Corrections Career Guide Resources
The corrections profession
Graduates with a bachelors in criminal justice may be considering a career in corrections. This profession demands a certain person who is adept at diffusing situations among potential violent offenders. Those who have graduated from an online criminal justice program will use the skills learned in these programs to serve a role in federal and state correctional facilities.
Correctional officers utilize a large number of interesting skills specific to this profession. Officers employed in prisons will help maintain order by:
- Making sure inmates obey rules and regulations
- Checking locks, doors and windows for evidence of tampering
- Supervising inmates during work details
- Escorting prisoners from cells to other areas of the facility
- Watching prison yards and fences from towers and gates
- Performing fire and safety inspections
- Settling disputes that arise between prisoners
- Issuing clothing and other materials
- Administering first aid to injured prisoners
- Checking cells for contraband during room inspections.
Statistics on the correctional field: The field of corrections is incredibly rigorous and demanding of its officers. This is a career which necessitates a certain type of person that is excellent at communication and can handle themselves when a dangerous situation arises. In addition to being constantly aware of one’s environment, a correctional officer must work well in conjunction with others so that situations can be diffused quickly.
Corrections for Federal Prisons
Federal prisons are owned and operated by the U.S. government. Those who commit crimes against federal law often go to these institutions. Some crimes that may necessitate being locked up in a federal penitentiary include:
- Violators of immigration laws
- Those who commit felonies on federal property
- Drug traffickers (large scale)
- Those who commit felonies in Washington D.C.
- White collar criminals
- Members of organized crime organizations
- Those who rob a federal bank or institution.
Federal laws and regulations: Federal laws are designed by the government to protect the country as a whole and include all of the country’s states and its territories.
Requirements for employment: Working as an employee for the federal government within the rehabilitative system will be more difficult than working for other facilities. Those employed within a federal prison are required to possess a bachelor’s in criminology and criminal justice and must be physically capable to handle the job.
Corrections for State, county and local prisons
Offenders who commit crimes within a certain jurisdiction that do not carry out a federal crime will be punished in a state, county or local institution.
Differences between state and federal institutions: Many of the more violent criminals are placed in state institutions. These facilities may have areas with high security, which include murderers, rapists, those who commit crimes using handguns and general violent types. While federal penitentiaries will house those who have committed extraordinary crimes, state and local prisons have a wide variety of criminals under their roofs.
Working as a correctional officer
Positions within a correctional facility: The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that correctional officers and jailors occupied more than 450,000 jobs in 2008, and managers of correctional facilities were responsible for almost 44,000 positions. The majority of these were held in state institutions with an average salary of $50,830.
Types of correctional officers: Correctional officers are graded by experience and level of ability. Some may be given more responsibility or have to handle a position in a watchtower.
General population: Working in general population can be incredibly stressful depending on the type of prison and offenders. Some correctional officers are employed in overcrowded facilities while others have a more relaxed atmosphere.
Warden: Wardens make decisions on rules enforced by correctional officers in accordance with federal or state stipulations. All officers must construct written reports to their wardens in order to keep records of what goes on inside the prison. In Michigan, prison wardens are required to have worked for four years in a adult corrections facility and have worked as a shift supervisor for at least two of those years.
Special weapons and tactics (SWAT) officer: These are a special group of officers that came into facilities when needed. SWAT officers are part of teams that help to diffuse situations that may lead to riots.
Correctional officer skills and training
A number of skills and training are a necessity to be employed in this position. These types of abilities are often included as part of the curriculum for a criminology program. Skills that are strictly for those who seek employment within a correctional facility will be provided in programs designed specifically for this type of career.
First aid and CPR: Being able to administer first aid and CPR is important in a prison setting.
Self Defense: Knowing how to defend oneself from armed attacks or several prisoners is a necessity in this line of work.
Hostility diffusion: Since inmates are often grouped together for long periods of time, disputes can occur at the drop of a hat. This is an important skill, as it helps keep violence at a minimum.
Suicide prevention and awareness: Suicide rates can be high in certain facilities and keeping an eye out for signs of self-harm is a valuable skill.
OSHA standards: Prisons will have to comply with OSHA standards like other businesses. Knowledge of the requirements can help to provide prisoners with a suitable atmosphere.
Hostage negotiation: In certain cases, a prisoner will take a roommate or other inmate as hostage. Being able to deal with this type of circumstance is crucial.