Hostage Survival for Corrections Crisis Hostage Negotiation Level 1 (Corrections)
Institutional Conditions • Changes in: • Food service • Living conditions • Privileges • Incidents of abuse of inmates by staff members (real or alleged).
Actions by mentally ill or personality disordered inmates • Actions may be quite impulsive and/or based on powerful delusions, hallucinations, or a severe break with reality. • In other cases, it may be because they are antisocial or psychopathic people who care little for others and who do things to enhance their own sense of personal power.
Political Causes • Inmates may engage in hostage-taking as a means of advancing or promoting political causes. These inmates may include: • gang members • members of subversive groups • members of self-styled groups with specific goals and objectives.
As a Means of Escape • Inmates have been known to take hostages as a means of escape, by demanding their freedom in exchange for freeing their hostage(s).
As a Result of Disturbances or Crisis Events • As a result of a riot or other significant correctional emergency, inmates sometimes take hostages. Their doing so may be a spontaneous reaction to the event, or it may be planned. • Inmates have been known to stage a fight or riot so that officers will enter the living area to intervene, they then overpower the officers and take them hostage.
Introduction • Sometimes it is possible to detect indications of an impending, corrections, hostage incident. • Sometimes hostage-taking is a spontaneous reaction to a disturbance situation or other correctional crisis. • There are a number of common warning signs that inmates may have planned or are planning an event which will involve the taking of hostages.
Inmates hoarding large amounts of food • Saving portions of their meals, so they will have things to eat during a protracted incident. • May include an increase or change in purchases at the canteen/commissary.
Increased requests to be moved to a different cellblock • May request to be moved to a different cellblock or housing unit to avoid involvement in the disturbance, or they may want to be moved to be a part of the disturbance. • Transfer requests to other facilities may increase as well
Change of demeanor by inmates toward officers • Any change in normal inmate behavior can be an indicator of a pending or current problem. • Avoiding officers - such as not making eye contact, not talking to officers, or responding to questions or remarks with short, curt answers.
Increased attendance by inmates at particular programs • Inmates may increase their attendance at religious services, educational programming, or a recreation program. • This may be: • An effort to facilitate congregation to plan a disturbance. • To gather equipment or supplies to use during a disturbance. • or to get away from their cellblock when a disturbance is getting ready to occur.
Changes in social interaction among inmates • Inmates may be quieter and more subdued than usual in their interaction. • Often, this is when they tend to make either more or less eye contact with officers than normal. • It is possible that some inmates may be louder and more boisterous than usual because they are “psyching up” for the event.
Information from other inmates • Inmates may tell staff about unusual or problematic things (riots, fights, hostage episodes) for any number of reasons. • Inmates may approach and warn certain staff to stay home on a given day.
Staff must understand the importance of notifying supervisors of warnings regardless of whether or not there is doubt as to the validity.
Introduction • When inmates plan to take officers hostage, they sometimes do so randomly. They simply grab whoever is around. That may happen during an unplanned riot or other disturbance in which inmates want to take retribution against officers in general.
Introduction • In many other cases, however, inmates plan in advance who they will take hostage. They target specific officers. When they do so, there are several factors that often enter in to the decision as to who to take hostage. Some of these factors include the following:
Victim Officer Characteristics • The “Lenient” officer - is one who, in comparison to other officers, tends to exhibit one or more of the following characteristics. • Inmates may feel that such an officer is an easy target for hostage-taking.
Victim Officer Characteristics • The “Hardnosed” officer - is overly tough or macho or otherwise difficult in his or her dealings with inmates.
Victim Officer Characteristics • The “Out of shape” officer - is one who “looks” out of shape. • Overweight • Unprofessional appearance • Poor hygiene; uncombed hair, bad breath, body odor, smoker • Older in age
Victim Officer Characteristics • The “Female” officer - may be seen by inmates as weaker and an easier target than male officers. This may not be true, but is a stereotype often perceived by inmates.
Introduction • Based on past hostage situations that have occurred in jails and prisons, it is possible to list several patterns of predictable inmate behavior. • This is not to say that these behavior patterns will occur, only that they have happened in a number of situations and therefore could happen in similar situations.
Common inmate behavior patterns during hostage situations include: • One inmate assumes the role of leader. • The leader has convinced others to help do what he or she could not do alone.
Initially, the safety of the hostages will likely be of major importance to the hostage takers. • The inmates fear reprisal in the event a hostage is harmed or killed. • They know the hostages, and know they will have to deal with them after the crisis is over. • They know their bargaining position depends on keeping the hostages in a relatively safe and unharmed condition.
If a hostage situation is prolonged, the safety of the hostages may be at greater risk. • The inmate leader can only be expected to maintain control over other inmates for so long. • Other inmates may seek an opportunity to gain control of the situation. • A new group of inmates taking control of the situation may be more volatile and radical and even less emotionally stable.
Inmates may switch clothes with officers in an attempt to reduce visual identification. • In order to improve their chances of survival if they think a tactical resolution to the crisis is imminent.
