Week 2:
Growing Comfortable and Earning Privileges


Arthur Vining Davis Fellow in Adolescent Psychology

Linn County Juvenile Detention Center | Cedar Rapids, Iowa

September 9, 2018

My second week at detention has been a much different experience from week one. First of all, I’m much more comfortable interacting with residents and staff, and navigating around the building. I’m also growing more familiar with the history and policies of the Center. This has resulted in more frequent interactions and greater respect from the residents and greater trust in me from my fellow staff and supervisors. As I’ve learned the ins and outs of the program, I’ve slowly been trusted to handle more responsibilities on my own, albeit with supervision. Part of these responsibilities include being trusted with tools of the program. While I still have a ways to go before I can earn a set of keys and the use of a walkie-talkie on my own, I earned the responsibility to carry around a pen and a point card hole punch. These are big responsibilities because if I were to forget these somewhere, or set them down, a resident could easily pick it up and use it as a weapon or grant him/herself free points on their card. Now that I am trusted with these tools, I am more confident in my ability to continue advancing my skills and knowledge in the juvenile justice system than before.

Earning My Pen
Earning My Pen

In addition to earning these responsibilities, I have also been receiving excellent feedback from my trainers and my supervisors. The day I earned my hole punch, I learned my trainer Roxanne had recommended to my supervisor that I receive it the night before. The same day, my supervisor Terry approached me to compliment my ability to write daily observations (DOs)on the residents. At the end of each shift, each youth counselor writes an overall observation on each resident in their assigned pod. Terry stated that she thinks I write DOs as well as a full-time staff member! Roxanne and Terry have been so impressed by my ability to pick up the skills quickly they both have asked me to consider applying for full-time employment after I graduate from Cornell. I have Cornell’s education to thank for these writing skills; I am able to be concise and observant after learning how to write observational research papers in class, particularly my research methods in psychology courses.

Earning My Hole Punch
Earning My Hole Punch

All of this feedback has solidified my career goals for forensic psychology, but now I find myself with a dilemma. Do I continue my goal of pursuing a degree in research, as I have intended all along, or do I consider a degree in counseling and field work, something this internship is teaching me to appreciate more? While I still find myself leaning toward research, this internship has presented new insight into my future as a forensic psychologist. I have really come to enjoy the field work of interacting with these individuals to build relationships with them and help steer their behavior for the better.

Coloring and Chatting with Two Residents
Coloring and Chatting with Two Residents

Perhaps there is a way to combine both aspects with my graduate degree. Either way, I am glad for this opportunity to teach me more about the field I am passionate about, as well as to teach me more about myself and my own interests in working in this field. The future looks bright for my career in criminal justice and psychology!

Jamie Rhoads