Warden Carlin: 11 things we should all believe

Warden Carlin at podium
ICIO Warden Terema Carlin, Photo courtesy POST Academy

Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino Warden Terema Carlin delivered the commencement address at the graduation ceremony for Correctional Academy 42 at the Peace Officers Standards Training facility in Meridian on Jan. 31. Here is a transcript of Warden Carlin's remarks.

Good morning. I would first like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony for POST graduating class #42. I am honored.

When I began with this department 16 years ago, I attended a local academy that was facilitated at ICIO by staff at ICIO. Since that time I have watched the Idaho Department of Correction develop into a more professional department with one of those first large steps being the opportunity for new staff to attend training at POST academy and facilitated by staff from all areas of the department.

For those of you from out of the Boise area, this means four weeks away from family, friends, and home. I thank you for this dedication. For all of you, this was four weeks of information, information, information and then a little more PowerPoint. Trust us when we say that you will never remember it all, but it will give you an excellent foundation to work from.

I commend you all for completing the academy and taking on the challenge of a new career in corrections. I also want to thank the instructors for all of their hard work and the training specialists for their dedication in putting an academy together. Thank you to the POST staff and administrators for allowing us to use the facility.

For some of you this day has come none too soon. For some of you the biggest challenge may still lay ahead. A career in corrections comes with challenges, training and opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. I would like to welcome you to your new career whether that be a stepping stone to another employer or whether this is where you plan to retire from.

Upon joining the ranks of correctional staff you have now committed to fulfilling the mission: To promote a safer Idaho by reducing recidivism. While attending the academy, you have had the opportunity to learn security practices such as searches and counts. You have learned communication skills, behavioral techniques and alertness tools such as con games.

While gaining experience working in the correctional facilities and using the techniques you were taught in the classroom, you can complete this challenge. For you this means making sure that the offenders are following rules and policies. If they fail to do so, then you can use the communication skills that you have been taught to speak to them.

In doing so you may have been one of the first people to make a positive difference in their life. You may have the opportunity to be a positive role model and show them why it is important to act appropriately. If they are inclined to not adapt with appropriate behavior then sanctions may be in order. You, as officers, are the foundation of corrections. Without you we could not have safety first.

I have had the opportunity to view corrections from a variety of seats. The first as a correctional officer. I understand the job that lies ahead for you. Your first year will be filled with excitement, disappointment, and even frustration. This is when you will need to depend on those people that you have learned from and developed professional relationships with to learn how to get through those difficult times.

Secondly, I have been a case manager both for the rider program at NICI (North Idaho Correctional Institution) and on A-block at ICIO, with protective custody and close custody offenders. I recognize the rewards that providing opportunity for offender change can have on a person.  I also know the frustration and disappointment that can occur when you have put your all into assisting an offender and they are not thankful or appreciative.

Third, I have observed corrections from a supervisor-level as a sergeant, program manager, deputy warden, and now as a warden. The opportunity for you can be amazing. You must have a desire to meet the challenges that are present and be more proud of your staff when they succeed than of any progress you make.

A good friend and colleague once told me the best advice: As a leader you must be a champion for your people. Sometimes being that champion means making a difficult decision that is not well liked. Leadership according to Colin Powell is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible. This is so true as we face those challenges ahead.

As I was preparing for this speech, I ran across the presentation that I put together for the first guest speaker presentation I did as a new warden. I had been placed in Orofino in December 2008 and in January of 2009 it was announced that IDOC was considering privatizing the Orofino facility. My presentation was written in February 2009 and talked about facing the uncertainty that the announcement had created within our agency.

I find it ironic that today, five years later I am speaking to a group that has just completed POST during an even more historic time in IDOC history.  By July 1, 2014, IDOC will have assumed operation of ICC (Idaho Correctional Center).  I am excited and in awe of the opportunities for our staff and agency. In the words of (IDOC Division of Prisons) Chief (Jeff) Zmuda  "For all of us, it is a time to demonstrate to the entire nation the quality and caliber of Idaho's correctional professionals."

With that information I would like to take this opportunity to give you one more challenge. Ask yourself what kind of person do you want to be? What kind of character do you want to reflect? In other words what distinguishing feature or attribute do you wish to be best known for?

People with character stand for something. That may be a value, an ideal, a cause, a mission.  Moreover, people with character don't just talk about things. They exhibit a pattern of behavior that demonstrates what they stand for. Colin Powell noted that people with character "figure out what is crucial and then they stay focused on it without allowing side issues to distract them." 

As a department we value our staff and we value a safe and professional environment that promotes dignity and respect for staff, the public and offenders.

