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Criminal Justice Articles

What Is Involved in Working in a Correctional Facility

The people who choose to work in corrections have a big responsibility and it needs to be taken seriously.  Correctional facility officers are the ones responsible for keeping daily contact, communication, and openness with the inmates at their facility.  There are certain qualities and criteria that are very important to have when you are considering working in a correctional facility.  They are:

  • Integrity – Without integrity you cannot possibly play an effective role in helping other people rehabilitate and learn better patterns.  You need to hold yourself at a certain level without acting righteous.
  • Firmness – It is important to be neutral when you are a corrections officer.  You cannot show preference to certain inmates and turn your back to the things that they will try.  Most inmates are in a facility to serve their time and go back into society having learned from their mistakes.  That is not always the case though and you need to make sure that you don’t ignore what is happening just because you don’t feel like dealing with it.
  • Polite – Being polite is always a good choice.  Do not abuse your authority position by acting and talking like you are better.  You have a responsibility to lead by example and being degrading is not the type of example that is effective for inmates or anybody else.
  • Professional – As a corrections officer you need to be professional with those that you come into contact with.  There are women that serve as correctional officers in men’s facilities and men that serve as correctional officers in women’s facilities.  Make sure that you stay professional and keep personal attachments and connections out of the equation.  By law, you can be prosecuted for abuse of position if you are involved in activity that is not fitting of the proper conduct with an inmate.
  • Diligent – You need to make sure that you are patrolling and taking care of the inmate areas.  This is important because it helps protect inmates from certain situations that could arise and it keeps order.  Depending on the type of facility that you are an officer in you could have inmates that are in a camp setting where they can roam freely and have no fences all the way to inmates that are behind bars most of the day.  Your amount of duty and attention will vary depending on where you are located.
  • Ethical – There have always been stories about guards who let certain things pass through to inmates that are considered contraband (something they should not have according to regulations).  Sadly, those stories are often true.  As a correctional officer you can only be effective if you are showing inmates that following rules and procedures is important and essential for an effective sentence to be served.   If you put your ethics to the side and don’t follow procedures and regulations, you will get fired and could be subject to penalty charges.
  • Be conscious of prisoner rights – If you are required to do room searches, drug testing, or other activities that actively involve inmates make sure that you are not overstepping your legal boundaries by doing things that you shouldn’t.  Inmates do have certain rights and protections under law.  They are monitored very closely by civil rights organizations and other parties interested in making sure that the system is not abusing those it should be rehabilitating.

Yes, there is a lot of responsibility for those who work in a correctional facility.  It can be a very rewarding and satisfying career if you remember that your job is to help inmates learn the skills to reenter society and have a fresh new start.

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