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Correctional Report Writing: An Annual Review Version 2 Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Training Administration.

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Presentation on theme: "Correctional Report Writing: An Annual Review Version 2 Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Training Administration."— Presentation transcript:

1 Correctional Report Writing: An Annual Review Version 2 Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Training Administration

2 Course Information Course created by Lynne Presley, Training Administration, Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Data Sources: Material furnished by Donna J. Burkhalter, Correctional Training Officer, William S. Key CC Course Released: August 2001 Revised: April 7, 2004 Oracle Course Code ADMI203200 Training Credit: Two Hours Contact:

3 to understand and define the most common types of reports used in the correctional workplace to identify the three types of reports that have a high degree of legal implications to identify the seven basic elements of a report to identify the six requirements for writing effective correctional reports to identify the items that should be included in hand-written notes Course Objectives After finishing this course, participants will be able…

4 Introduction Corrections is a business that relies on written communication. Accurate and complete written reports form the documentation that helps to complete our agency mission. When documentation is not complete, the result may be lost time, confusion, and costly personnel and legal proceedings.

5 Definition Just what is a correctional report? For the purpose of this training, a correctional report is defined as a written, formal presentation of facts.

6 Types of Reports Disciplinary reports Incident reports Medical reports Serious Incident Reports Inspection reports ACA reports Log entries and written records are also considered forms of correctional reports: Visiting logs Telephone call logs Mail logs Canteen records Property records What are some of the most common correctional reports?

7 Report Accuracy Every written report is an official document Mistakes in grammar, composition, accuracy and ethics may come back to haunt you You may have to defend your report in court Because they provide a means of insuring that written policies and procedures are applied consistently by all staff and are appropriately documented Why do correctional reports need to be accurate and well-written?

8 Review of Reports Who might review correctional reports? Your supervisor The facility head Executive staff Sheriff or jail administrator Attorney General An inmates attorney Court personnel The public

9 Legal Implications Disciplinary reports contested by an inmate Incident reports regarding a use of force Other reports concerning conditions of confinement or civil rights Written reports may have legal implications. The reports contents may well decide the outcome of litigation against the facility, the agency, or you personally. Reports that may have legal implications include:

10 Basic Report Elements Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? Action taken? Correctional reports contain common elements, which will be defined in the following pages. The elements are:

11 Basic Report Elements: Who? Was everyone involved identified in the report? Is their involvement clear? Does this include witnesses and people who gave assistance? Have these secondary people been interviewed, or have they submitted a report? Remember to identify inmates by their complete name and number. Remember to identify employees by their complete name and title. (Although all facility employees may know who an employee is, a subsequent reviewer may not.)

12 Basic Report Elements: What? Are the facts in the report clear, complete and accurate? State the facts, not what you suspect happened Precisely identify objects used or involved by furnishing complete descriptions and details. For instance, an officer inventorying property might write one gold ring with diamond. Instead, the officer should write One gold-colored ring with a clear stone. Include all relevant events

13 Basic Report Elements: When? Are all time elements connected with the event(s) identified in the report? If the exact time is unknown, specify the approximate time and trace steps from the last known time. Example: I just finished eating lunch (I started at 12:10 pm) and was on my way to relieve the A unit officer when I saw… Are events reported chronologically (in the order that they happened)? Make sure there are no unexplained gaps in time

14 Basic Report Elements: How? Remember to provide a chronological narrative of how the situation began, progressed, and ended Are the conclusions in the report supported by the facts?

15 Basic Report Elements: Where? Does the report identify locations where the event(s) took place? Are the significant features of each place identified? List identifiable locations. Example: C Unit, McArthur side, in front of the Officers Station List the location of each person and important object

16 Basic Report Elements: Why? Remember to stick to the facts. Dont add your feelings, opinions or speculation to the report. Was there a motive? (If this information is second hand, state so and furnish the source of the information) Do not exaggerate or embellish the facts and circumstances of the incident.

17 Basic Report Elements: Action Taken What was the final disposition of the incident? If the problem was referred to someone else, to whom? If the incident was handled informally, how was it handled? Specify if any other related reports were completed Report what the disposition of the evidence was, and identify the witnesses and victims, if any

18 Requirements for Good Reports Is the report complete, with no missing information? Have you proofread the report for accuracy and readability? Have you included all essential information? Did you use a passive voice when writing the report? (e.g. do not write I went to the housing unit. Instead, write Officer [name] went to the housing unit.) Did you sign and date the report? #1: Be complete

19 Dont editorialize – just state the facts Be brief and to the point Make every sentence count Avoid repeating a point already made Do not include unnecessary information that is not pertinent to the specific incident #2: Be concise Requirements for Good Reports

20 Use simple, descriptive words Avoid exaggerated prose Use names of people, numbers, titles, clock and calendar time, gender, and words that point to a specific person or thing Dont use needlessly formal words. Example: Officer Wellman extracted the inmate from his cell. (The word removed is more appropriate than extracted.) Avoid slang and jargon. Example: Catch out, snitch, jigger, and punk are slang and not appropriate to use #3: Be clear Requirements for Good Reports

21 Avoid poor grammar by using simple descriptive language (have a trusted co-worker check your work) Check for correct spelling using a dictionary Write neatly and legibly Give accurate information Record actual words or phrases spoken, and dont paraphrase or generalize #4: Be correct Requirements for Good Reports

