Avoiding Offender Manipulation: Inmate Subculture

Avoiding Offender Manipulation: Inmate Subculture
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-11-29
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Avoiding Offender Manipulation
Unit 2Transcript: Avoiding Offender Manipulation
Unit 3Workbook: Avoiding Offender Manipulation
Unit 4Recording: Avoiding Offender Manipulation

Working in the corrections setting means being a target for offender manipulation. Awareness and understanding, however, mitigate the chances of falling prey to these opportunistic individuals. This is the first installment of the two-part webinar series on Offender Manipulation to help those working in the corrections environments as well as those interacting with offenders in one way or another. Part one unpacks how to understand the offenders, their reason for manipulation, and resisting correctional supervision.

Leading the discussion are Kevin E. Courtright and Gary F. Cornelius. Kevin is a member of the Department of Criminal Justice at Pennsylvania West University at Edinboro where he teaches corrections courses at both the introductory and advanced levels. He previously served as a probation officer in New York state. Meanwhile, Gary is a trainer and consultant for the American Jail Association, the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel, and the National Institute of Justice, among others. He served for almost three decades in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center and is the author of several books including The Correctional Officer: A Practical Guide.

Specifics of this webinar covered:

  • The importance of being aware and understanding of the threat and prevalence of offender manipulation in the correction setting.
  • What manipulation is based on three elements that fundamentally define it.
    • To control or change the circumstances they’re in.
    • Utilizing artful and unfair means such as lying, deception, and acting so corrections staff lose objectivity and have staff attention diverted.
    • Working towards a desired end that basically boils down to accessing the outside.
  • Acknowledging that not all offenders are diabolical manipulators and the different circumstances that lead individuals into the correction facilities.
  • Learning about the offenders as the first step to navigating potential manipulation and preventing being targeted by manipulators.
  • A rundown of the common theories and schools of thought that may help explain criminality and offender behavior.
    • The classical school on which the criminal justice system is based upon that is focused on crime control and reform.
    • The positive school that emphasizes the psychological aspect of offending and the need for treatment and rehabilitation to address this.
    • The criminal personality theory that espouses distinct characteristics individuals are born with that lead them to criminal activities
    • The rational choice theory suggests that offenders make conscious choices to commit crimes.
    • The social bond theory that looks into the upbringing of children that contributes to their potential for criminality.
    • The social learning theory that supports the idea that offender and inmate behavior is learned.
    • The neutralization theory that illustrates how criminals can drift back and forth between criminal and non-criminal tendencies.
    • The psychological traits theory that offers that there are unique traits observed in offender population that account for the tendency to manipulate, be violent, and commit crimes.
    • The self-control theory that claims offenders lack self-control and patience and tend to be risk-takers and self-centered.
    • The criminal lifestyle theory that proposes that the individual’s social environment, choices made, and thinking patterns can determine the potential for criminality.
  • Understanding where prison behavior comes from and the different models that aim to explain this.
  • The options of inmates as to how they’ll conduct themselves in correctional supervision.
  • How inmates carefully select their targets and the common correction staff profile that are targeted.
  • The reasons why offenders manipulate and how they navigate this process.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • The type of offender that tends to be most manipulative.
  • Corrections staff that are more vulnerable to offender manipulation.
  • Tendency to be manipulated based on the sexes.



Other Webinars in This Series:


Click here to view and register for other upcoming Jails/Corrections webinars and recordings on the JCH Platform.



Resources and Handouts



Game Over!  Strategies for Redirecting Inmate Deception by Bill Elliott

Audience Comments

  • “Different scenarios on how probationers and parolees can manipulate us. Awesome class, can’t wait for part two.” — Debra
  • “This was an incredibly beneficial seminar and I had my staff member attend who is new to our unit as a probation officer writing PSR’s, I really like the resources that you provided and the information on justice theories.” — Cris
  • “Very well-versed on the topic. Excellent presentation style. Great slides!” — Julie
  • “All the topics were relevant and definitely struck a chord with a few staff members. I enjoyed this whole presentation.” — Keisha
  • “I appreciated the theoretical background information as to why offenders manipulate. I appreciated the information on what traits make people more susceptible to manipulation so that I can identify those traits in myself. I wish there were more time to answer questions at the end because I learned just as much from those answers as I did from the presentation.” — Lydia
  • “Excellent webinar. Good webinars on corrections are hard to find.” — Robert
  • “It was entertaining. I am a prosecutor, and occasionally I have to interact with pro se defendants who definitely try to manipulate me in various ways.” — Cristine
  • “The techniques inmates use was very useful. I think this webinar should be presented to all employees entering this line of work on Day 1. I started in the CJ field fresh out of college and this information would have been very appreciated. It’s also a nice refresher to remind us of tactics to look for.” — Kaleena
  • “Great information and presented very well.” — William
  • “This webinar was awesome. I like the way they added the criminology component to this demonstration. A lot of people don’t pay attention to that part!” — Shaquetta




The American Jail Association (AJA) is a national, nonprofit organization that supports the professionals who operate our Nation’s jails. It is the only national association that focuses exclusively on issues specific to the operations of local correctional facilities. The driving force behind the phenomenal growth of AJA is its members. AJA has taken a leadership role in developing the type of programs that promote the professional growth of the dedicated men and women who operate our Nation’s jails.  Jail staff have the responsibility for the management of people who have been charged with violating our laws and often mock the ideals on which AJA was founded. Jail personnel find themselves sorely tested each day in the jail environment when they receive scorn and derision for their loyalty and perseverance under extremely trying circumstances.  AJA takes this opportunity to salute the jail staff of the Nation who, by their dedication to the difficult task of local corrections, have made a vital, positive difference to the welfare of the communities they serve.  Click here to learn more about AJA. 




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