies and procedures.

visitation that allows for physical

Administrators should be prepared to

contact and child-centered activities.

explain the purpose of the policies and

Video visitation should only be used

procedures as it relates to the intersection

as an adjunct to in-person visitation

of safety for the people detained in

or in emergent situations.

the facility, the staff, and the larger

— Families should have access to free

community and to incorporate feedback

telephone communication with their

when applicable (Safety; Transparency

loved ones who are incarcerated.

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

Provide correctional staff with pre-

staff, the people detained in the facility,

employment and annual training on effective

and the larger community; and increase

engagement with children and families.

transparency with all stakeholder groups

Training should include information on the

when violence is used (Safety; Transparency

impact of parental incarceration on children

and Trust‑building; Agency; Asset-based

and effective ways to engage with children

Approach; Connectedness).

and families. Additionally, the training
should allow staff opportunities to practice,

Engage staff in ongoing discussions about

ask questions, and reflect on experiences

the healing supports they believe would

(Safety; Agency; Asset‑based Approach;

benefit them. Administration should be

Connectedness).

prepared to incorporate the feedback
(Transparency and Trust-building;

Make the correctional environment that

Agency; Asset-based Approach).

families experience (e.g. visitation spaces,
bonding rooms, and pick-up locations)

Train all staff, including administrators,

as aesthetically pleasing and relaxing as

on effective ways to engage with others

possible--using, for example, calming paint,

(Safety; Agency; Asset-based Approach;

soft music, plants and flowers, and child-

Connectedness).

friendly signage and play areas. (Safety).
Incorporate comprehensive staff wellness
Reduce the harms experienced

seminars into the pre-employment and annual

by families entering and exiting

trainings. The trainings should include a staff

the institution (Safety).

resource guide for services within and outside
of the department (Safety; Agency;

FOR STAFF

Asset-based Approach).
Make the work environment as aesthetically

Engage staff in ongoing discussions

pleasing and relaxing as possible using

about policies and procedures and what

calming paint, soft music, plants and

they believe would help them feel safer.

flowers, etc. (Safety).

Administration should be prepared to
explain how positive interactions reduce

Acknowledge the experiences

the likelihood of violence; explain the

of trauma for staff and raise their awareness

purpose of policies and procedures as it

about the importance of self-care

relates to the intersection of safety for

techniques (Agency).

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

FOR FAMILIES OF STAFF

As correctional facilities make the necessary

Acknowledge the impact of trauma

inspire the shift within other organizations.

on the families of employees and raise
their awareness about the importance
of self-care techniques. Administration
must be prepared to provide access
to the resources necessary for the
self‑care of staff families (Agency).
Offer seminars to employee families about
the stressful nature of the job, signs of toxic
partner stress, and wellness resources for
the staff and their partners (Transparency
and Trust‑building; Agency; Asset-based
Approach; Connectedness).
Engage families in discussions about the
supports they believe would be beneficial
to them and make attempts to incorporate
their feedback in the organization
(Transparency and Trust-building; Agency;
Asset-based Approach).

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

shifts towards harm reduction, they will likely
More importantly, correctional facilities
will position themselves to be rooted in and
accountable to the community.
As the award-winning author S. Kelley
Harrell said, “We don’t heal in isolation
but in community.” □

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30

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

CASE EXAMPLE
OF HARM-REDUCING
PRACTICES IN
A CORRECTIONAL
INSTITUTION

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

FAMILY-FRIENDLY VISITATION PILOT
AT COOK COUNTY JAIL
The Sheriff of Cook County Jail had long

Policies: Language changes to

been wanting to support children who

reflect person-centered references;

were visiting their loved ones who were

harm‑reducing practices that center the

incarcerated. In 2020, Chicago Beyond,

experiences of children and families; and

an impact investor focused on youth equity

inclusion of information specific to contact

and where I serve as the Managing Director

visitation and key elements of the experience

of Justice Initiatives, partnered with the

(Safety; Transparency and Trust‑building;

jail to revise its policies, procedures,

Agency; Asset-based Approach;

training, and visitation to reduce harms

Connectedness).

associated with family visitation for the
people detained in the facility and their

Culture and Environment: Clear vision

children and families. In an effort to create

shared by facility leadership and articulated

a model for family-friendly visitation that

to staff; staff training; and provision

would allow for widespread use by all people

of cohort wellness programming and

detained in the correctional facility, increase

parenting classes to build opportunities

family engagement, and garner staff buy-in,

for peer support (Safety; Transparency

Chicago Beyond developed the following

and Trust-building; Agency; Asset-based

visitation model (see Figure 4).

