Corrections and COVID-19: Maintaining Mental Wellness of Staff and Inmates During Custodial Pandemonium

Corrections and COVID-19: Maintaining Mental Wellness of Staff and Inmates During Custodial Pandemonium
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2020-04-03
Unit 1Handout: Corrections and COVID-19
Unit 2Workbook: Maintaining Mental Wellness of Staff and Inmates during Custodial Pandemonium
Unit 3Recording: Corrections and COVID-19

Strange times we’re in right now and it’s affected our consciousness on a whole new level. There is a threat – we cannot see it, but we know it’s there – which heightens people’s anxiety levels more than the usual. This is even more aggravated when the nature of your job is stressful to begin with – which rings true for those working in jails and prisons.

This session features a panel of four instructors who will be unpacking the implications of COVID-19 in the corrections setting. Dr. Robin Timme is a leader in correctional behavior therapy and is the Eastern Region Vice President and a Senior Expert for Falcon Correctional and Community Services, Inc. Jennifer Horney worked extensively on measuring the health impacts of disasters and planning for these, she is a Professor and the Founding Director of the Program in Epidemiology and Core Faculty at the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. Scott Semple has the first-hand experience in the frontlines of corrections and is currently the Appointed Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Correction. And finally, Elias Diggins has a prolific background in law enforcement operations and is currently the Appointed Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Correction.

Specifics discussed in this session include:

  • Epidemiology of COVID-19 primer that dives into:
    • The epidemic curve and what must be implemented to flatten it.
    • The reproductive rate, which looks how one sick person can infect others.
    • The modes of contact in which the virus is transmitted from one person to another.
    • Person-to-person and fomite transmission of the virus and how to control transmission.
    • Testing: Its importance, a look into different approaches in testing, and how it can protect our population by isolating the cases.
    • The challenge when dealing with COVID-19 due to the absence of pharmaceutical intervention and the practices and protocols we must implement in its place.
    • Comparison of two state’s approach in their response to COVID-19 that demonstrated the effect of social distancing.
    • What the future holds: When COVID-19 will peak, utilizing science-based information in response, and the importance of documenting action reports and plans.
  • COVID-19’s mental health implications.
    • Collective trauma: How COVID-19 is a threat to all of us and how it impacts our psyche.
    • The importance of looking at the epidemiology and the medical response to better understand the threat.
    • How anxiety and fear impact or lives when the hyperarousal is prolonged.
    • Symptoms that we may manifest related to the sustained hyperarousal response, and the exacerbating element of the corrections setting.
    • The additional stress that we experience due to uncertainty and limited interpersonal connectedness and what individuals and organizations can do to address these.
    • Strategies that organizations may implement and we may individually practice to build resilience and lessen anxiety amidst the pandemic.
  • Leadership during a pandemic.
    • The stress that the workforce is subjected to at the moment.
    • Denver Sheriff Department’s approach to controlling the potential spread of COVID-19 within their jails.
    • Practical tips that leaders and staff can employ in the corrections setting driven by courage, commitment, concern, and care.
    • Understanding the things we can and cannot control to lessen the mental load we need to process amidst the pandemic.
    • Resources to use to be better equipped leading and working in jails and prisons at this time.

Topics that the panelists addressed in the Q&A were about:

  • Best practices for screening staff coming in and out of the facility.
  • Factors to consider when looking at releasing inmates at risk amidst the pandemic.
  • Protocols when it comes to the use of limited PPEs.
  • Handling incoming mail and other potential fomites.
  • How to best utilize and interpret models predicting the peak of the pandemic.
  • Dealing with worried-working and low level of panic in the workforce.


This is part of a 2-Part Series on Corrections and Covid-19:



Audience Comments

  • “The presenters allowed for all of us to not be sure of what will happen but provided a snapshot of what the situation is at the moment.” — Toni
  • “I learned even more strategies today, coping mechanism. I really enjoyed the interactive breathing! Applause and standing ovation-indeed, one of my top 10.” — Nancy
  • “Each topic was very interesting and rewarding. Understanding more in regards to our anxiety stressors and our mental health stressors will be beneficial to me.” — Willie
  • “I liked the validation about the anxiety and stress. It’s very good to be aware of the incarcerated population’s stress and strategies to keep them calm as well.” — Michelle
  • “Very interesting.  I liked how three different professionals addressed the topic from their expertise.” — Stephanie
  • “I appreciated the information provided. Even though I do not work in a correctional facility, this webinar provided a guideline in other agencies in how to deal with self-care, being observant to those around you and to also utilize strategies in monitoring my anxiety through this stressful and unprecedented time.” — Shannon
  • “The most valuable thing I learned about this webinar is being informed and knowledgeable on COVID 19 can reduce uncertainty in working in corrections. I loved the breathing exercise and I plan to use it on self and with inmates to reduce stress and anxiety. Thanks again for a very informative webinar.” — Lisa
  • “This webinar was extremely helpful and shed a great deal of insight on specific topics that NEED to be talked about during any crisis, within the CRJ system. THANK YOU!” — Jayne




Falcon Inc. brings together the most distinguished, credentialed leaders in the field. With dozens of specialized correctional mental health experts and hundreds of years of collective experience, Falcon Inc. exists to ensure your programs are successful and effectively address the unique challenges of your mental health populations. Grounded on proven methodology and driven by some of the best and brightest minds in the industry, we provide expertise to government and community leaders for the advancement of stronger, safer, and more innovative programs that produce real, sustainable results.


Additional Resources
4 years ago
After the Webinar: Maintaining Mental Wellness of Staff and Inmates during Custodial Pandemonium. Q&A with the Presenters
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4 years ago
Thoughts on Taking Action from Dr. Robin Timme
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Trauma Informed Jails: An Interview with Dr. Robin Timme
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