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This is a book about the local jail–how it developed, how they work, and what jail staffs are doing to protect the public and keep inmates safely confined. Written from a practitioner’s point of view, its goal is to give the reader a realistic view of this often overlooked institution. Critical issues such as the traits of offenders, the climate, and security are discussed, as well as the main operations of the jail such as booking and classification. Insights from those within (staff and inmates) reinforce the book’s real world perspective and current statistics and research document the development and operation of local jails.
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From: Ed Wolahan, Correctional Program Specialist
Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons, National Institute of Corrections
Sub: The American Jail: Cornerstone of Modern Corrections: By Gary F. Cornelius
The following is a review of the book, The American Jail, Cornerstone of Modern Corrections:
It is my belief that this book could serve as an excellent recourse for a manual in training new jail staff in understanding how jails in the United States serves an important role in the Criminal Justice System. It starts out with the History and Development of the American Jail and how the by understanding the history it shows the development of Jails in the United States.
The twelve chapters outline every important factor of the Jail System and how each works with the development of a well run jail.
Each chapter, from Jail Security to The Future of the America Jail has Points of View by either a person who lives and breathes it every day or an academic person who has researched the American Jail and how it functions within the United States. These additions add to the credibility of the information in each chapter. I also like how the publisher high- lighted each of the points of view to show the reader that tons of research was completed for each chapter and it is not just the author’s point of view.
Pictures throughout the book help a new correctional officer or a student in the criminal justice program understand what it is like inside an American Jail from the beginning to today. It shows how it has changed and why it is so important to make those changes.
Examples of forms and reports will help the correctional officer, either a new officer, rookie, or a seasoned officer could learn from the different forms from other agencies. One could compare how the form is used and why in their institution and how other forms and reports are put together from other jails. It also shows how important reports such as the incident report needs to have all the facts that happened and put in order of when,where,why,how and action taken. It also is important that the spelling and grammar are correct because this incident report could end up in a court of law.
Each chapter also has a summary which gives a brief overview of the chapters. Review questions at the end of each chapter will help the student and/or the participant in the training program. These could also be used by a professional trainer as a pre and post test for each module. Terms to know at the end of each chapter will help the correctional officer know the jail language and the operational terms.
In summation, I feel that The American Jail is an excellent reference manual that could be used in a training class to develop new Correctional officers assigned to work in a jail setting. It shows how the jail works, and how important it is to the community whereby keeping the public safe and inmates safely confined. I t also gives an overview of what is the future of the jail’s in the United States. I would recommend this book be used as a training manual for anyone entering law enforcement either as a police officer or one works within the jail environment.
THE AMERICAN JAIL
Cornerstone of Modern Corrections
By Gary F. Cornelius Prentice Hall. 504 pp.
What is the American jail? Who are its inhabitants? How does that world behind bars truly function? Thanks in large part to movies, prime time television and twenty-four hour news, it’s hard to go about daily life in the United States without broaching the subject of corrections. In “The American Jail: Cornerstone of Modern Corrections”, Gary F. Cornelius sets out to give his reader “whether he or she is a jail officer in training or a criminal justice student in college, a realistic view of the world of the local jail.” Drawing upon his twenty-seven years of working in jails, Cornelius constructs a textbook which provides an incredible wealth of information regarding the history, operations and future of the American jail. Because it is written from the perspective of a practitioner, the book provides a unique contribution to the criminal justice and corrections field.
The book is organized into twelve chapters, covering topics such as jail history, social climate, inmate classification, staff, and the future of the American jail. Each chapter begins with a set of learning objectives and then proceeds into the meat of the text. At the end of each chapter, the author presents a set of review questions and a list of important terms which themselves appear in bold in the text. Also included in each chapter is an essay aptly titled, “Point of View”. These essays are each written by an individual with experience in corrections and provide opinions and information that is relevant to the information presented in the chapter.
