Cultural Competence in Corrections

After reading the article “Trauma of the incarceration Experience” (DeVeaux, M., 2013). I felt compelled to look further into the importance of understanding the value of cultural competence in corrections. In today’s world where we see blue lines versus black lives corrections seems to be just on the edge. I feel that it is important to be proactive in understanding where law enforcement seems to be veering. It seems that the root of DeVeaux’s trauma stems from a lack of competence which is probably the case for most situations.

Not only would cultural competence improve the likelihood of traumatic experience but it would also help in maintaining control of an institutionalized setting. According to the national center for cultural competence there needs to be at least five elements in place to understand this concept. They are:

  1. Valuing diversity (shapes earnestness and respect)
  2. Having the capacity for cultural self-assessment (reveals being open-minded and flexibility)
  3. Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact (situational awareness)
  4. Having institutionalized culture knowledge (fosters experience, builds bridges)
  5. Having developed adaptations to service delivery reflecting an understanding of cultural diversity (reduces challenges, obstacles and barriers of communications)

I find that these elements all make sense. In order to truly grasp a concept you must genuinely understand the importance of it. So to understand and value the idea of diversity and embrace it a person is more likely to follow through. It also makes sense to have an understanding of our selves, to know that what we do does not define the norm for others. Everyone is different and brings different things to the table. Knowing what we do and do not bring is essential in being able to truly understand our own culture and to understand what we should learn about others. These two concepts spoke to me the most as the other three concepts are practices that corrections officers should engage in anyway.

Overall I feel it would be easy to fall into the deeply rooted belief system of authority is key in the jail. However it is not the true answer. I have seen for myself the difference between flexing unnecessary muscles and being genuine. If other guards including myself were to work on and further explore the importance of cultural awareness and competence we may see better outcomes across the board which would make institutionalization an easier system.


DeVeaux, M. (2013). The Trauma of the Incarceration Experience. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 48. 2013

ToersBijns, C. (2014, December 8). Cultural Competence. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from


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