Paper Example on off the Rails: The Spring Valley Detention Center

Published: 2023-01-09
Paper Example on off the Rails: The Spring Valley Detention Center
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Penal system Business ethics Strategic management Leadership style
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1098 words
10 min read

Having an effective leader is crucial for any organization to achieve its goals. The Chief executive officer (CEO) of an organization gives general guidelines on how assigned tasks will be performed to meet the expectations as spelled out in the organization's mission (Conrad & Nash, 2012). When leadership from the top is inadequate, the organization is likely to be affected in negative ways as seen in the case of The Spring Valley Detention Center (SVDC).

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Impact of Lack of Leadership

Lack of leadership from the CEO would result in a lack of direction for the organization. Every organization that needs to be achieved by making specific steps and the CEO is a critical player in this respect. When CEOs fail to provide the direction to which an organization should take to achieve its goals, subordinates may experience confusion which will, in turn, undermine their ability to understand what they actually need to do to fulfill the organization's mandate. If followers have little understanding of what they are supposed to do to make an organization sustain its march towards its vision, frustration is likely to creep in, resulting in low morale among the followers (Forbes Coaches Council, 2017; Zenger & Folkman, 2016. This can be seen in the action and behaviors of employees at SVDC. For instance, correctional officers want to constitute a union to address the leadership issues, and some employees have approached the commission about bad leadership from James Law. From these actions, it is apparent that these groups lack a sense of direction on the way forward.

Bad leadership can also result in poor coordination among teams in the organization. When there is poor communication from the CEO on the overall policy of the organization, the decision-making of the line managers and supervisors can be impacted negatively since they do not know whether what they do is right or wrong(Zenger & Folkman, 2016; Conrad & Nash, 2012). The CEO gives policy guidelines as per the board resolutions. If the CEO fails to pass the intentions of these resolutions to employees through effective communication, it becomes difficult for middle-level leaders to make decisions on core organizational activities. Ineffective communication can be observed in the case of SVDC whereby the supervisors in the facility maintain the status quo and make decisions with reluctance. Here, the supervisors do not know whether their choices are in line with the mission of the organization because there is no clear communication from the top leadership on what exactly is expected of them.

Constituents of SVDC and how the Situation Affects them

The constituents of the detention center are correctional officers that maintain guard and other support staff (e.g. medical staff) who are not necessarily security officers but support the operations of the facility. The other stakeholders to the detention center are detainees and their families as well as the institution itself as an identity of its own. The correctional officers and other employees live in uncertainty about the overall direction of the organization. It is evident from the case study that the officers lack clear communication on how to deal with the issues of detainees. The lawsuits that have been filed against the facility results from inadequate supervision. If they live in a situation of uncertainty on how the facility is managed, they likely to fail in performing their roles as people who take care of the inmates. This is likely to harm the reputation of the institution.

The inmates' rights are infringed as correctional officers cannot make decisions that serve their best interest. Violation of the rights of the inmates has led to death and physical harm: one committed suicide and the other suffered injuries from accidental fall. The inmate who committed suicide may have done so due to the failure of the detention center officers to deal with the mental issues of the inmate. When there is a lack of leadership, middle-level officers cannot make appropriate decisions inmate safety.

Families are affected negatively by psychological pain. The loss of a loved one through suicide or otherwise is always painful to the involved families. The suicide would have been prevented. The role of the center is to correct inmates and, therefore, any death to the inmates comes as a shock to the families and may take years to recover. Accidental injuries can also affect families psychologically as many would get concerned about their loved ones if they get the information family members live in poor conditions at the detention center. The psychological effects on the families are evidenced in the lawsuits filed by the respective families of the affected inmates.

Outcomes When Supervisors Focus on Process and not People.

When supervisors focus on process rather than people, operations in an organization are affected adversely because it is the people who perform tasks. Focus on the process amounts to transactional leadership which only emphasizes on process and procedures with little involvement of the people. If employees are given little attention in the organization, they feel the leaders do not value their skills and competencies. Feelings of lack of appreciation can demoralize employees, resulting in poor performance in their areas of responsibility (Zenger & Folkman, 2016). Additionally, paying more attention to processes can make a leader lose the support and trust of subordinates. Loss of confidence in leaders has the potential to create resistance among employees against policy directives (Forbes Coaches Council, 2017). Consequently, significant activities of the organization would be disrupted due to lack of motivation to meet job expectations and some workers may even end up leaving the organization.

On the whole, SVDC is facing a crisis due to the poor leadership of James Law. The leadership of Law does not communicate effectively to the subordinates nor involve them in decision making. The distant relationship between the followers and Law has affected service delivery of the correctional officers negatively. Good leadership is reflected in a clear direction of the organization and a healthy relationship between employees and their managers. On the other hand, bad leadership erodes morale and engenders confusion among followers. The latter is a perfect example of the leadership situation at SVDC.


Conrad, D., & Nash, S. (2012). Learning from bad leadership: MBA students reflect on bad leadership and lessons learned. International Journal of Business and Social Research, 2(6), 198-216. Retrieved from

Forbes Coaches Council. (2017, October 18). 14 signs of negative leadership (and how you can fix it). Retrieved from

Zenger, J., & Folkman, J. (2016). The trickle-down effect of good (and bad) leadership. Retrieved from

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