22 Spelling and Grammar: A Closer Look Make the officer look careless Confuse the reader Change the meaning of a sentence Affect the officers credibility in court Remember that misspelled words detract from a reports credibility. In fact, misspelled words can:

23 Proofread your report, then have someone else proofread it Use a dictionary and spell checker Keep a list of corrected words that you commonly misspell Make sure your verb tenses are correct Make sure you know the meaning of a word before using it, especially when using technical and medical terms Here are some tips to improve your spelling and grammar: Spelling and Grammar: A Closer Look

24 Avoid judgments, stereotypes, opinions and biases in your report Avoid absolute statements. For instance, Jones is always late for count is an absolute statement. Unless Jones is late for every count, a more accurate statement would be Jones is frequently late for count. If necessary, jot down your notes, then allow a cooling- off period before writing your report. #5: Be courteous and objective Requirements for Good Reports

25 The report should be neatly-written and free of physical flaws (avoid creases, wrinkles, smudges, etc.) The report should be well-organized and error-free The report should be prepared in a format thats appropriate and easy to read (neatly written or typed) #6: Be professional Requirements for Good Reports

26 The Importance of Taking Notes Its not always possible to write a report immediately after an incident has happened. Examples: Medical emergencies requiring transport, fire evacuations, and group disturbances. When you cannot immediately write a report, make it a habit to record the facts of the situation in a pocket notebook. Notes can be an excellent memory aid when you write your report. Notes can also be used to refresh your memory when you testify in a court case.

27 What to Include in Your Notes, Part 1 Dates and times of incidents Inmates who were involved in or witnessed the incident Employees who were involved in or witnessed the incident Any other information pertinent to the incident Jot down all information you might need to complete your report, such as:

28 What to Include in Your Notes, Part 2 Notes should include the essential information youll need for your report Make the notes as quickly as possible after the incident Include verbal statements of participants and witnesses If applicable, include sketches of the scene and locations of people and important objects Note all evidence collected and its disposition. Describe any distinguishable marks and tags on the evidence. Points to remember when taking notes:

29 What to Include in Your Notes, Part 3 If needed, have pictures taken and marked, and make note of this Record events in chronological order and list approximate times of events Always carry your notebook Number the notebooks pages consecutively, and dont remove any pages Record only facts and observations, not your opinions More points to remember when taking notes:

30 What to Include in Your Notes, Part 4 Record your words accurately, so they wont be misinterpreted and used against you in a legal proceeding Make reference to all communications and reports concerning the incident When the notebook is full, file it away in chronological order with others, in case you need to reference it at a later date. Use your notebook only for business, not for personal use. More points to remember when taking notes:

31 Advantages of Taking Notes By following the note-taking tips in this course, you will have the basis of a report. Using this system will reduce your error rate and add to your credibility. The most important benefit is that your reports will have a greater degree of accuracy relative to times, statements, and events than memory alone allows.

32 Self-Test: Page 1 Click on the letter by the answer you think is correct. 1. This course defines a correctional report as a written, formal presentation of facts. True False Click button to go to next question

33 Self-Test: Page 2 2. When correctional reports are not accurate and complete, the result may be: Loss of staff time Costly legal and personnel proceedings Both A and B Click button to go to next question

34 Self-Test: Page 3 3. The accuracy of visiting log entries is not as important as the accuracy of disciplinary reports. True False Click button to go to next question

35 Self-Test: Page 4 4. Every written correctional report is considered to be an official agency document. True False Click button to go to next question

36 Self-Test: Page 5 5. Who might review a correctional report? A County Sheriff An Attorney General Both A and B Click button to go to next question

37 Self-Test: Page 6 6. Correctional reports concerning conditions of inmate confinement or civil rights have: Legal implications The requirement that they must be destroyed when the incident is over The requirement that they must be destroyed after six months Click button to go to next question

38 Self-Test: Page 7 7. It is not necessary to include the complete name and title of employees mentioned in a correctional report. True False Click button to go to next question

39 Self-Test: Page 8 8. When describing an incident, it is proper to include your suspicions as to why the incident happened. True False Click button to go to next question

40 Self-Test: Page 9 9. If evidence was seized during an incident, the disposition of that evidence should be included in the incident report. True False Click button to go to next question

41 Self-Test: Page 10 10. It is proper to refer to an inmate as a snitch in a report. True False Click button to go to next question

42 Self-Test: Page 11 11. Misspelled words in a report can affect an officers credibility in court. True False Click button to go to next question

43 Self-Test: Page 12 12. You should use absolute statements in your reports, such as: Inmate Jones is always late for count. True False Click button to go to next question

44 Self-Test: Page 13 13. When you cannot write a report immediately following an incident, what should you do as soon as possible? Share details of the incident with co-workers, so they can help you to remember details when you write your report Record the facts in a pocket notebook to help you remember the details when you write your report Click button to go to next question

45 Self-Test: Page 14 14. When recording incident details in your notebook, verbal statements of incident participants and witnesses should be included in your notes. True False Click button to go to next question

46 Self-Test: Page 15 15. When entering incident details in your notebook, you should include facts, observations, and your personal opinions about the incident True False Click button to go to next question

47 Exit Thank you for taking this course. To exit, click on the button below.

48 Answer Hyperlink 1 Your answer is correct. Click button above to return to the test

49 Answer Hyperlink 2 Your answer is incorrect. Please try again! Click button above to return to the test

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