CMIT Trains Native American Correctional Managers

The latest class of the National Jail Leadership Command Academy hosted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Correctional Management Institute of Texas recently hosted the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal correctional managers from 10 states for a national training on jail leadership and succession planning.

The National Jail Leadership Command Academy, delivered in collaberation with the American Jail Association, is designed for mid-level correctional managers to develop leadership skills for top administrative positions in the future. The program is taught by national experts in their field both in the profession and in academia.

"It helped put together a lot of information," said Frank R. Hecht, American Jail Association President and Jail Administrator for Tohono O’odham Nation Corrections, one of the main instructors for the program. "It gives them the knowledge and skills in the leadership, management and overall understanding of the organization. It provides a sense of commonality. It also reenergizes them and recommits them to their community."

Corrections in Indian Country include the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, contracted facilities and those operated by different tribes. Participants came from Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Washington.

"Despite all the challenges we face, we all have good hearts to make a difference in the nations’ programs and community," said James Begay of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. "We care for the community."

During the weeklong program, participants learned about key issues from leaders in the field. They included:

  • Self Awareness for Leaders (MBTI®)
  • Essential Leadership Tools
  • Dealing with Criticism and Crucial Conversations
  • A Jail Manager’s Guide to the Uses and Abuses of Statistics
  • The Jail and the Big Picture in the Justice System
  • Collaboration for Jail Leaders
  • Managing the Multi-generational Workforce
  • Recruitment and Retention
  • Ethics for Jail Leaders
  • Performance Management
  • Managing the Problem Employees
  • Internal Agency Culture
  • Mission, Vision, Values and Strategic Planning
  • The Jail’s Budget
  • Leadership Development and Succession Planning
  • Power and Influence
  • Leading Change

Delores Greyeyes of the Navajo Nation said it made the process of strategic planning much easier.

"I have all the tools and resources now," Greyeyes said. "It will help me with overall management, through self-development and actualization applications for working with personnel and facilities."

It also helped motivate correctional leaders to make changes at their facilities.

"The training made me look at myself and how I do things," said David Charles of the Navajo Nation. "We want a legacy of leadership. But there are things you can’t change, you can only change yourself."

One of the key issues to tackle is communication.

"I looked at myself and I thought I was sharing information," said Sherry Begay of the Navajo Nation. "There are a lot of good things I thought I was doing that I was not doing."

Sgt. Bennett Chewing from the Tohono O’odham Nation Department of Public Safety proudly displayed the badge his corrections officers wear, which reflects the life of the Tohono O’odham Nation with the mountains, cactus, fruits and deserts of his community. The badge bears 11 stars representing the 11 districts of his area. At the top is the creator, and below him is a maze.

“It is the man of the maze,” Chewing explained. “You can go to the end or turn around, but everything leads back to the creator.”

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