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The Issue with Goldie
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 07/16/2018

Bouchard goldie scaled The following is an installment in "Icebreakers 101 - Volume IX: UNDAMMING THE ICE", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

My gold cross pen is very important to me. Goldie has been with me for over 30 years. It is a very stylish writing implement that always seems to feel perfect in my hand. I have penned some of my best ideas with Goldie and loath to be without it. In fact, I used Goldie to jot down some notes for this icebreaker.

Some tell me that the pen is dead, but that is not true. Granted the keyboard and the voice can record ideas. Still, Goldie is my pen of choice and often is what I use to stock my ideas bank.

One day, there came a directive from the Warden. We were no longer to carry pens in the secure perimeter of the facility unless they were clear barreled. I understood this intellectually. After all, a correctional facility should question all people going inside and keep them to a high standard.

Emotionally, however, I felt a bit of a loss. It may seem silly, but a part of my comportment might had been tied to the pen. Goldie was a great prop when it was allowed inside. In fact, many offenders over the years asked to borrow the pen. Without exception, I said “no” and handed them a facility pen instead. The pen became a symbol of my resolution.

Still, rules are rules and discipline on the job did not seem wise all for the sake of me carrying my favorite pen into a restricted area.

Many of the icebreakers I pen deal with persuasion and manipulation. This is a common theme for corrections 101 classes because new staff need reminders of the many ways enterprising prisoners attempt to dissuade staff from following the rules.

A simple persuasion/manipulation icebreaker can be done in a few minutes:
  1. The instructor tells the class that a certain pen is a prized possession of a staff member
  2. That staff member never allows anyone else to touch the pen
  3. Ask the class what persuasive phrases they would employ to gain use of the pen. Some of these tactics offered by past students follow:
    1. Can I see that pen? I want to see the difference between this and a prison pen.
    2. Compliment “Goldie” – use the flattery angle.
    3. “I need a working pen.”
    4. Demand the pen.
    5. Threaten assault.
    6. Threaten to bring ten inmates if the pen is not given up.
    7. Reminisce. State that you remember your grandmother having a similar pen.
  4. Discuss the many ways that staff can answer these tactics.
This is a great segue into a manipulation module.

It has been more than a dozen years since non-clear barreled pens were banned from the prison. I benefit from this with higher safety that comes from his rule. Goldie is still a part of my professional life. The pen continues to be a part of my speaking engagements, writing, and classroom work.

Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014” and "Operation Icebreakers: Shooting for Excellence" among others. The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

Other articles by Bouchard:


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