Cornelius intends for this book to serve as an informative source for both college students and correctional staff in training and in that end he succeeds. Its chapters are well-organized, with clearly laid out objectives, intelligent chapter sections and where appropriate, pictures, diagrams and even photocopies of documents used in jails. The overall visual presentation makes the information easy to digest and provides would-be instructors with information that is already tailored towards a syllabus. University students and professors may find the later chapters on jail standards, community corrections, and the future of the American jail to be most interesting and thought-provoking for class discussion. These focus on issues related to current criminal justice policy and the evolution of future advances in the field. Officers in training will likely get the most out of the middle chapters covering climate, programs and staff. Such sections also include examples of real-life incidents that add credence to the information presented.
While the book presents information valuable to both trainees and students, the book in its entirety may be too much for either party to consume. For example, students may be overwhelmed with the amount and specificity of procedural information, in particular one instance about the different types and purposes of keys. And trainees may not find many of the review questions particularly helpful. They will find greater value in parts of the text which cover procedure and purpose. Of course, the procedure outlined in the text is of course intended to serve as a supplement to training, not in place of it.
Because college students and correctional staff are vastly different in purpose and demographic, it would be impossible for any text to be perfectly suited for both at once. Students and trainees would benefit from the “Point of View” essays as they give students a glimpse into a world they may not ever come into contact with and provide insight from practitioners themselves. However, instructors should navigate the book and determine which sections best suit their learning interests and how they should be used. “The American Jail” is inspired in its depth, unique in its perspective, and used wisely, a formidable learning tool.
Christopher Dum is a Doctoral Student in the Criminal Justice program at the University at Albany.
About the Author:
Lt. Gary F. Cornelius served the field of corrections in the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office from 1978 until his retirement in 2005. He has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement and corrections. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, class of 1974, and is a former officer of the Uniformed Division of the US Secret Service. In his correctional career, Gary has worked in many areas of jail operations, and retired as the Classification Supervisor of the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. Lt. Cornelius also teaches punishment and corrections, community corrections, and jails at George Mason University, and has been an adjunct faculty member there since 1986. He has taught many seminars on various subjects in corrections. For 20 years he was a certified trainer for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. He serves as an adjunct instructor for four Virginia criminal justice training academies.
Gary is active as a trainer and consultant for the National Institute of Justice, the American Jail Association, the American Correctional Association, and the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). In 1997, he was elected to the IACTP Board and represented local corrections training. He is an author, and has written more than 40 articles on corrections, including a quarterly column,now a book, called The Twenty Minute Trainer, for the IACTP’s The Correctional Trainer, which is available from ACA and LRPPublications. He is on the Board of Advisors of The Corrections Professional from LRP Publications. He has written other books: Stressed Out: Living and Working with Stress in Corrections and Jails in America : An Overview of Issues, 2nd Edition, both of which are available from the American Correctional Association. He has served as a consultant on the National Institute of Justice report: Addressing Correctional Officer Stress: Programs and Strategies, an Issues and Practices Report. In 2001, Carolina Academic Press published Lt. Cornelius’ work, The Correctional Officer: A Practical Guide. Also in 2001, the American Correctional Association published Lt. Cornelius’ latest work, The Art of the Con: Avoiding Offender Manipulation, which received the 2002 APEX Award. The second edition of Stressed Out was published by ACA in August, 2005.
Gary received the IACTP Board of Directors Award of Excellence in Correctional Training in 1995. He was included in the 1992-93 edition of Who’s Who Among Human Service Professionals, and in 2001 was named to America ’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals. In 2004, Lt. Cornelius received the President’s Award from the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel for his writing and contributions to The Correctional Trainer. In April, 2005 the George Mason University Administration of Justice Program awarded Lt. Cornelius its Instructor Appreciation Award for 2004-2005. In May, 2005, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania presented him with a Distinguished Alumni Award in Social Science. He is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and resides in Williamsburg, Virginia.
CLASSES FOR CORRECTIONAL STAFF Instructed by Gary F. Cornelius
Offender Manipulation Prevention
Stress Management Seminar
Cultural Diversity Seminar
Reading the Institutional Climate: Avoiding Security Disruptions
Legal Rights of Inmates
Ethics and Professionalism in Corrections
Working with Difficult Employees
Documenting Critical Incidents in the Jail
Gary can be reached at 571-233-0912 (cell), 757-645-3441 or at ADJinstructor@aol.com.
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