Approach; Connectedness).

DIMENSION 1: INSTITUTIONAL
TRANSFORMATION AND ENGAGEMENT
Family Engagement: Understanding the
number of children impacted by parental
incarceration; identification of family needs;
development of community resource guides
for families; and referrals to community
programming and support (Transparency
and Trust-building; Agency; Asset‑based
Approach; Connectedness).

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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32

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

Dimension 2
Trauma-Informed
& Family-Friendly Visitation

Dimension 1
Institutional Transformation
& Engagement

o.

I
~f~

Engagement

~

Human-Centered &
Trauma-Informed
Practices

Expansive Visitation
Experience

VISITATION
DEVELOPMENT CYCLE
Culture&
Environment

Dimension4
Stakeholder & Community Voice

•
,-,

---•••
FIGURE 4
Source: Chicago
Beyond.

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

•••
•••
L8 J
Support for the Person
who is Incarcerat ed

Policies

Jail Visitation
Development Cycle.

Dimension3
Reentry & Post-Visit Engagement

Family
Support

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33

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

DIMENSION 2: TRAUMA‑INFORMED
AND FAMILY‑FRIENDLY VISITATION

DIMENSION 3: RE‑ENTRY
AND POST‑VISIT ENGAGEMENT

Human-Centered and Trauma-Informed

Support for the Person Who Is Incarcerated:

Practices: Non-invasive and trauma-

Re-entry planning starting at intake into

informed searches of families; casual

the facility; transition support when

clothing for staff and people who are

transitioning to prison and to the community

incarcerated; humanistic interactions

(Safety; Agency; Asset-based Approach;

between staff and people who are

Connectedness).

incarcerated and families/community;
and calming rooms for families and people

Family Support: Access to community

who are incarcerated to use prior to

programming and support; access to

and following the visit (Safety; Transparency

resources (Safety; Transparency and

and Trust-building; Agency; Asset-based

Trust-building; Agency; Asset-based

Approach; Connectedness).

Approach; Connectedness).

Expansive Visitation Experience:
Authentic family interactions (e.g., playing
games; sharing snacks); support

DIMENSION 4: INCORPORATING
STAKEHOLDER AND COMMUNITY VOICE

from non-uniformed correctional
and programming staff; structured

Stakeholder Voice: Community feedback

programming during the visit; and

that ensures the facility is engaging in harm-

spaces that are appropriate for multiple

reducing practices and offering authentic

ages (Agency; Asset-based Approach;

engagement for families; staff debriefings;

Connectedness).

and sharing of information on infraction
reductions to build buy-in (Transparency
and Trust-building; Agency; Asset-based
Approach; Connectedness).

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

In partnership with the local children’s

both visits were deemed successful by

museum and a trauma-focused mental

correctional staff, the participating fathers,

health organization, we piloted two visitation

and their families. At the moment that the

experiences to demonstrate the positive

doors of the visitation room opened and

impact of this visitation model. One visitation

children ran to their fathers to embrace

occurred outside of the correctional facility

them, everyone in the room was overcome

in the children’s museum, and the other

with emotion. For two hours, the room

occurred in an area of the correctional

was filled with fathers, children, and staff

facility that was temporarily repurposed

(sworn and civilian staff from each partner

for child-friendly visitation using exhibit

organization) who helped to facilitate play

structures from the children’s museum.

instead of filling the stereotypical roles

Both visits had key elements that were

occupied by staff and the people confined.

