Corrections officer is the term for a uniformed official, responsible for the supervision, safety, and security of prisoners in a prison, jail, or similar form of secure custody. They are responsible for the care, custody, and control of individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial while on remand or who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in a prison or jail. They are also responsible for the safety and security of the facility itself. Most officers are employed by the government of the jurisdiction in which they operate, though some are employed by private companies.
A turnkey of a Paris prison, 19th century
Corrections Officer, Detention Officer,Detention Deputy.
|Competencies||See Working environment|
Terms for the role
The official who is in charge of a specific prison is known by various titles, including: "warden" (US and Canada), "governor" (UK and Australia), "superintendent" (South Asia) or "director" (New Zealand).
Prison officers must maintain order and daily operations of the facility and are responsible for the care, custody, and control of inmates. A correction officer has a responsibility to control inmates who may be dangerous, and that society themselves do not wish to accommodate. An officer must always prevent disturbances, assaults, and escapes by supervising activities and work assignments of inmates. Officers have a responsibility to protect themselves, other officers, inmates, and the public from assault by other inmates. Correctional officers must also protect inmates from harming themselves or committing suicide. An officer must be alert and aware of any and all movement taking place inside the facility. Prevention is one of the key components of an officer's duties. Officers can utilize prevention by routinely searching inmates and their living quarters for potential threats such as weapons, drugs, or other contraband . Officers should remain assertive and in most situations refuse to back down. An officer shall hold offenders who violate facility policy accountable for their actions when rules are violated. This is usually done through on the spot corrections, a formal disciplinary process, or through the legal process in extreme circumstances. Correction officers must take full concern for the health and safety of the facility. Officers check for unsanitary conditions, fire hazards, and/or any evidence of tampering or damage to locks, bars, grilles, doors, and gates. Fire and severe weather drills may be common. Officers may screen all incoming and outgoing mail for select high risk offenders. All prison staff, regardless of position, volunteers, visitors, new court commit, and offenders returning from off ground, are searched prior to entry. This aides in the reduction of contraband being introduced into the facility. These routine searches often employ hand held or walk through metal detectors, and baggage x-ray machines. Under certain instances, a canine, pat/frisk, full strip, and vehicle (if parked on facility grounds) search may be conducted. Correction officers are responsible for transporting inmates to other facilities, medical appointments, court appearances, and other approved locations. In the US, these trips are most often local, but may be across the entire country Correction officers may assist police officers on/off duty depending on their peace officer status and jurisdiction.
Corrections officers' training will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction as well as facility to facility depending on the legislated power given, the nature of the facilities, or even the socioeconomics of the region. Training may be provided by external agencies or at the facility with a peer-group or supervisor instructor.
In North America, standard training usually includes:
- Use of force and restraints (i.e., handcuffs, leg-irons, belly-chains, etc.)
- Weapons (firearms, taser, baton, etc.)
- First aid and CPR
- Report writing
- Giving testimony in court
- Defusing hostility
- Interpersonal communication
- Correction law
- Criminal law
- Criminal procedure law
- Case work and criminal investigations
- Hostage negotiation
- Gang intelligence
Many jurisdictions have also, in recent years, expanded basic training to include:
- Suicide prevention/crisis intervention
- Critical incident stress management
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (U.S.) or Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (Canada)
- Gang awareness and intervention
- Crisis or hostage negotiation
- Drug abuse training
- Rehabilitation programs
- Rapid response training
Most institutions in the United States have a crisis resolution team of some sort, though these vary in name. (I.E., Crisis Resolution Team or CRT, Special Response Team or SRT, Correctional Emergency Response Team or CERT, Crisis and Emergency Respose Team also CERT, Special Security Team or SST, Special Operations And Response Team or SORT). These teams take on a role similar to a Police SWAT team, but are tailored to the prison setting. Though these vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, they typically must pass a very physically demanding course lasting a week or more.
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- Bailiff (Ontario, Canada)
- Correctional Emergency Response Team
- Correctional Service of Canada
- Federal Bureau of Prisons (U.S.)
- Her Majesty's Prison Service (UK)
- Irish Prison Service
- Justizwache (Austria)
- Law enforcement officer
- Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (Ontario, Canada)
- New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
- New Zealand Police Negotiation Team
- Northern Ireland Prison Service
- Punjab Prisons (Pakistan)
- Scottish Prison Service
- Deputy Sheriff (United States)
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- Ontario Provincial Secretary and the Inspector of Prisons' report on the Toronto Central Prison Archived 15 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 29 November 2011
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- The Training Institute for Prison and Probation Services, Finland Retrieved 29 November 2011
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- Indeed: Corrections Officer Salary Retrieved 2012-07-07
- Yukon Department of Justice website Retrieved 29 November 2011
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- British Columbia Corrections – Employment Information Retrieved 29 November 2011
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- Tracy, S. J. (2004). The construction of correctional officers: Layers of emotionality behind bars. Qualitative Inquiry, 10, 509–533.
- Tracy, S. J., Meyers, K., & Scott, C. (2007). Cracking jokes and crafting selves: Sensemaking and identity management among human service workers. Communication Monographs, 73, 283–308.
- Correctional Service of Canada; Correctional Officers and Their First Year: An Empirical Investigation