- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The holidays are an increasingly dangerous time for the nation’s prison system, a judicial expert said, warning that workers must be vigilant against increased threats.

“In today’s world, criminal justice personnel not only have the dangers and challenges that are normally associated with the holidays, they now have to factor in the possibility of terrorist activities directed at them and their facilities,” wrote William Sturgeon in a report on possible threats facing prisons.

The article, originally published on the criminal justice website “Corrections,” and released by the Justice Department’s National Institute of Corrections, noted that prison populations will often become “antsy, angry, sad and remorseful” around this time of year.

“For some people, the holiday season is very difficult emotionally,” Mr. Sturgeon wrote. “This emotional turbulence affects not only offenders, but staff also. Too often we forget that staff are as vulnerable as offenders to the trials and tribulations of life.”

There are a number of security concerns prisons need to be worried about, the report said, including an increase in visitors to the prisons, an influx of packages for inmates, and staff members who may have been drinking at holiday parties.

Also, Mr. Sturgeon noted there is often an increase in escape attempts around the holiday season. One inmate who was caught trying to escape on Christmas morning reportedly expressed a desire to “have just spent Christmas dinner with my kids.”

Mr. Sturgeon said that despite all the activities of the holiday season, it’s critical that corrections staff be well rested to deal with the challenges that could arise.

“Balancing life is especially difficult during the holiday season, but it is crucial that you try,” he said. “Be prepared for the unexpected.”

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