rooted in harm reduction, including the

One participating father expressed his

elimination of uniforms for the people

thoughts in a post-visit meeting, saying

detained in the facility as well as the staff

“Seeing my kid and being able to have this

(they were allowed to wear their personal

opportunity motivates me to be a better dad.”

clothing), humane security practices,

During a post-visit debrief, one four-year-old

positive engagement between the staff

daughter said, “I feel better knowing that

and others using given names as opposed

my daddy has friends in here.” In a debriefing

to terms like “offender” or “inmate,” family

with correctional staff, one staff member

activities, and case management services

stated, “The visit helped change how

for families to access community resources

law enforcement relates to the community

(see Figure 4).

and combat the stigma and bias associated
with law enforcement.” a

Because the facility is in the process
of expanding the visitation model throughout
the jail, quantitative outcome data is not
yet available. As the visitation model is
expanded with fidelity, it is anticipated
that more families will be able to maintain
positive relationships with their loved
ones who are incarcerated, people who
are incarcerated will have greater re-entry
success, and the facility will experience
a decrease in incidents. Qualitatively,

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

TABLE 1
Family-Friendly Visitation Pilot at the Cook County Jail
VISIT STRUCTURE

PRE-VISIT ACTIVITIES

Trauma-Informed Environment:

Fathers selected from an in-custody wellness program

Touch visits

Fathers placed into a ‘cohort,’ which allowed the visit to feel
more comfortable given familiarity

Limited carceral elements (e.g., wires, bars) clearly present
Fathers and officers dressed in plain clothes
Time check on remaining visitation time to allow families
time to prepare for goodbyes
Staff:
All staff (including officers) positively engaged with children
All staff (including officers) positively engaged with fathers
and used person-first language
Visit Activities:
Various activities for youth of different ages
Lunch available throughout the visit
Photo booth for family pictures
Children received books selected by fathers
with signed messages
Bilingual mental health clinicians on-site

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

Fathers attended parenting classes
Calming room allocated in case a father needed to de-escalate
Transportation assistance offered to families
Tailored orientation scripts for families and fathers
in English and Spanish
Joint trauma training for staff
POST-VISIT SUPPORT
Case Manager present to talk with families and share
information about available resources
Community resource packets available for families

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

CONCLUSION
Incarceration is traumatic, and the

reduction is critical from this perspective.

institutions charged with that function—

There are many specific measures that can

prisons and jails—operate in a way that

be used in correctional settings to decrease

is most traumatic for the people who are

harm, including incarcerating fewer people.

incarcerated, and also for the staff who

But the key ideas center around one core

work in them, families, and the broader

concept: correctional leaders promoting

community. This paper has tried to

human interaction that is respectful,

reconceive how prisons and jails might

warm, and supportive in contexts

function if addressing trauma was adopted

of safety and mutual trust. a

as a first priority. The project of harm

□

THE KEY IDEAS CENTER AROUND ONE CORE
CONCEPT: CORRECTIONAL LEADERS PROMOTING
HUMAN INTERACTION THAT IS RESPECTFUL, WARM,
AND SUPPORTIVE IN CONTEXTS OF SAFETY AND
MUTUAL TRUST

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HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

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EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

AUTHOR NOTE

The author would like to thank
Executive Session colleagues
Kevin Thom, Danielle Sered, Liz Glazer,
Vinny Schiraldi, Emily Wang, and
Vivian Nixon for their thoughtful
feedback. She would also like
to thank Madison Dawkins,
Anamika Dwivedi and Katharine
Huffman for their research, editing,
feedback, and tremendous support
in preparing this publication.
The author would like to acknowledge
the Cook County Sheriff’s Office
for their support of this publication.
Lastly, the author would like to thank
the entire Chicago Beyond team
and Kayla Woodard for their editing,
feedback, and support.

Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia is a clinical
psychologist and the Managing Director
of Justice Initiatives at Chicago
Beyond, an impact investor fighting
for all young people to achieve their
fullest human potential by investing in
organizations, ideas, and individuals in
Chicago and nationally. Chicago Beyond
helped to determine the prevalence
of youth impacted by parental
incarceration in a jail and supported
the transformational visitation pilots
at Cook County Jail.

designbysoapbox.com

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

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40

HARM REDUCTION AT THE CENTER OF INCARCERATION

MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE SESSION
ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY
Abbey Stamp | Executive Director,
Multnomah County Local Public
Safety Coordinating Council
Amanda Alexander | Founding
Executive Director, Detroit Justice
Center & Senior Research Scholar,
University of Michigan School of Law
Arthur Rizer | Vice President of
Technology, Criminal Justice and
Civil Liberties, Lincoln Network
Bruce Western | Co-Founder, Square
One Project; Co-Director, Justice
Lab & Bryce Professor of Sociology
and Social Justice, Columbia
University
Danielle Sered | Executive Director,
Common Justice
Daryl Atkinson | Founder and
Co-Director, Forward Justice
Elizabeth Glazer | Former Director,
New York City’s Mayor’s Office
of Criminal Justice
Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo |
C. R. Hutcheson Endowed Associate
Professor, Human Development
& Family Studies, Texas Tech
University
Elizabeth Trosch | Chief District
Court Judge, 26th Judicial District of
North Carolina

EXECUTIVE SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE POLICY

Emily Wang | Professor of
Medicine, Yale School of Medicine;
Director, SEICHE Center for
Health and Justice; & Co-Founder,
Transitions Clinic Network
Greisa Martinez Rosas | Executive
Director, United We Dream
Jeremy Travis | Co-Founder,
Square One Project; Executive Vice
President of Criminal Justice, Arnold
Ventures; President Emeritus, John
Jay College of Criminal Justice
Katharine Huffman | Executive
Director, Square One Project, Justice
Lab, Columbia University & Founding
Principal, The Raben Group

Nancy Gertner | Professor, Harvard
Law School & Retired Senior Judge,
United States District Court for
the District of Massachusetts
Nneka Jones Tapia | Managing
Director of Justice Initiatives,
Chicago Beyond
Patrick Sharkey | Professor
of Sociology and Public Affairs,
Princeton University & Founder,
AmericanViolence.org
Robert Rooks | Chief Executive
Officer, REFORM Alliance
& Co-Founder of Alliance
for Safety & Justice

Kevin Thom | Sheriff, Pennington
County, SD

Sylvia Moir | Interim Police Chief,
Napa, CA & Former Chief of Police,
Tempe, AZ

Kris Steele | Executive Director,
TEEM

Thomas Harvey | Director, Justice
Project, Advancement Project

Laurie Garduque | Director, Criminal
Justice, John D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation

Tracey Meares | Walton Hale
Hamilton Professor, Yale Law School
& Founding Director, The Justice
Collaboratory

Lynda Zeller | Senior Fellow
Behavioral Health, Michigan Health
Endowment Fund
Matthew Desmond | Professor
of Sociology, Princeton University
& Founder, The Eviction Lab
Melissa Nelson | State Attorney,
Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit

Vikrant Reddy | Senior Fellow,
Charles Koch Institute
Vincent Schiraldi | Senior Research
Scientist, Columbia University School
of Social Work & Co-Director, Justice
Lab, Columbia University
Vivian Nixon | Executive Director,
College and Community Fellowship

THt
SQUARt ONt

PRDJrCT
REIMAGINE JUSTICE

The Executive Session on the
Future of Justice Policy, part
of the Square One Project, brings
together researchers, practitioners,
policy makers, advocates, and
community representatives to
generate and cultivate new ideas.
The group meets in an off-the-record setting
twice a year to examine research, discuss new
concepts, and refine proposals from group
members. The Session publishes a paper series
intended to catalyze thinking and propose
policies to reduce incarceration and develop
new responses to violence and the other social
problems that can emerge under conditions of
poverty and racial inequality. By bringing together
diverse perspectives, the Executive Session tests
and pushes its participants to challenge their
own thinking and consider new options.

~ COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

I JUSTICE LAB

 

 

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