The recent series of articles on drug use at the D.C. Detention Facility {front page, June 10-14} served as a serious setback to the morale of staff throughout the corrections department. The opinion of many staff is that the agency was unduly subjected to scrutiny about an issue that plagues most public officials in the Washington metropolitan area. The legal, health, social and management manifestations of drug use are inescapable realities that confront all officials.

Yet most employees of the District's Corrections Department deserve plaudits for the tremendous job they do. They feel compelled to affirm for this community that the jail, as well as each of the other seven prisons operated by the District, is well managed by a competent, committed, dedicated staff, who often work against great odds.

Corrections administration has always been a challenging job because of the problem-laden backgrounds of inmates. The situation is exacerbated by the shrinking pool of resources available to deal with the larger number of prisoners, who for the most part have been arrested and convicted for drug law violations. Additionally, since most of both staff and inmates are residents of the Washington metropolitan area, they reflect the diverse range of values and life experiences that characterize the area.

The detention facility processes more than 80,000 inmates per year, back and forth to courts, other jurisdictions and the correctional complex at Lorton. This is accomplished with precision and comprehensive security measures conducted by dedicated correctional officers who toil in an often harsh and thankless profession. The misfortunes of a small minority of the jail's staff are not reflective of most of the work force. Incidents featured in The Post's series should be viewed as isolated and rare.

The community needs to know that in spite of managing an institution that was built to house far fewer people, and in spite of a shrinking pool of readily available staff, we have not experienced any notable security breaches. Furthermore, while any drug use by staff is unacceptable, this social ill is not any more apparent at the jail than elsewhere. We do fully understand that our standards must exceed those of the general community, and we make every effort with our limited resources to ensure that each person within the department is drug free and working to optimum capacity.

The public should also know that corrections staff have the same constitutional rights as other members of society, and that rampant dismissal of people based on unverified information would result in court decisions to reinstate those people and at great expense to the District.

Realizing how important it is to maintain staff productivity, the department has instituted several programs to promote improved efficiency. An employee assistance program has been in operation for more than two years, and a new exercise, wellness and stress management program is being developed. Participation is voluntary for all programs.

The department has a reputation for outstanding work as exemplified by its numerous awards from associations, such as the National Institute of Corrections, the American Correctional Association and the District's own coveted Hagy award for outstanding public service by city employees.

The Department of Corrections will continue to move forward by working with staff, other District agencies and labor unions to identify and address critical issues, and we will continue to strive for excellence in the delivery of correctionalservices. WALTER B. RIDLEY Director D.C. Department of Corrections Washington