Throughout your day I would suggest a few points to ponder, because corrections is not always the most positive environment and it is imperative that you take care of yourselves:

  1. I believe I am a work in progress and there will always be a gap between who I am and who I want to be.
  2. I believe every day brings opportunities to learn and do something meaningful.
  3. I believe the true test of my character is whether I do the right thing even when it might cost more than I want to pay.
  4. I believe no matter how I behave some people will be mean spirited, dishonest, irresponsible, and unkind, but if I fight fire with fire, I'll end up with are the ashes of my own integrity.
  5. I believe life is full of joys and sorrows, and my happiness will depend on how well I handle each.
  6. I believe pain is inevitable but suffering is optional, and if I can control my attitudes I can control my life.
  7. I believe that kindness matters and snide comments and badly timed criticisms can cause lasting hurt.
  8. I believe there's joy in gratitude and freedom in forgiveness, but both require conscientious effort.
  9. I believe what is fun or pleasurable is not always good for me and what is good for me is not always fun or pleasurable.
  10. I believe no one is happy all the time, but in the end I can be as happy as I am willing to be.
  11. I believe the surest road to happiness is a good relationship.

With that being said, I just want to encourage all of you to be steadfast in your mission and work diligently at meeting the goals set forth by yourselves, your supervisors, and our leaders.

I know that you are all anxious to get on with your graduation and I would again like to thank you all for this opportunity to celebrate with you.

Congratulations to all the graduates.  I wish you all the best.

Story published: 03/11/2014

Class 42 president's address - continued  

Abraham Lincoln said "Let's have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it." After these past four weeks, my classmates and understand this concept and we will do our duty as correctional officers.

Alas, we come to justice. Strangely it is justice where all roads lead in the realm of law enforcement. It seems a simple word and many would think it would be easy to enforce in a prison. We learned that is it is not so simple. My fellow officers and I have learned that a correctional officer operates in what is called the grey at times, because black and white are not the only answers. We discovered the appliance of the spirit of the law.

Here I will refer to another quote from Abraham Lincoln. He said "I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice." We know our offenders are in prison as punishment, not for punishment. We also know that our application of justice plays a vital role in the success of our department's mission of a safer Idaho. That by treating our offenders in a fair, firm, and consistent manner we guarantee that success.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you again for attending our graduation. I would like to especially thank our instructors for everything.

To my classmates, thank you. You are all good people and I know you will be good officers. The time we spent in the classroom, picking our poison, studying, throwing each other around, cuffing, laughing, crying, having our eyes set on fire, and scenario dying together will not be forgotten.

Remember, keep up with the training because when the time comes and things get rough, just do the right thing and that training will take over do the rest.

Veritas, Officium, Aequitas.


Class 42 president: Dignity vital to success

On January 31, North Idaho Correctional Institution Officer Lawrence Jefferson II gave the class president's address at Correctional Academy 42's graduation ceremony at the Peace Officers Standards Training facility in Meridian. He described how treating offenders with dignity helps further the mission of the Idaho Department of Correction. Here is a transcript of his remarks.

Ladies and gentleman, distinguished guests, and fellow officers, thank you for attending our graduation. I am honored to be standing here today representing my fellow officer classmates. It is also a pleasure to be able to talk to you about what has transpired during our stay here at POST these past four weeks.

Our class motto is Veritas, Officium, Aequitas which is Latin for Truth, Duty and Justice.  So, our journey started with truth.

Our first truth was learning about each other and where we came from. We come from all walks of life with very interesting backgrounds: loss prevention, military, retired military, a chiropractor, merchant marine, emergency services, a paralegal, semi-pro athletes, people who have traveled to Third World countries, prior law enforcement, college students and even a classmate who puts on bull riding rodeos.
Our next truth was learning about corrections -- what it meant to be a corrections officer and what the Idaho Department of Corrections expected of us. We learned and now know that being a corrections officer for Idaho is simple -- doing the right thing through open communication, trust, honesty, integrity, and teamwork.

Mahatma Gandhi once said "Truth never damages a cause that is just." Our cause is very just -- to promote a safer Idaho by reducing recidivism.
Another horrid truth we learned was that pepper spray and a bright sunny day is a terrible mix.

Now we venture into duty. We discovered that duty meant integrity of the process. Our process as newly molded officers is carrying out the mission, vision, and values of the Idaho Department of Correction with dignity and respect.

We learned that it is our duty to always strive to be better officers because when we project this attitude, others will want to be better also, including the offenders under our care. To us, this means to stay proficient with our tactics, keep our bodies strong, our minds sharp, our faith secure, and our hearts happy with family and friends.

Class 42 president's address continues above and to the right

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