Presentation on theme: "Correctional Report Writing: An Annual Review Version 2"— Presentation transcript:
1Correctional Report Writing: An Annual Review Version 2 Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Training Administration
2Course InformationCourse created by Lynne Presley, Training Administration, Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Data Sources:Material furnished by Donna J. Burkhalter, Correctional Training Officer, William S. Key CCCourse Released: August 2001Revised: April 7, 2004Oracle Course Code ADMI Training Credit: Two HoursContact:
3Course ObjectivesAfter finishing this course, participants will be able…to understand and define the most common types of reports used in the correctional workplaceto identify the three types of reports that have a high degree of legal implicationsto identify the seven basic elements of a reportto identify the six requirements for writing effective correctional reportsto identify the items that should be included in hand-written notes
4IntroductionCorrections 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.
5DefinitionJust what is a correctional report?For the purpose of this training, a correctional report is defined as a written, formal presentation of facts.
6Types of ReportsWhat are some of the most common correctional reports?Log entries and written records are also considered forms of correctional reports:Visiting logsTelephone call logsMail logsCanteen recordsProperty recordsDisciplinary reportsIncident reportsMedical reportsSerious Incident ReportsInspection reportsACA reports
7Report AccuracyWhy do correctional reports need to be accurate and well-written?Every written report is an official documentMistakes in grammar, composition, accuracy and ethics may come back to haunt youYou may have to defend your report in courtBecause they provide a means of insuring that written policies and procedures are applied consistently by all staff and are appropriately documented
8Review of Reports Who might review correctional reports? Your supervisorThe facility headExecutive staffSheriff or jail administratorAttorney GeneralAn inmate’s attorneyCourt personnelThe public
9Legal ImplicationsWritten reports may have legal implications. The report’s contents may well decide the outcome of litigation against the facility, the agency, or you personally. Reports that may have legal implications include:Disciplinary reports contested by an inmateIncident reports regarding a use of forceOther reports concerning conditions of confinement or civil rights
10Basic Report ElementsCorrectional reports contain common elements, which will be defined in the following pages. The elements are:Who?What?When?Where?How?Why?Action taken?
11Basic 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.)
12Basic Report Elements: What? Are the facts in the report clear, complete and accurate?State the facts, not what you suspect happenedPrecisely 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
13Basic 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
14Basic Report Elements: How? Remember to provide a chronological narrative of how the situation began, progressed, and endedAre the conclusions in the report supported by the facts?
15Basic 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
16Basic Report Elements: Why? Remember to stick to the facts. Don’t 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.
17Basic 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 completedReport what the disposition of the evidence was, and identify the witnesses and victims, if any
18Requirements for Good Reports #1: Be completeIs 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?
19Requirements for Good Reports #2: Be conciseDon’t editorialize – just state the factsBe brief and to the pointMake every sentence countAvoid repeating a point already madeDo not include unnecessary information that is not pertinent to the specific incident
20Requirements for Good Reports #3: Be clearUse simple, descriptive wordsAvoid exaggerated proseUse names of people, numbers, titles, clock and calendar time, gender, and words that point to a specific person or thingDon’t 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
21Requirements for Good Reports #4: Be correctAvoid poor grammar by using simple descriptive language (have a trusted co-worker check your work)Check for correct spelling using a dictionaryWrite neatly and legiblyGive accurate informationRecord actual words or phrases spoken, and don’t paraphrase or generalize
22Spelling and Grammar: A Closer Look Remember that misspelled words detract from a report’s credibility. In fact, misspelled words can:Make the officer look carelessConfuse the readerChange the meaning of a sentenceAffect the officer’s credibility in court
23Spelling and Grammar: A Closer Look Here are some tips to improve your spelling and grammar:Proofread your report, then have someone else proofread itUse a dictionary and spell checkerKeep a list of corrected words that you commonly misspellMake sure your verb tenses are correctMake sure you know the meaning of a word before using it, especially when using technical and medical terms
24Requirements for Good Reports #5: Be courteous and objectiveAvoid judgments, stereotypes, opinions and biases in your reportAvoid 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.
25Requirements for Good Reports #6: Be professionalThe report should be neatly-written and free of physical flaws (avoid creases, wrinkles, smudges, etc.)The report should be well-organized and error-freeThe report should be prepared in a format that’s appropriate and easy to read (neatly written or typed)
26The Importance of Taking Notes It’s 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.
27What to Include in Your Notes, Part 1 Jot down all information you might need to complete your report, such as:Dates and times of incidentsInmates who were involved in or witnessed the incidentEmployees who were involved in or witnessed the incidentAny other information pertinent to the incident
28What to Include in Your Notes, Part 2 Points to remember when taking notes:Notes should include the essential information you’ll need for your reportMake the notes as quickly as possible after the incidentInclude verbal statements of participants and witnessesIf applicable, include sketches of the scene and locations of people and important objectsNote all evidence collected and its disposition. Describe any distinguishable marks and tags on the evidence.
29What to Include in Your Notes, Part 3 More points to remember when taking notes:If needed, have pictures taken and marked, and make note of thisRecord events in chronological order and list approximate times of eventsAlways carry your notebookNumber the notebook’s pages consecutively, and don’t remove any pagesRecord only facts and observations, not your opinions
30What to Include in Your Notes, Part 4 More points to remember when taking notes:Record your words accurately, so they won’t be misinterpreted and used against you in a legal proceedingMake reference to all communications and reports concerning the incidentWhen 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.
31Advantages 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.
32Click on the letter by the answer you think is correct. Self-Test: Page 1Click on the letter by the answer you think is correct.1. This course defines a correctional report as a “written, formal presentation of facts.”TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
33Self-Test: Page 22. When correctional reports are not accurate and complete, the result may be:Loss of staff timeCostly legal and personnel proceedingsBoth A and BClick button to go to next question
34Self-Test: Page 33. The accuracy of visiting log entries is not as important as the accuracy of disciplinary reports.TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
35Self-Test: Page 44. Every written correctional report is considered to be an official agency document.TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
36Self-Test: Page 5 5. Who might review a correctional report? A County SheriffAn Attorney GeneralBoth A and BClick button to go to next question
37Self-Test: Page 66. Correctional reports concerning conditions of inmate confinement or civil rights have:Legal implicationsThe requirement that they must be destroyed when the incident is overThe requirement that they must be destroyed after six monthsClick button to go to next question
38Self-Test: Page 77. It is not necessary to include the complete name and title of employees mentioned in a correctional report.TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
39Self-Test: Page 88. When describing an incident, it is proper to include your suspicions as to why the incident happened.TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
40Self-Test: Page 99. If evidence was seized during an incident, the disposition of that evidence should be included in the incident report.TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
41Self-Test: Page 1010. It is proper to refer to an inmate as a “snitch” in a report.TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
42Self-Test: Page 1111. Misspelled words in a report can affect an officer’s credibility in court.TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
43Self-Test: Page 1212. You should use absolute statements in your reports, such as: “Inmate Jones is always late for count.”TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
44Self-Test: Page 1313. 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 reportRecord the facts in a pocket notebook to help you remember the details when you write your reportClick button to go to next question
45Self-Test: Page 1414. When recording incident details in your notebook, verbal statements of incident participants and witnesses should be included in your notes.TrueFalseClick button to go to next question
46Self-Test: Page 1515. When entering incident details in your notebook, you should include facts, observations, and your personal opinions about the incidentTrueFalseClick button to go to next question
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