Regardless of what type of work someone ends up doing in the corrections industry, they will likely find themselves interviewing or talking with justice-involved individuals at some point and writing some type of report(s) (Arcaya, 1974; Nash, 2011; Williams, Dixen, Calhoun, & Moss, 1982). Effective oral and written communication skills are helpful for any corrections practitioner, but absolutely imperative for individuals interested in working in community corrections (Bracken, 2003). Every interaction with justice-involved individuals counts (from the intake process in a jail, cafeteria in a prison, or downtime on a cell block, to an office or home contact with a probationer or parolee) and presents an opportunity not only to monitor and enforce rules, regulations, and conditions, but also to challenge individuals’ decisions and help motivate and move individuals further along their change journey (Armstrong, 2012; Hartzler & Espinosa, 2011).
William Cash, EBP Implementation Specialist, Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice
William describes the role of the Change Agent.
Colleges and universities should include instruction on effective correctional interviewing and communication techniques and help students learn to write a report that would typically be used in a corrections setting versus a research-oriented paper.
In general, community corrections leaders are interested in entry-level workers who understand the importance of the collaborative relationship between community corrections officers and individuals on community supervision to achieve reductions in recidivism. They want them to recognize the influential role they have on the lives of justice-involved individuals, how to respect that influence, and how to leverage it wisely and effectively so they do no harm to those they are interacting with.
Reports to the court, paroling authorities, and more have a major effect on a justice-involved individuals' circumstances and life (Tata, 2010; Tata, Halliday, Hutton, & McNeill, 2008). Oral or written reports that are not well constructed and do not have adequate and complete information can lead to ineffective decisions about next steps for the individual. Therefore, it is important for professional in corrections, including community corrections, to be able to know where to find, how to gather, how to analyze/synthesize, and how to present information (orally or in writing) in an effective and concise manner.