Welcome to our correctional officer job description page. In this article we will take a look at correctional officer jobs, and what being a correctional officer is all about. Correctional officers are also often known as detention officers. For starters this type of work can be very stressful and hazardous. Officers in this field are at high risk for non-fatal on the job injuries. A large majority of these jobs are in local and state government jails and prison. This is a growing job field where opportunities are expected to grow.
Correctional Officer Job Description
The job of a correctional officer is to help maintain inmate accountability along with security at the facility. By maintaining order officers are expected to prevent assaults, disturbances, and escapes. Unlike police officers correctional officers have no law enforcement abilities outside of the buildings where they are employed.
In addition to jails correctional officers are also responsible for security in pretrial facilities. These facilities house individuals who are awaiting trial or have been arrested; along with those who have been sentenced to jail time, penitentiary, or reformatory because they have been convicted of a crime.
As new offenders are convicted and others are released the population inside of a jail is constantly churning. In the course of any given year correctional officers will process roughly 13 million offenders. Offenders spending time in county jails are typically sentenced to a year or less of time, while those in state and federal prison are usually serving a sentence of a year or more.
Regardless of whether a correctional officer is working in a pretrial facility or a state penitentiary they will be the ones responsible for enforcing rules and regulations. Officers make sure offenders obey rules and are orderly by observing and monitoring them during the course of their work assignments. It is not unusual for officers to search inmate cells looking for contraband including drugs, weapons, and other items inmates are not supposed to possess. Correctional officers are also responsible for periodically checking cells, and other areas of the facility for hidden weapons, drugs, and other possible hazards. Additionally officers will also inspect locks, vent covers, doors, gates, windows and cell bars for evidence of tampering. Lastly, officers will also inspect letters sent from visitors to inmates for prohibited items.
Officers are also responsible for writing reports and communicating orally about inmates behavior and the quality and quantity of work performed. In cases of disturbances, fights, violations of rules, breaches or any other bad behavior officers will be responsible for reporting these occurrences. If and when crimes are committed, or if an inmate were to escape, the officer responsible for the supervision of that particular cell-block would help in the investigation or search of that particular inmate. Officers monitoring cell-blocks with direct supervision do so while unarmed. These officers are supplied communication equipment to call for help if needed. Officers often work alone or in pairs monitoring cell-blocks, there could be as many as 100 inmates per officer.
In the most secure prison facilities, which house the most dangerous offenders, officers will typically keep an eye on inmates from a central control tower which uses cameras and TV monitors. In these high security environments inmates may not have contact with anyone for extended periods of time, and are permitted to leave their cells for showers, and exercise only. Often the doors to their cells and the facilities which they use will be controlled by officers in the central control tower. Correctional officers are also responsible for escorting inmates between prison and medical facilities, courthouses, and other locations where they may need to go.
Correctional Officer Work Environment and Hours
Working in prison or pretrial facility can be extremely stressful and dangerous. It is not uncommon for correctional officers to be injured through confrontations with prisoners and inmates. Officers have some of the highest rates of injuries while on the job. Correctional officers may work outdoors, indoors or move between the two periodically. Depending on the facility where officers work they may have well lit, well ventilated, temperature controlled environments; however some facilities may be old, hot, noisy, stuffy and overcrowded with inmates.
Correctional officers can expect to work 40 hour work weeks, which consist of 5 day work weeks, and 8 hour work days. Officers work on rotating shifts since prisons and jails require supervision all hours of the day and all days of the year. This schedule means shifts need to be covered at nights, weekends and on holidays; because of this demanding schedule it is not uncommon for officers to have to work overtime which they are paid for.
Thanks for visiting our correctional officer job description page. You can find more great criminal justice career information at our website, so please feel free to look around.