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Q&A: Administrative Differences

As the only challenging candidate who has served under both the current Administration as well as the previous, I have a unique perspective to be able to compare what has worked, what hasn’t and how my approach would differ.

Six years ago, employees like me were excited about a Cahillane Administration. There was significant discussion about the fact that Mr. Cahillane had at one point been an employee, had been a line staff member, and had worked his way up through the ranks so he understood what it was like to be in the shoes of lower level employees and how hard they all worked and wanted to advance. When Mr. Cahillane was Deputy at the facility, and in charge of the day-to-day operations, there was discussion that because of this he was well versed in the daily challenges facing the incarcerated population as well as the staff so he would be well positioned to address issues that had been creeping into the facility slowly, but steadily. There were concerns about staffing, particularly retirements and recruitment, upper level administrative accountability, modernization concerns, lateral and upward mobility opportunities for the staff as well as accountability measures for the incarcerated population.

What we all quickly learned after the last election was that these issues would largely not be addressed and that there would be additional concerns added because what Sheriff Garvey had in spades was the ability to make each person he spoke with feel heard and remembered; Sheriff Cahillane lacks this ability. Sheriff Garvey was frequently seen in the blocks speaking regularly not only with staff, but with the incarcerated population; he frequently had dinner in the chow hall with everyone. We all felt like people, but just employees or inmates. He inquired about our lives and how things were going at work. This does not happen in the Cahillane Administration.

I was not in the Executive Administration of either Sheriff Garvey or Sheriff Cahillane, nor was I in a supervisory role, so I speak to differences in approach largely as they pertain to staff and overall facility direction. Under the Cahillane Administration the Sheriff took a more hands-off approach to the daily operations, staff and incarcerated individuals. I did not see Sheriff Cahillane frequently walk the hallways on the secure side just to check in on staff and operations. I did not see Sheriff Cahillane eat in the chow halls with staff or incarcerated individuals, or show up on weekends to see how the facility managed or come in on holidays to thank his staff for working and sacrificing time with their families in service to their jobs.

Issues of concern to the staff such as technology updates, staffing and accountability measures, which staff had been asking for during the Garvey Administration, and which staff were hopeful would be recognized and addressed in the new Cahillane Administration did not materialize.

The technology updates all staff were hoping for, and had asked for, regarding the replacement of the typewriters and installing Wifi in the facility didn’t happen. This hampered workflow and efficiency. The staff were hoping that a younger Administrator would understand the need for more modern technology, unfortunately WiFi is incredibly limited and the typewriters remain, as do the issues with workflow this creates. Staff, across departments and across supervisory levels, had been asking for some time for more staff to carry out the duties, but particularly after the 2018 passage of the Criminal Justice Reform Act which instituted changes to corrections that significantly impacted correctional security and medical/mental health staff most acutely. Staffing changed very little if at all, while legal requirements still needed to be met which further exhausted staff. The policy of the Cahillane Administration was to not backfill positions when retirements occurred, which created staffing issues that bloated the facility's overtime budget and exhausted staff, leading to further issues with morale.

The most glaring issue is one of recognition. The staff speak of institutional concerns with their supervisors. The staff addresses these issues with the Executive Administration when possible and it appears to fall on deaf ears. The continued and accelerated staff departures should be speaking loudly to the Executive Administration, but don’t appear to. Morale is notably lower in the Cahillane Administration than the Garvey Administration. Lack of accountability, equally applied to everyone across all levels of supervision and employment, has grown under the Cahillane Administration. The divide in treatment based on who you know or personal relationships grows wider daily and is made more so by the introduction of, or promotion of, outside employees ill-equipped for their new roles in upper level correctional Administration.

The incarcerated population are not getting the best of the staff or facility. Day-to-day, career staff who are demoralized, intimidated and exhausted have a hard time giving their absolute best every day in a difficult environment. The day-to -day staff are professionals who want to be contributing, helping and being of service to the population and community they care for, but who also find it increasingly difficult to do it in an Administration more out of touch, because of lack of contact, acknowledgement and innovation, with day to day operations and population needs. The facility would benefit from change. The facility would benefit from someone who sees the deficiencies in the facility, operations and Administration and who is proactive in improving those. With my background and experience, I hope to be that change.

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