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Inmates in correctional facilities suffering from psychiatric or substance abuse disorders sometimes display any one of a number of frightening behaviors: verbal outbursts, physical threats and even violence. Correctional officers must deal with such individuals on a frequent basis. In this comprehensive guidebook, Ellis Amdur, Sergeant Michael Blake and Chris De Villeneuve offer correctional officers in jail settings a comprehensive set of strategies to keep themselves and as well as inmates as safe as possible, while functioning at the highest level of professionalism.

The first two sections of the book discuss the “system,” the environment within the jail and the surrounding community (mental health facilities, parole/probation, the court, the hospital) that chronically mentally ill individuals cycle within. The third section is concerned with threat assessment: rather than a mere list of risk factors, the authors offer concrete skills on the development of a safety mindset, and further, techniques to develop and hone intuition, that early warning system that warns of danger before your conscious mind is even aware there is something wrong. In the fourth section of the book, the authors focus on us: what we can do to achieve a state of integrity and powerful calm. Rather than abstract pronouncements, they offer specific strategies, including a method of breathing for the purpose of maintaining one’s center in crisis situations. 

They then move on to the heart of the book, discussing specific behaviors ranging from confusion and obsessive concerns to psychosis, mania and acute disorganization. In one very important section, they discuss interactions with opportunistic and manipulative individuals (at worst, those referred to as psychopaths), people who present a danger to the psychological and physical well-being of anyone with whom they come in contact. 

They then move on to a discussion of aggression, whether directed at the correctional officer or others. There is a specific section set aside on dealing with aggressive youthful offenders. The authors discuss how to de-escalate aggressive and chaotic inmates once a crisis is in play. The authors elucidate the various motivations that drive aggression and further delineate the different types of aggression that result. De-escalation tactics are specific – one learns how to immediately recognize what mode of aggression other person is displaying, and the, one can quickly and effectively implement the de-escalation tactics that are best suited to deal with it. Finally, in a very important appendix written by Lieutenant Michael Paulus, there is a state-of- the-art comprehensive protocol to prepare jail staff and management to deal with excited delirium cases.

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