Inmates may see a hostage situation as an opportunity to seek revenge on staff members. • There are always inmates who feel they have been treated unfairly by staff members and may see this as their opportunity to retaliate.
Other inmates may urge the hostage takers to harm or kill the hostage(s). • A hostage-taking may be the perfect opportunity for inmates who have previously felt powerless to assert control. • The cultural bond between inmates may cause a previously violent of non-violent inmate to participate in violence regardless of motivation.
Inmates will secure all keys and communication devices from hostages. • Even though keys and radios may not get them out of the facility, it gives them a feeling of power.
Inmates may threaten violence, or even use violence toward officers and staff. • May include sexual assault, being forced to perform humiliating acts, or physical assaults. • Inmates feel they need to make a statement, demonstrate seriousness, frustration, or just because they are violent people and/or emotionally-disturbed
Hostages will be secured, usually in a cell or other inaccessible area. • If inmates take over the entire living area they will likely secure the hostages in a cell or room. But in some cases, a hostage situation takes place in a smaller, more contained area such as an individual cell or room. • Hostage takers may evacuate non-participant inmates • out of the area to outside yards or common areas in an effort to reduce conflict and distractions.
Inmates will likely fabricate weapons. • Weapons may include stabbing and/or cutting instruments, blunt instruments, broom handles made into spears, cleaning instruments, aerosol devices, and so on. • At the extreme, inmates may have access to firearms; that could happen, if a transport officer has been taken hostage. • Access by inmates to materials that can be fabricated into weapons often depends on how much physical area they temporarily control in a hostage situation.
Hostages may be used as shields, as protection during a physical confrontation or a tactical response.
Introduction • The key is survival - your survival and that of your fellow hostages • If you emerge from the hostage situation alive, then you have won. • When working in a correctional facility, the possibility of being taken hostage is simply part of the job. • Before hostage negotiators have made contact with the hostage takers, it may be possible for you to talk to hostage takers and maybe even to convince them to stop the incident.
Avoid being blindfolded or hooded • The chance of being harmed by hostage-takers increases when there is no longer eye contact between hostages and hostage-takers. • Avoid locating yourself near windows and doors • These are natural avenues for rescue attempts, and it is possible that you might get hurt in the process of a tactical assault.
Request help for injured or ill hostages • If you or anyone else is injured or ill, or needs special medication, inform the hostage taker(s). Do so politely and, if possible, do so in the form of a request rather than a demand. • Do not try to negotiate for your own release once trained hostage negotiators have made contact with the hostage taker(s).
You may be ordered to be the “go-between” with the hostage negotiatorsand the hostage-takers • If so, relay messages accurately and neutrally – with as little emotion as possible. Do not add your editorial comments to messages, even though you may be tempted to do so.
Set goals. • Your main goal is to survive. • Cooperate in the negotiation as best you can.
Accept your situation, be patient, and be prepared to wait • If you have been taken hostage, you are in a situation in which you have lost much control over your fate. • Try to understand that it may take a lot of time for authorities to safely resolve the situation. ( It will most likely take more time than you think it should.) • It may be very frustrating for you to accept these things, but it’s important to try to do so. Your safety and the safety of others are at stake.
Be calm and controlled • The first 15 to 45 minutes of a hostage situation are the most volatile and dangerous time for all concerned. Try your best to be calm and controlled. You always have the ability to try to control your emotional response, and it is very much to your advantage to do so.
Use autogenic breathing and other positive coping techniques • This means doing deep, even breathing, inhaling through your nostrils and exhaling through your mouth. • Another way to calm your self is to envision something pleasant and to concentrate on that image. • This may be a particular familiar and pleasant place or activity or someone you care about. Doing this is known as “visualization.”
Engage in positive self-talk • “I will survive, no matter what.” By doing this, you essentially program your brain to a particular point of view, and that has a major effect on both your attitude and your body’s physical reaction to what happens.
Take a low-key approach • Do not become confrontational with hostage takers. • If you confront or challenge them, they may react by harming you or other hostages, or by becoming less willing to cooperate with hostage negotiators and others.
Follow instructions • As their hostage, you may have to follow their instructions – at least as much as possible. Doing so minimizes the likelihood of friction or anger, which could result in their harming you and/or other hostages. • Do not make suggestions to hostage taker(s) • If your suggestion goes bad, the hostage-taker may think you planned it and may then retaliate against you or others.
Never insult or demean hostage-takers. • Never remind them that you are an officer and therefore have authority. • Never threaten them with retaliation once the incident has been resolved. • Speak only when spoken to. • Answer their questions the best you can, but do not lie. • Observe what is going on and try to keep mental notes, so as to aid investigators following the incident.
Take note of the following: • Identities of the inmates involved, including leader(s) • Whether inmates have assaulted anyone • Try to remember the names of the perpetrators and victims of such assaults, and any detail about the assaults. • Whether hostage takers or other inmates protected you or other hostages • If so, who were they and how did they protect? • Whether crimes were committed by inmates