What Happened? Exploring Case Studies of Manipulation in Corrections

What Happened? Exploring Case Studies of Manipulation in Corrections
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-11-28
Unit 1Presentation Materials: What Happened? Exploring Case Studies of Manipulation in Corrections
Unit 2Transcript: What Happened? Exploring Case Studies of Manipulation in Corrections
Unit 3Workbook: What Happened? Exploring Case Studies of Manipulation in Corrections
Unit 4Recording: What Happened? Exploring Case Studies of Manipulation in Corrections

Kevin Courtright and Gary Cornelius lead this session’s discussion to delve into the risk of manipulation faced by those in contact with inmates. From petty contraband trafficking to sexual misconduct, and even escapes, offenders manipulate corrections staff to get what they want and need.

Gary has a prolific jail career having served for 27 years in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center where he retired in 2005. He is the author of “The Correctional Officer: A Practical Guide”. Meanwhile, Kevin teaches several corrections courses at both the introductory and advanced levels and is a member of the Department of Criminal Justice at Pennsylvania West University at Edinboro.

Specifics covered during their discussion include:

  • A brief background on Kevin and Gary’s career history that provided them with insights into how inmates manipulate correction facility staff.
  • The need for training on manipulation in corrections as it affects all areas of corrections.
  • How awareness and understanding of the components of manipulation is the first step to prevent it.
  • The rationale behind taking a case study approach to manipulation in corrections.
  • Case studies were presented to demonstrate…
    • How both sworn and non-sworn are vulnerable to manipulation
    • How manipulation can occur in both adult and juvenile populations.
    • The range of offenses inmates commit – from petty violations to organized crimes within the facility.
    • The extent to which corrections staff can be manipulated by inmates.
    • The profile of staff that tend to be vulnerable to manipulation and that offenders target.
    • How gangs are able to circumvent corrections security and policies.
  • A deep dive into the Dannemora Escape case.
    • The inmates and manipulated staff that were involved.
    • The intricate operations inmates did to escape that correction employees are aware of.
    • The series of events that allowed the inmates to escape, and the manhunt done to recapture the inmates.
    • The findings of the NY Inspector General Report which highlighted errors, complacency, and carelessness of the staff and supervisors and how these led to the incident.
    • How existing protocols and policies somewhat allowed the incident to happen.
  • Examining the Elmira Escape case details.
    • The similarity between this 2003 incident to the 2015 Dannemora case.
    • The profile of the inmates that allowed them to circumvent the facility’s security to obtain materials and tools required for the escape plan.
    • Creative ways that the inmates were able to conceal their preparations for escape.
    • How the actual escape transpired and how they were recaptured just a day later.
  • Common themes in the case studies presented that emphasize how complacency, failure to communicate across ranks and supervise, inability to learn from past incidents and apply lessons into policy and practice, and deviation from written policy created conditions where manipulators thrive in.

Points raised during the Q&A are about:

  • Applying universal precautions when dealing with inmates.
  • Trends of staff being compromised due to manipulation.
  • Teaching boundaries to staff who believe they cannot be manipulated by juvenile offenders.
  • The impact of technology on manipulation in prisons.
  • How mental fatigue puts staff at risk of manipulation.

Other Webinars with these Presenters:


Click here to register and view other Jail/Corrections-related webinars and recordings on the JCH website.


Resources and Handouts


Special Offer for JCH Audiences: Get $36 off the hardcover edition of Gary Cornelius’ book, The High-Performance Correctional Facility (Promotion code: JCH).

Click on the QR code or visit: https://www.civicresearchinstitute.com/hpcf.html


Audience Comments

  • “It was interesting to hear about the different cases of manipulation. I think it would be beneficial to break it down by the type of employee, e.g., correctional officers, probation officers, and law enforcement officers (deputies and police officers), when having more sessions related to this topic. I think this will help people be more aware of how it can happen in their particular sector of working with defendants/offenders.”
  • “I appreciate the information that was provided relating to current cases and the examples gleaned from each case. Also, the surveys were very helpful. They provided a great snapshot of what the majority of us working in this community identify as problematic. I really enjoyed the training and look forward to part two. Great Job and Well done!!”
  • “I learned how insipid this problem of inmate manipulation is. I did not know that the problem was as bad. I don’t think that we are prepping and training new staff adequately to stand up to inmate manipulation.”
  • “Great topic and overlooked during the FTO process. The attitude of “it has not happened to me.”
  • “Great presentation! Very relevant and helpful information. Looking forward to part 2.”
  • “More on indicators that intelligence professionals could use to help catch possible recruitment by inmates.”
  • “The information that was shared was phenomenal. We can use this information to help with making the trainings relatable to the staff.”




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. 



Additional Resources
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