Strategic Plan: Cook County Department of Corrections
Cook County Department of Corrections is a correctional unit ranked among the largest pre-detention facilities across United States. It was established in Cook County, Illinois in 1831 to hold pre-trial detainees. The Illinois State Legislature in Chicago is accredited for the establishment of the correctional facility. Initially, the correctional facility lacked a county courthouse and jail until 1835 due to low rates in crime. The population however continued to grow prompting crime rates to rise by 1850. As a result, a large court and jail was built tasked in holding offenders who had committed serious crimes. Thus, petty offenders such as drunkards and people guilty of disturbing public peace were detained briefly on short-term basis (Thomas & Daniel, 2010).
The mission statement of the Cook County Department of Corrections asserts that, the correctional facility strives to ensure safety measures are upheld to safeguard citizens, correctional staffs, and inmates. It also strives to provide a central location in order to screen and classify defendants. The location however has to be safe, humane, secure, positive, constitutionally operated, and effective. As a result, highly qualified correctional department staffs are hired, trained, and motivated to dedicate their skills towards enhancing security measures in the facility as well as the county, State and country. Currently, it holds at least one hundred thousand detainees per year according to the departmental statistics. The average daily detainee number approximated at nine thousand. It covers an area of ninety six acres hence, covering more than eight blocks in a city. It comprises of various divisions tasked in providing healthcare, educational, and food services among others (Thomas, 2015).
The Cook County Department of Corrections has an inbuilt detainee visiting area, law library, dispensary, staff offices, chapel, and, a multipurpose room. It also has a day room within the living units allowing detainees to consume their meals and watch television or engage in other forms of entertainment. The programs offered at the Cook County Department of Corrections include the Women’s Residential Program, Correctional Rehabilitation Workers, Sheriff’s Female Furlough Program, and MOM’s Program (Thomas, 2015).
There are other programs offering educational, medical, and support services. For example, the Chicago Board of Education is required to provide high school level educational services to detainees aged between seventeen and twenty one years old. This vision is achieved through the Consuela B. York Alternative High School and the PACE institute which offers Adult Basic and General Education Diploma preparation. Outdoor and indoor physical activities are also offered to impart detainees with cultural, theatrical, musical, and educational skills through motivational programs such as the Life Learning Program. To ensure detainees’ physical and mental health conditions are stable, their health needs are classified during intake. The Cook County Health Services and Cermak Hospital provide medical services as they hire more than six hundred full and part time staffs. Support services such as laundry, commissary, sanitation and grounds maintenance as well as the Central Kitchen Facility services and operations are maintained by the Support Services Department (Thomas, 2015).
More than thirty thousand meals are served on a daily basis. More than one million pounds of laundry have to be undertaken within the institution annually. Thus, the department spends approximately sixty four dollars on a daily basis to host a single detainee. The annual cost is estimated at twenty three thousand four hundred dollars. Ultimately, the program services department is therefore required to develop, direct, and organize all the programs, services, and activities offered within the Cook County Department of Corrections. This ensures detainees’ welfares, and fair or humane operations within the department are promoted effectively and efficiently (Thomas, 2015).
In order to provide the services mentioned above and ensure programs are running effectively and efficiently, the Cook County Department of Corrections has to employ uniformed and other staffs. Foremost, the head of the department within the correctional facility comprises of an executive director, chief of staff, and director of inmate services. This leadership further branches into four assistant executive directors. More importantly, superintendents heading divisions and specialty units are hired, trained, and tasked to manage, control, and ensure programs and services affecting or influencing detainees within the correctional facility are effectively and efficiently undertaken. Thus, the recent statistics recorded in 2015 affirm that Cook County Department of Corrections employs approximately three thousand five hundred sworn and civilian employees (Thomas, 2015).
The strategic plan developed below therefore aims to achieve goals and objectives in order to improve the Cook County Department of Corrections. Foremost, the strategic plan aims to ensure the detainees within the facility are safe and secure as they receive recreational services and programs before being integrate back to the society as reformed individuals. Thus, people incarcerated at the Cook County Department of Corrections may be labeled criminals or offenders. However, they should be provided with safe and humane environments as their civil and human rights should be upheld. Thus, the main objective of this strategic plan is to ensure that process of treating detainees as human beings is an unbounded responsibility to be upheld by the Cook County Department of Corrections. Secondly, the strategic plan aims to ensure the Cook County Department of Corrections does not suffer due to overpopulation in the future. United States correctional facilities are facing various challenges associated with overpopulation. Ensuring Cook County Department of Corrections does not suffer from this challenge is therefore crucial as it will guarantee the facility’s capacity to ensure detainees are reformed is maintained effectively and efficiently (USDPJ, 2008).
