Halfway Started, Halfway Done
September 23, 2018
This fourth week has been the hardest week at the Center so far. I have been fighting a cold for a little over a week now, and it has caused me to miss three days of work. At the Center, a lot can happen in three days. First, more than half of the residents who were there previously (9 in total) were gone when I returned. Additionally, the Center was nearly at max capacity. The Center can hold 21 beds maximum, and upon my return to work there were 20 beds full. This means that not only did I have to adjust to familiar faces being gone, but I had to meet 16 new residents and try to start building a relationship with all of them! It was mind-boggling, and more than a little intimidating.
On top of this, in my three days of missed work, plus my regular weekend, totaling in five days away from the Center, there was a new community initiative put in place. The initiative was proposed and approved a few weeks before my arrival at the internship, but the upstart of it began this week. The community initiative is designed to make the staff feel more welcome, more appreciated, and more positive about coming in to work, and includes many little additions to the building and staff community areas. One of these additions is pictured in the feature image. The stones in the landscaping are new additions, and they read positive and friendly messages that encourage those entering the facility to think of our program and the Center community as more inviting than a Detention Center might otherwise convey. Additionally, there are posters in staff briefing featuring staff pictures, awards and recognitions the Center has received, and staff birthdays and anniversaries. It feels a little cheesy, but the atmosphere had definitely felt different with these changes.
This initiative has taught me more about the culture of working in the justice system. The Director and everyone else in the system knows the work is hard, stressful, and draining, but they try their best to give back to the staff that do the necessary work. I’ve learned that the Linn County Detention is one of, if not the best Juvenile Detention Center in the state of Iowa, both in how we treat the staff and the residents here. It was startling to learn this, and I can’t imagine that the way we run our Center isn’t the standard, as everything runs so smoothly and is as positive as it can be, given the nature of the residents’ reasons for being here.
Aside from all the changes with this new initiative, I have resumed my work as usual. I feel so much more comfortable and so at home, in a way, at this facility. It gives me confidence and reassurance to know that not only have I found the right career for me, but that it’s a career that brings me hope and joy. Working with these residents has really changed my perspective on the juvenile system, and as I work towards independently running a pod, I find myself excited to return to work each day. The future is looking bright!