The first sections of this book are concerned with threat assessment: rather than a mere list of risk factors, the authors offer concrete skills on the development of a safety mindset, and further, techniques to develop and hone intuition, that early warning system that warns of danger before your conscious mind is even aware there is something wrong. This also includes what we can do to achieve a state of integrity and powerful calm. Rather than abstract pronouncements, the author offers specific strategies, including a method of breathing for the purpose of maintaining one’s center in crisis situations.
The next sections are the heart of the book, discussing specific behaviors ranging from confusion and obsessive concerns to psychosis, mania and acute disorganization. In one very important section, the author discusses interactions with opportunistic and manipulative individuals (at worst, those referred to as psychopaths), people who present a danger to the psychological and physical well-being of anyone with whom they come in contact.
This is followed by a section on suicide: recognition of patterns of behavior that suggest suicidal intent and best-practice communication and interventions for frontline officers, who must deal with the suicidal inmate first.
Next is a discussion of aggression, whether directed at the correctional officer or others. These sections focus how to de-escalate aggressive and chaotic inmates once a crisis is in play. The author elucidates the various motivations that drive aggression and further delineate the different types of aggression that result. De-escalation tactics are specific — one learns how to immediately recognize what mode of aggression other person is displaying, and the, one can quickly and effectively implement the de-escalation tactics that are best suited to deal with it. Safe Within the Walls is ideal to use as a core text to set up a comprehensive program within a prison to protect both inmates with mental illness and correctional officers. Finally, in essential appendices, the book presents protocols on current information on positional and compression asphyxiation (authored by Dr. Gary Vilke), and a protocol, specific to correctional officers, on excited delirium (authored by Lieutenant Michael Paulus, ret.) Rather than abstract information, more useful in a consulting room than in the field, Safe Within the Walls is tactically based, from start to finish.