Week 5:
Greater Independence


Arthur Vining Davis Fellow in Adolescent Psychology

Linn County Juvenile Detention Center | Cedar Rapids, Iowa

September 30, 2018

Week 5 has been the best week at the Center so far. The week began with a difficult decision of cutting back the number of days I spend at the Center. Originally I was going Tuesday through Saturday, working 40 hours a week at the Center, and researching and working on my research project another 6-8 hours on top of that each week. This has proven to be too difficult, especially with a Thursday second shift rolling over into a Friday first shift. After much talking with my supervisor, we came to the conclusion that I will be taking Fridays off at the Center to focus on my research, but to make up for my lack of physical presence I will continue creating educational activities for the residents with their GED’s to work on during school hours. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, particularly because I have come to love my job, but it was for my own health and sanity in the end.

Late Night Working on Research Project
Late Night Working on Research Project

Another exciting development this week was my interview with the Director of the Center, Dawn Schott. I sat down with Dawn to discuss her education and career path that lead her to where she is now, and it was very refreshing, as well as reassuring for my own future. Dawn entered the work force right out of undergrad, and expressed her belief that everyone should do so in order to gain valuable life experience before moving on to graduate studies. Dawn has spent her entire career with the Linn County Juvenile Detention Center, and eventually worked her way up through the system to Director. She believes that I have the same capabilities in my field, and has encouraged me to explore working, even if only part-time, in the criminal justice system before going on to graduate school. This interview was incredibly reassuring considering my own doubts about my ability to get into, as well as transition into, graduate school. I’ll be taking my conversation with Dawn to heart as I finish my education at Cornell and consider my options for the future.

Finally, this week saw my supervisor Terry give me greater independence. I was assigned to work with the orientation pod residents (opod for short). This means that I was in charge of the new residents who have not completed the opod program and test, and it was my job to work with them through the opod programming to help them pass the test at the end of the week. It is every opod resident’s goal to test out of opod to join the rest of the residents in the facility’s regular programming. The opod program consists of a few psychological tests, a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) exam, and educational activities to keep them occupied throughout the day. Being put in charge of their daily programming is a huge responsibility because there is a strict schedule and program outline that must be followed to a T, and having this responsibility granted to me is a huge sign of their trust in my ability to be independent at the Center. With this new skill set under my belt, I am well on my way to running a pod independently.

Instructing O-pod Residents Through a Test
Instructing O-pod Residents Through a Test

Jamie Rhoads