Qualified and well trained staff know how to use such occasions to build relationships with prisoners. They learn to know new prisoners in this way, and with the prisoners they already know, the relationship may grow stronger. The clue is to get the relationships “right”. A “right” relationship with prisoners differs, depending upon who these persons are. Without being able to explain explicitly what a right relationship with a specific prisoner is, a well trained and experienced officer would just know. However, a prison officer has to show that he or she can be trusted, and that the knowledge and skills they have can help and support the prisoner throughout the serving of the sentence. Honesty, sincerity, respect, and genuine interest in the person – the prisoners – is of vital importance in this respect. Besides of being a prison officer, a prison officer is fellow human being too.
In a small prison, the bureaucracy is easy to understand as there are few levels and few persons at each level. Prisoners understand quite fast who to turn in order to present their errands. The leader of the prison would most likely be an integrated part of the staff group and pay visits to the wings quite often. With the leader present at the wing, the prisoners may remind him or her of their application for, for example, prison leaves, and the leader may explain why the answer is delayed. Face-to-face communication reduces the change of misunderstanding and suspiciousness. Questions could be asked, and answers given right away to sort things out.