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Prison Warden


After 19 years of service, Paul was appointed as the warden of a  small mixed-security prison in a rural community. He oversees 105  inmates and 51 staff members in a facility designed to hold 100 minimum  and medium security prisoners. Over 80 percent of his correctional  officers have three or more years experience on the job, and the  treatment and education programs are run by qualified professionals with  long work histories at the facility. Generally, Paul is happy with his  job and doesn’t mind dealing with a few inexperienced correctional  officers who tend to make minor mistakes. He occasionally gets some  tough prisoners, but they settle down quickly because of the fair  policies enforced by Paul. The overall environment of the prison is  peaceful.

One day he had lunch with his friend Stephen, who is the warden of a  large maximum-security prison located outside a metropolitan city with a  high crime rate. Stephen oversees 720 inmates and 130 staff members in a  facility designed to house 375 prisoners. Due to overcrowding and  budget cuts, the prison offers limited treatment and education programs,  most of which are staffed by volunteers. The majority of the inmates  are repeat offenders with lengthy sentences, and 20 percent of them are  serving life without the possibility of parole. Major disciplinary  infractions occur on a daily basis. Although the overall atmosphere of  the prison is orderly, there is constant tension between the staff and  inmates, and maintaining security is an ongoing struggle.

Stephen’s views about his job are completely different from Paul’s.  Stephen finds his job overwhelming, thankless, and stressful. This is  surprising to Paul because both of them underwent the same training,  worked together as fresh officers, and use similar managerial  techniques. Paul begins to wonder how situational determinants are  affecting his and Stephen’s ability to be effective leaders and  managers.

  • Assess the reasons for the different patterns in the relationships that the two wardens have with their subordinates.
  • How can Paul and Stephen’s management philosophies affect the work patterns in their respective facilities?
  • How could work pattern and size of the organizational unit affect  Paul and Stephen differently? How could it affect the desired management  philosophy?
  • How could the prisons that Paul and Stephen work in differ with  regard to crises? How could this influence their management philosophy?

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