OLR Research Report


March 19, 2010

 

2010-R-0164

UNDUE FAMILIARITY BETWEEN CORRECTION OFFICERS AND INMATES

By: James Orlando, Legislative Analyst

You asked for the rules regarding “undue familiarity” between correction officers and inmates, and the sanctions for such conduct.

SUMMARY

Department of Correction (DOC) directives prohibit its employees from engaging in undue familiarity with inmates and provide that the offense of undue familiarity normally results in dismissal (DOC Administrative Directive 2.6(10)). DOC policy outlines several activities which constitute undue familiarity.

While DOC directives on inmate conduct do not use the term “undue familiarity,” DOC prohibits inmates from engaging in several activities that involve interaction with correction officers and other DOC employees. Sanctions for these activities vary depending on the severity of the offense.

RULES REGARDING DOC EMPLOYEE CONDUCT

The DOC directive on employee conduct specifically prohibits DOC employees from engaging in undue familiarity with inmates. DOC Administrative Directive 2.17 classifies the following activities as undue familiarity:

1. sexual contact between an employee and an inmate or someone under DOC supervision including parole or community supervision;

2. sexualizing a situation without physical touching such as activities involving suggestive or pornographic photographs, suggestive or explicit letters, or behavior which provides sexual gratification;

3. personal involvement in an inmate's private or family matters outside assigned professional duties;

4. performing personal favors for inmates outside assigned professional duties;

5. discussing with an inmate any matter pertaining to the inmate's crime or the crime of other inmates (except as required for official business);

6. discussing with an inmate personal or business matters of employees;

7. discussing a facility's security operations with an inmate;

8. inconsistently enforcing facility rules to favor an inmate or group of inmates over other inmates or groups;

9. having personal work done by an inmate;

10. visiting or corresponding with or accepting telephone calls, personal notes, or letters from an inmate who is under DOC custody (except for an immediate family member when authorized in writing by the employee's unit administrator and the unit administrator of the facility where the immediate family member is incarcerated);

11. housing an inmate who is under DOC custody, including an inmate on community supervision, at the employee's home (except for an immediate family member when authorized in writing by the employee's unit administrator and the director of Parole and Community Services);

12. entering into a personal or business agreement with an inmate, including acting as a bail bondsman for an inmate or providing the resources for the inmate to bond out without prior notification to the unit administrator; and

13. transporting an inmate to an unauthorized location (DOC Administrative Directive 2.17(16)).

DOC directives state that undue familiarity normally results in dismissal. Other penalties for employee misconduct include written reprimand, suspension, and demotion (DOC Administrative Directive 2.6(6)).

RULES REGARDING INMATE CONDUCT

DOC's Code of Penal Discipline governs inmate conduct and disciplinary proceedings (DOC Administrative Directive 9.5). In addition, each correctional facility must establish its own rules concerning inmate conduct.

While the Code of Penal Discipline does not mention undue familiarity explicitly, it prohibits several activities that could involve inmate interaction with correction officers. The code classifies offenses into three classes, depending on the severity of the offense and the permissible range of sanctions. Table 1 lists several offenses which could involve undue familiarity between inmates and correction officers, grouped by class, and the range of sanctions for those activities.

Table 1: Inmate Offenses Potentially Involving Undue Familiarity with DOC Employees

Class Description and Sanctions

Offense Descriptions

Class A Offenses: punitive segregation, forfeiture of good time, and two penalties among the following:

1. reprimand;

2. loss of recreation privileges up to 30 consecutive calendar days;

3. loss of telephone privileges up to 90 consecutive calendar days;

4. loss of commissary privileges up to 90 consecutive calendar days during which time the inmate may not place an order;

5. loss or modification of social visiting privileges up to 60 consecutive calendar days;

6. extra duty up to 24 hours which shall be completed within one week of disposition;

7. confinement to quarters up to 15 consecutive calendar days;

8. loss of social correspondence privileges (incoming and outgoing correspondence) up to 60 consecutive calendar days; and

9. restitution for property theft or damage.

Penalties (3), (5), and (8) cannot be imposed concurrently.

Bribery: Giving or agreeing to give to any person a benefit intended to influence that person's action or decision.

Interfering with Safety or Security: Interfering with, resisting, or obstructing the execution of a staff member's official duties.

Sexual Misconduct: Touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another, including kissing, to gratify the sexual desire of either party.

Threats: Making verbal or written statements or engaging in physical conduct causing fear in another person.

Class B Offenses: punitive segregation, forfeiture of good time, and one penalty (see above under Class A Offenses).

Bartering: Conducting any unauthorized transaction for which payment of any kind is made, promised, or expected.

Insulting Language or Behavior. Using abusive or obscene language or making an obscene gesture.

Class C Offenses: forfeiture of good time and one penalty (see above under Class A Offenses).

Disorderly Conduct: Any nuisance or annoying behavior which interferes with the unit's order.

Source: Code of Penal Discipline, DOC Administrative Directive 9.5

JO:ts