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Correctional Service Officer


Description

There are many types of criminals, from multiple murderers to arsonists to people who cheat on their taxes. Regardless of the severity of the crime, however, anyone in prison is entitled to the protective services offered by correctional service officers.

These officers, also known as prison guards, work in prisons and other correctional facilities, monitoring people who've been convicted of a criminal offense. They maintain order throughout the prison, and are on duty day and night, holidays and weekends. They watch inmates at work and at play, keep an eye on them during meal times and escort them to trials or on temporary leaves. They also patrol areas, checking doors, windows and locks. They also do occasional checks of inmates' cells. They keep detailed reports about everything that goes on in the prison, in case they need to defend themselves, a fellow officer or an inmate in court.

The drawback to this position is the possibility of riot, fire, fights or escape attempts. Correctional service officers must therefore always be on guard, and prepared for any emergency. They should be ready to intervene in a dangerous situation - they should be calm, strong individuals who can command respect and obedience from all types on inmates, from mild-mannered first offenders to those trapped by a life of crime.

The positive side can often outweigh the negative, however. Many correctional service officers get to know inmates, and can assist them in learning new, appropriate behaviors through role modeling. They can make recommendations about offenders to the parole board and have a direct impact on the release of improved inmates, or the continued seclusion of those they consider dangerous. They also work with young offenders, and do what they can to ensure those troubled youths don't grow up to become adult offenders.
 
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San Joaquin Valley College

San Joaquin Valley College - A Private Junior College.

Programs Offered:
  • Degree - Criminal Justice: Corrections

 

 



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$22,010
 
Median Salary:
$32,670
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$52,370

  Interests and Skills  
Correctional service officers are mature, reliable people. They have a clean record, are patient, as well as motivated. They have excellent communication skills, and listen and write as well as they talk. They enjoy rising to a challenge, and are physically fit with a lot of stamina. They are leaders, who are non-judgmental and are open to many types of people from many backgrounds. They work well in a team, have good levels of concentration, and are confident in themselves and their abilities.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Monitor prisoners in a variety of locations (recreation facilities, dining halls, cell blocks)
  • Observe the conduct and behavior of inmates to prevent disturbances and escapes
  • Prepare discipline reports and case reports
  • Conduct searches of inmates, cells, vehicles and buildings
  • Accompany inmates to courtrooms, hospitals and worksites
  • Advise parole board on different offenders' behavior
  • The typical day for a correctional service officer involves a lot of watching, listening and waiting for an action that requires a reaction from them. They may have to subdue an inmate or transport them from cell to cell, to a courthouse, or to locations within the prison. They write reports about daily actions of inmates and officers. They don't get to travel, unless accompanying a prisoner to trial.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Correctional service officers work in tough situations. The prisons and correctional institutions where they work can be dangerous. Violent behavior, drug abuse and alcohol consumption can elicit the worst behavior from the inmates, who may be verbally and physically abusive. However, dangerous situations are rare, and most of the time they work in dining halls, outdoor recreation centers and monitoring cell blocks.
  • They are employed by either the federal or state correctional services. They work in shifts, often at night or on weekends and holidays. They work in a team of other officers and supervisors.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Correctional services officers can go on to become supervisors, customs officers, police officers, and security guards in the private sector. With additional education and training they can become lawyers, human rights activists, counselors and social workers.
 

  Educational Paths  
The path to becoming a correctional service officer requires a high school diploma, some experience working with people in crisis and usually some level of postsecondary studies. Those individuals with a college diploma in correctional services, law and security, or a university degree in law, criminology, psychology or sociology may have a better chance at securing employment in this field.

Individuals also need to pass a medical examination, a physical assessment test, have a valid CPR and first aid certificate and a valid driver's license. Training will be offered to successful applicants.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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