Practical wisdom is simply the right way to do the right thing, in a particular circumstance, with a particular person, at a particular time. In addition to understanding the law, it is the key virtue to successful risk management, as each individual situation can be so uniquely different. Corrections is a profession full of risk and liability. It is far from black and white, and requires practical wisdom to safety, legally and professionally navigate through the gray area of every situation; decisions made with sound judgment that minimize negative risk. Every decision in a specific incident will produce a consequence, and practical wisdom is your greatest defense against litigation and negative risk.
The constitution is your fundamental backbone, and policies and procedures are critically important to have in place to avoid negative and unnecessary risks. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is not a policy or rule in place for everything you do, and every decision you make. Policies, procedures and laws are constantly evolving and changing, and never overshadow just “doing the right thing”. Policy is simply the guardrails in helping you make wise decisions, while legality is the path towards your destination. The destination itself is success, ultimately defined by your integrity. If you compromise your integrity, you then change that destination completely. However, if your heart and mind are in the right place, you know and follow the law, and you exercise practical wisdom; you can then navigate your way to success. There might be different routes you take (decisions you make), and you might veer to the left or right a little, but as long as you stay on the road of legality, making decisions that are legal, professional and safe, you can still get to your destination (success). It is when you start to violate policy, break the law, and make unwise decisions, where the guardrails start coming down and the road becomes narrower and more dangerous.
While rules and policies will control the black and white of situations, a wise person stays guided by his or her principles, able to navigate beyond the black and white of rules, and see the gray in each situation.
Legality is the path, policy are the guardrails, success is the destination and integrity gets you there.