The third objective is allied to forms of punishment incorporated within the Cook County Department of Corrections. Detainees in a correctional facility are required to undergo physical, mental, and psychological reforms before they are allowed to integrate with other members of the community. This is because criminals often suffer from medical conditions prompting them to commit offensive activities. Thus, Cook County Department of Corrections should avoid severe punishments in order to reform the detainees. Instead, human, humane, safe, and viable forms of punishments should be incorporated to cure and reform the detainees into responsible citizens (USDPJ, 2008).
The final objective is to ensure operations and functions undertaken within the Cook County Department of Corrections are properly planned, coordinated, managed, controlled, and undertaken effectively and efficiently. Upholding these measures guarantees programs and services offered within the Cook County Department of Corrections facility currently and in the future are effectively reforming and transforming the detainees. Thus, channels and modes of communication, management and leadership styles should be assessed and evaluated to determine if they are clear, effective, and efficient. Consequently, the executive director at the organization can be assured the organization’s mission and vision statements as well as correctional goals and objectives are achieved effectively and efficiently (LGC, 2015).
Communication is crucial aspect in upholding leadership in a correctional facility. The skill of engaging in clear communication requires experience. The departmental leadership board should therefore identify communication strategies applicable to the Cook County Department of Corrections. For example, the head of the department can notice reluctance, ignorance, and lack of following rules among staffs required to implement rules and regulations for a smooth running of the facility. In order to solve and prevent such an issue from occurring in the future, the departmental leader ought to ensure communication skills involve full range human interaction. Thus, the executive director can communicate with the staffs in groups to enhance the element of human interaction. Consequently, the executive director can request for a full organizational meeting to ensure staffs are coordinated in undertaking their duties and responsibilities in the correctional facility. This can reduce miscommunications and conflicts. Ultimately, direct, clear, and written emails, reports, memos, memorandums, and decisions prioritized according to organizational needs should be communicated. This ensures ideas, opinions, and suggestions defining and upholding the organization’s mission, values, and objectives are documented, effectively communicated hence implemented efficiently (Campbell, 2005).
Coordination (Formal Channels)
The coordination function in a correctional facility involves counting the number of detainees regularly to avoid incidences of break outs. It also involves providing detainees with three nutritional and balanced meals on a daily basis. More importantly, a correctional facility should provide the detainees with medical services. Medical clinic schedules should be established to avoid spread of diseases and deaths within the facility. Commissary hours of operation should also be determined as well as academic and vocational program schedules. These schedules should be consistent in order to ensure the operations and functions are coordinated across the correctional facility. The Cook County Department of Corrections should therefore allow volunteers to participate in providing various programs and services to the detainees such as religious and cultural assistances. This assists detainees to transition after they are integrated back to the community. The volunteers should however obey and respect the schedules in order to uphold the coordination function within the Cook County Department of Corrections. More so, this reduces incidences of volunteers helping the detainees to continue committing crime. More importantly, coordinating the volunteers’ activities can guarantee detainees are benefiting from the services and programs beings offered (Seiter, 2002).
A correctional facility cannot function without any form of cooperation. Foremost, the staffs employed ought to cooperate in order to implement policies and decisions formulated to enhance the quality of services and programs offered to the detainees. About Cook County Department of Corrections, informal cooperation is vital. This is because the organization is large hence, likely to face challenges allied to lack of leadership cooperation. The executive director should therefore ensure policies are implemented to coordinate and monitor tasks and duties undertaken by informal staffs. For example, religious and cultural leaders as well as medical staff volunteers should be regularly monitored. This ensures their activities are allied to the organization’s mission. The informal staffs within Cook County Department of Corrections should therefore cooperate in ensuring rules, regulations, and policies implemented to guide and monitor activities undertaken within the correctional facility. The executive director and other formal staffs within Cook County Department of Corrections can therefore be assured the facility’s mission and vision statements are respected and upheld. Consequently, incidences of staff misconducts and illegal dealings among detainees facilitated by corrupt and unethical employees can be resolved and prevented (Campbell, 2005).
Campbell, N. M. (2005). National Institute of Corrections: Correctional Leadership Competencies for the 21st Century: Executives and Senior Level Leaders. National Institute of Corrections Report.
Legacy Group Company (LGC). (2015). Case Study: Cook County Department of Corrections. Retrieved on 13th June 2015 from: http://www.specritedesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CookCounty.pdf
Seiter, R. P. (2002). Correctional Administration: Integrating Theory and Practice. Upper Saddle: New Jersey, Prentice-Hall.
Thomas, D. (2015). Programs and Services: Cook County Department of Corrections. Retrieved on 13th June 2015 from: http://www.cookcountysheriff.com/doc/doc_ProgramsAndServices.html
Thomas, D., & Daniel, G. (2010). In the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois: Agreed Order. Retrieved on 13th June 2015 from: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/CookCountyJail_AgreedOrder_05-13-2010.pdf
United States Department of Justice (USDPJ). (2008). Cook County Department of Corrections: Civil Rights Division. Retrieved on 13th June 2015 from: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/national/Cook_County_Jail_Findings_Letter.pdf