The correction officer is in charge of monitoring and overseeing persons awaiting trial; officers that work in a prison must oversee those that have been sentenced for crime. The main purpose of a corrections officer is to keep the jail or prison secure. It is also the duty of this professional to hold the inmate accountable for their actions to reduce disturbances, escapes, and assaults. The correction officer has no authority outside of the prison or jail. Wardens hire these professionals to enforce the rules and regulations of the institution. Officers try to maintain order in the facility by monitoring the activities and work assignments of the inmates.
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Corrections Officer Job Responsibilities
Furthermore, often it becomes necessary to search the holding cell of the inmate for contraband. Also, the correction officer is the person that must settle disputes between inmates. Monitoring the institution’s gates, windows, and other areas fall within their responsibility. They must look for signs of tampering. When visitors come, it is the job of the officer to monitor the inmate’s visit. Mail monitoring is also another duty assigned to the corrections officer.
Writing reports is another function of the corrections officer. Frequently, this officer must document any behavior or attacks that are strictly prohibited by the institution. They must reprimand the inmate orally, and the report is taken so that formal action can be taken against the violator. Most officers keep a daily record of the occurrences in the jail or prison. Rules and regulations require the officer to enforce the rules equally. It is crucial that every infraction by an inmate be punished consistently. Failure to adhere to this can lead to problems in the facility.
Additionally, the highest security prisons are referred to as maximum security. This is the facility where the most dangerous criminals are housed. The officer must monitor these individuals from a central control center. There is a closed circuit monitor that allows for continuous viewing of the inmate. The prisoners in these institutions are confined to their cells all the time except for a few daily activities. Showers, visitors, or solitary exercise are the only reasons these inmates are permitted to leave their cell. The job is often stressful and hazardous. Every year a number of corrections officers are injured by inmates. These attacks are serious and can lead to injury or death. Corrections officers work inside and outside. Working conditions involve a hot and noisy facility; thus, a person must be very strong emotionally to handle this position. Also, it is important to have physical stamina for this job. Before becoming a corrections officer, the person will have to pass a physical fitness test. This ensures the person is qualified to work in a prison environment.
Corrections Officer Training and Education Requirements
The corrections officer must first complete a training academy before beginning an assignment. Then, the officer goes through much on-the-job-training to properly prepare them for the job. Each facility has its own requirements regarding education. Many will accept someone with a high school diploma or the equivalent of one. Some may require some college credits. Those who have served in the military are highly desired for these positions. Corrections officer training is provided by the state, federal, or local government. The training is thorough and includes weapons training. New regulations require that trainees go through formal training at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons within the first sixty days of their hire date. Experienced corrections officers can become members of a tactical team that is designed to respond to major problems within the prison or jail.
In conclusion, the corrections officer must be emotionally stable. Confrontations and the stress of the job can be overwhelming at times. It is critical to not let the inmates see an officer vulnerable. The inmates look for weaknesses and will target those that exhibit them. It is important to be able to communicate well both in writing and verbally. Job vacancies are often available in this field. In fact, many prisons experience officer shortages. Some prisons or jails offer new hire incentives for qualified candidates.
Corrections Officer Salary and Wages
Studies in 2008 reflect that the median yearly salary of a corrections officer is $38,000 per year. Those in the middle group earned between $29,000 and $51,000 annually. Top earners in the group make more than $64,000 per year, and the lowest earners in the study make $25,000 or less. Experienced officers may go on to supervisory positions within the jail or prison.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Corrections Officer Certifications
There is no formal certification that is required. Officers must successfully complete the academy, on-the-job-training, and all other training for the position. Physical fitness is an important part of being trained and ready to handle conflict. Other classes will be taken according to guidelines established by the warden and government.
Corrections Officer Professional Associations
There are several groups that a corrections officer can belong to during their career. Corrections U.S.A is one organization that seeks to promote the professionalism of corrections. This group is committed to giving a voice to professionals in this group. Members are able to continue learning and improving the way they perform their jobs.