New Jersey DOC Training Academy Evaluation of TACT Training

When the New Jersey Department of Corrections training academy learned about the experience of the Philadelphia Prison System with TACT training, they requested to sit-in on one of the trainings.  They sent two of their staff trainers to one of the TACT trainings and in their evaluation of the training recommended TACT be incorporated in the training of all new NJ DOC recruits.  The NJ training academy runs two residential classes simultaneously and one of the classes experienced the TACT training.  When the other class complained about not having the TACT training, the training academy decided to provide it to all classes.  The Defensive Tactics instructor had a poor pass rate for his students.  After the TACT training, he changed his approach and dramatically improved the pass rate of his students.

Not until a couple of years later did I find out that prior to the TACT training, the training academy was experiencing so much internal conflict there were plans on the books to transfer all staff, but the director and deputy director, and bring in all new staff.  After the TACT training, the situation improved so much that no-one was transferred.  One officer chose to transfer out because she did not like the new positive work culture.  I was told this by Captain Jim Lutz, the Deputy Director, who was attending the ceremony at which I received the “Award of Excellence for Commercial Programs” by the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel [IACTP]. At that meeting, the President of IACTP Terry Kingman stated in presenting the award, that TACT training should be part of every states prison system.  

Summary of Evaluation Results

What are your impressions of the program?

The course was excellent. The participants develop new competencies, and a different mind set. The course helps prepare one for challenges that will be faced inside the correctional system. In 3 days we covered many topics, discussed many ideas with the instructor and participants, participated in many exercises and took time to reflect on our capacities and potential for change. At the conclusion of the 3rd day, participants did not want the course to end. It was evident that the course was relevant and impacted on each individual in a special way.

What are the positive aspects of the training?

Mr. John Shuford was excellent. He made an excellent course into a phenomenal course by his style of teaching, setting the tone, setting the ground rules and expectations for participants. The instructional activities added another dimension. These exercises were excellent and tend to lead us to interact with one another differently and anticipate different outcomes that were quite positive. The activities directed individual participants to listen, share, discover, hope, motivate and challenge one another.

What are the negative aspects of the training?

There was nothing negative with this training. One limiting factor is that the class size is only a
maximum of 35.

Does this training lend itself to being adopted to the New Jersey State Basic Course?

The content materials are effective tools that can and should be applied to the State Basic Course. Although some overlapping with IPC, the Conflict Resolution curriculum will further provide professional competencies. These competencies [absolutely necessary and essential to our training of recruits] are needed to apply at one’s work site. This should be a mandatory requirement offered by the Academy.

Why would this training benefit our recruits?

Conflict Resolution will break existing barriers and behaviors. The course will help recruits
recognize the situational nature of Corrections and remedy situations that will support the
organizational culture. Participants will develop personal competencies, problem solving, effective
communications, encourage performance, etc. Diffusing a conflict would be cost saving, life saving,
and a better employee for the Department.

What is your recommendation regarding this training?

  • Suggest either a 3-day IPC followed by 2 day Conflict Resolution or 3-day Conflict
    resolution followed by 2-day IPC.
  • Suggest Conflict Resolution as a required stand-alone course.
  • Suggest further training for the instructors prior to implementing Conflict Resolution.
  • Suggest Conflict Resolution to be a part of the Sergeants training.

How difficult is it to train new instructors in this material?

The answer to the above question depends on the willingness of the Academy to provide training for the potential instructors and commitment on the part of the instructor. A great deal of the material and instructions are common sense. The instructor needs to be at least equipped with this basic ability, without it, the instructions and materials will be difficult in training a new instructor.