Pattern Case Study Fact Pattern  Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

The issues, problems and recommendations

The subject matter of the case study itself highlights a number of issues, factors and problems that existed at the Mermon Correctional Institution, which is located outside the Washington D.C. One of the most significant problems that the Mermon Correctional Facility faces in the case study is of the existing staff levels employed by the prison administration. According to many prison staff members, which also included the victim Correctional Officer Marsha Willis, the number of staff enrolled by the prison administration was less than the numbers that should have been present in an average correctional facility in the country. According to the classification of prisons made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a correctional institution requires to have a high staff member to inmate ratio. Such a policy was in place to ensure that the prison security measures were up to the mark required for the type of offenders sentenced in a correctional institution such as the Mermon facility.

Understaffing has been the major factor that could be blamed for the incident that resulted in the death of the Correctional Officer in the Prison Chapel. In the view of this problem, despite of it being a major public issue, where there have been calls for the overhaul of the prison management, the prison managers have remained adamant that the murder was not the result of understaffing, but of the senseless violence that the inmate involved carried out towards Correctional Officer Marsha Willis. In light of this problem, the recommendation that can be made for the prison management would be very clear. According to statistics, average prison budgets allocated to the prisons by the government include a detailed planned distribution under many heads (BOP, Federal Prison System, 2012). A few of these heads include the salaries of the prison staff, the recreational facilities, the food budget, developmental budgets and many more. The total approved budget for a single correctional facility would include a very high amount. A Although the government allocates the funds according to account heads, the prison management can redistribute the funds in such a manner that the staff salaries are allocated a higher amount and a lesser important account head must be reduced to a smaller figure. With efficient and economical allocation of the budget in the prison system, the problems of understaffing can be tackled with ease. The only requirement would be that the prison management performs the task it is handed regarding the handling of the prison budget with honesty, religiously and ethically.

Another problem that this case highlights is the reaction of the public in light of the event that has occurred at the Mermon Correctional Facility. The members of the general public have been vocal about the case of Marsha Willis' murder. One of the demands is that to remove from office the senior members of the Department of Correction Officials. The said department is responsible for the correctional officers that have to be staffed at various different prisons across the states. The primary purpose of this department is not about ensuring the prison managers perform their jobs efficiently and properly, but to ensure the fulfillment of the staffing requirements of a specific state prison (Officer Requirements: Correctional Officer Ethical Standards of Conduct). Public fury in the case demands removal of the senior officials of the department, which is completely incorrect as those officials are not responsible for an act that has occurred in one of the prisons. The responsibility of managing the prison lies with the prison administration, which assesses the need of any additional staff required and only then involves the Department of Correction Officials to fill up the vacancies. In this case, the recommendation would be not to terminate the senior officials of the department as this would not affect the existing understaffing problem in any positive manner.

The public demands have also been surrounded by the calls for a permanent 24-hour lockdown for those prisoners who have committed crimes against women and have carried out attacks on them, which eventually lead to them being sentenced for punishments in the prisons. A permanent 24-hour lockdown by the prison authorities would have a negative impact on the prisoners who were not involved in the violent attack on Marsha Willis. The prisoners are allowed very small recreational time breaks during an average prison punishment. However, if the lockdown is implemented, the impact on the mental conditions of the prisoners can be very negative. Those prisoners who have moved on the path of redemption and have been displaying good behavior and attitude in the prison might lose their renewed hope and might revert back again to their violent and misbehaving attitude. To counter any such move by the prison authorities, the inmates in the case have been voicing their concerns regarding the permanent lockdowns through their legal representatives and lawyers. The discussion made by the lawyers of the inmates already in the Mermon Correctional Institution is that only that inmate or person must be penalized for the murder of Correctional Officer Marsha Willis, who has been involved in the violent attack. The other inmates must not be penalized for an action that they have not taken, as this would be against the provisions of the purpose of a prison, where a person must be treated with humane acts (Standards on Treatment of Prisoners, 2011). Therefore, the general public has been a vocal section of the community and has demanded the lockdown of the inmates. Although the demands of the public carry a lot of value, the demands in itself are unfair and are based on a biased emotional opinion. When it is the matter about one's life, the decisions should not be made in the heat of the moment and therefore be taken by considering all the prevailing factors and the issues related to the possible decision and the resultant outcomes.

The case study targets one specific person who possibly could be assumed to be the inmate who attacked and murdered Correctional Officer Marsha Willis. The nature of criminal activities in which this particular inmate, John James, was brought to jail was aiming towards him as the possible suspect who could have committed this murder. This could have been possible as John James had a less strict situation for him due to his good behavior that he had maintained in the years he had been in the prison. According to the case study, John James had access to many locations inside the correctional facility and could attend the religious services at the Prison Chapel. This lenient and relaxed approach been applied on John James might have given him the sense of freewill which he might have utilized to commit the murder. Therefore, it is recommended in this scenario that the administration of the prison management should properly investigate John James and his whereabouts inside the prison at the time of the murder, also ensuring that it was John who had committed the murder, and if not, John was not punished incorrectly. Moreover, the prison administration should review the punishment relaxation rules based on the attitude of an inmate. Also, when prisoners who have a record of having violent attitude towards women, are roaming around due to relaxed security measures, the prison administration should not allow female correctional officers to be posted alone.


BOP. (2012). Federal Prison System. Retrieved from Department of Justice:

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Officer Requirements: Correctional Officer Ethical Standards of Conduct. (n.d.). Retrieved from Florida Department of Law Enforcement:

Redding, H. (2004, September). The Components of Prison Security. Retrieved from International foundation for protection officers:

Standards on Treatment of Prisoners. (2011). Retrieved from American Bar Association:

Welborn, V. (2005, January). Chapels represent change in maximum-security prison. Retrieved from

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