The Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT), in collaboration with the American Jail Association, recently trained mid-level jail managers from 16 states across the country to take on leadership roles in their institutions.
Representatives from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming attended the weeklong conference at the George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center in Huntsville, Texas. The academy was sponsored by CMIT, the American Jail Association, and the National Associations of Counties.
"Leadership is so much about skills that are often not learned in the workplace," said Capt. Heather Lough of Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention in Albuquerque, N.M. "People in some departments don’t necessarily know how to pass it on. Supervision and leadership are two completely different approaches. The skills taught here at the academy are essential skills and knowledge for leaders to have. It challenges them and their departments to create better environments to for their staff and to nurture the leaders to come."
During the Academy, managers learned about best practices, hiring and retention, accountability, effective leadership, big picture thinking, organizational community, applied ethical leadership, collaborative partnerships, finance and budget, essential leadership skills/tools and how to deal with organizational and environmental change.
"I think many of the things we learned are the same for small jails or for large ones," said Major Arthur Byrne of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama. "We are not alone. Everyone has the same problems across the board. There were a lot of plans presented here and I want to go back and look through my workbook on what ideas can benefit the organization and what I can work off of as a jail administrator. They have given me some great ideas."
"The level of instructors and their experience really added a lot to the credibility," Byrne added. "They have been there and done that."
During the academy, jail administrators were encouraged to bring real life issues to the session. Together, the group worked on solutions.
"It creates a network that we can take away from here for future problems," said Timothy E. Trent, Assistant Administrator for the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority. "They can advise you on different ways to solve it. It gives you ideas in everything from personnel to operations. It’s very valuable."
Among the main presenters at the conference were Susan McCampbell, President of the Center of Innovative Public Policy, a not-for-profit corporation specializing in criminal justice, law enforcement, public education and public health issues, and Dr. Randy Garner of Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice.