Philadelphia Prison System TACT Training; Independent Research Study
Staff were mandated to take the training, so many, if not most, had negative attitudes in the beginning, yet 97% evaluated it as excellent (70%) or very good (27%) at the end. There were numerous testimonials from reducing documented use of force by 96% in the intake unit to departments proactively working together for the first time (medical and security) to a problem anger prone employee becoming the “Employee of the Year.”
Deputy Commissioner Press Grooms commented that there was a positive culture change in the system, departments were working together better, there was a “softening of gaps” between disciplines and ranks and there was an improvement in communication skills. Also, over the period of TACT trainings, there was an overall reduction in use of force, however this could not be accounted for just by the TACT training as pepper spray had been introduced during this period. A feature article was published in Corrections Today [American Correctional Association] about the experience of the Philadelphia Prison System’s with TACT training.
Marsha L. Miller, Ph.D.
Evaluation, Research, and Planning Consultant
1400 Stoneleigh Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
One respondent wrote, “I liked the fact that strangers and people of different jobs and ranks could work together and show teamwork and accomplish different tasks.” Wrote another, “If we envision change, a positive change for a brighter tomorrow, we must communicate, listen, and try to reach a solution through teamwork, especially through the six points [for problem- solving].” Another wrote that the most liked aspects were, “The trust that was built up in the group, the hope that maybe this will better the environment in the PPS.”
Another respondent wrote, “I feel more valued by the system as an individual by being given the opportunity to participate for three entire days in a workshop that focused on the essential elements of working together as people. My personal as well as professional life has been enhanced. I enjoyed the fun interaction we had and feel this was a very effective way to learn the concepts of conflict resolution.”
Participants were also asked to suggest changes for improving the workshop. Overall, the responses showed that participants valued the training. Many respondents commented that no changes were needed or suggested extending the training sessions, or adding follow-up sessions. One respondent wrote, “1 wouldn’t change a thing.” Another wrote, “Make it an ongoing program and bring the length of it to five days.”
There were a variety of suggestions for improvement. A significant number of people requested that administrators also attend or that all ranks be combined within a workshop. Some suggested a change in the timing of breaks. Others requested more corrections-related material. Most of the suggestions, however, were highly individual.
One respondent commented, “This was the best class I have attended since becoming a CO.” Another commented, “This was ideal for bring staff together and helping to uplift morale.” Another wrote, “I believe that people as a whole just want to know that they are loved, that their opinions mean something, and that they count.”
A participant wrote, “The workshop was excellent. The information was well presented; the instructor was warm and knowledgeable of the subject matter. I would love this workshop to somehow be incorporated in the training process of the new recruits at the academy. The workshop really impressed and inspired me and now gives me a whole new way to solve problems.”
Another wrote, “It was very useful, very helpful as a method of stress management. Often the #1 complaint on the job is stress and it is my opinion that much of the stress is actually caused by conflict. By learning better ways to handle disagreements, stress will be reduced.”
Follow-up Questionnaire Results
In addition to the workshop evaluations and work environment questionnaires, workshop participants were surveyed several months later to assess whether they had been able to put in practice what they had learned in the workshop. Respondents were asked if they had been able to use the knowledge and skills gained in the workshop in dealing with inmates, coworkers, superiors, and family and friends.
247 follow-up questionnaires were received. The results are favorable, showing that respondents have been able to use the knowledge and skills gained from the workshop at work and at home.
More than eighty percent reported that they had been able use what they had learned from the workshop with family and friends as well as with coworkers. Close to seventy percent reported that they had been able to use what they had learned with inmates and superiors.
Figures Seven through Ten show the results.