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Kerri Haacke

John Minichino

Criminal Justice 1010

Monday, April 24, 2017

Corrections OfficersHistorically and Today


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Corrections officers are a vital part of our corrections and prison systems we know today.

They offer the protection and regulation that is needed for a correctional or prison facility to run

smoothly and efficiently. There are a lot of debates and controversial issues that arise

surrounding correctional officers, but Id like to discuss Correctional Officers as an entity, like

when did Correctional Officers first become a role for peace officers? What is the history behind

the role as a Correctional Officer? What are the different kinds of correctional officers and their

roles in the facilities? Most of all, what does the future look like for Correctional Officers and the

prisons/correctional facilities they work in?

The role of a correctional officer today in Americas prison system is vastly

misunderstood. Superintendents, inmates, family members, and even the officers themselves

struggle to understand the exact nature of their role in the prison or correctional facility.

Conflicting representation of correctional officers in todays popular culture is in large part, to

blame. Americans, as a society, feel grateful to have prison and correctional facility staff to

ensure our safety from convicted felons, yet we hope that the prisoner on our television screens

will manage to outsmart the stupid guard keeping watch.

The first prison established was that of Canon Citys prison in Canon City, Colorado; it

was built in 1871 and its staff was minimal. The Colorado Territorial Prison employed just one

warden and six prison guards called turnkeys. The guards were called that because their job

consisted of little more than locking and unlocking the prisoners cells. The position made only

about $25.00 per month and required no education or physical competency; most guards were

over 70 years of age at the time. For many years, the turnkeys took a more casual approach to

their role in the prison, frequently not wearing the proper uniform or maintaining their

professional appearance. While the informality of the Canon Citys prison employees violates the
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standards of todays correctional officers, greater requirement for regulation was superfluous in

that time, since the citys population was a mere 229. Most of the convicts outside the walls were

well-known for their crimes and had few resources to escape the community. At the turn of the

century, Colorados populous passed 500,000 and Canon City had itself burgeoned, requiring

much larger prisons and in addition requiring more responsibility from the prison guards.

By the 1940s, the discussion about improving prison guards began to emerge and

focused primarily on regulating the hiring practices. Criminologists suggested implementing

salaries instead of hourly wage plans to encourage productivity and attract more qualified

candidates for the roles. The Criminologists also recommended to add a rehabilitative nature to

being a Correctional officer to encourage more of a social-service minded applicant pool.

By the 1950s the hiring requirement had little or no change since the opening of the first

prison, however, prison protocol grew stricter, allowing guards more control over their inmates.

Guards escorted prisoners to and from their cells, forcing them to hold their arms across their

chest while moving around the facility. Casual conversation was strongly discouraged between

inmates and guards, but if an inmate wanted to talk to a guard, he was required to address the

guard formally by his paramilitary rank. Colorados penitentiaries were hailed nationally for their

implements of the honor system in prison labor camps. Today, a great deal has changed since the

first established prison, there is a physical training course that the correctional officers must pass.

Correctional officers, like police officers, are required to take a training course in order to

become a Correctional Officer. The requirements are much stricter today than they were

historically because the prisons want not only physically capable individuals, but also individuals

that can handle the job psychologically as well, they want to make sure that with the given

power, the applicant will not abuse that power.


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Correctional officers rank and roles vary from state to state, but most of them go off of a

paramilitary ranking system, similar to police officers, with a few differences. The first and top

rank in a prison system is the Warden or Superintendent. Prison wardens/superintendents

supervise and manage the prison or correctional facilities. A warden/superintendent must

understand correctional administration, operations, and security procedures, maintain records and

supervise inmates. Wardens and Superintendents would be considered the brains of the facility as

they plan, administer, organize, monitor, control, and evaluate all functions that go on in the

prison. In addition, he/she holds the top supervisory position over all correctional officers and

other personnel at the prison.

The second Correctional officer rank, again is varied by state, would be an Assistant

Warden. The Assistant-Warden carries out the requests and administration that is requested and

ordered by the Warden. Essentially holds a lot of the same responsibilities of the warden, except

the rank and power of that rank. The Assistant-Warden will also generate reports for the Warden

to look over then help him/her plan out actionable steps to improve something within the prison

or generate funding for the prisons operations, since the prison is owned by the federal and state

government, funding is limited.

The third Correctional officer rank would be a Lieutenant, which carries out a slightly

lower rank in the Assistant-Warden but handles things on more of an administrative level for

Correctional Officers. The Lieutenant is typically in charge of other staff on a shift such as the

sergeants, corrections officers, and jailers or yard officers. He/she may also manage civilian staff

that works at the facility. The role has an overall responsibility for coordinating shift activities,

security procedures, and administrative reports to the Assistant-Warden.


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The fourth Correctional officer rank would be the Sergeant, which supervise other

correctional officers and jailers in a specific part of the prison. Sergeants will also perform a lot

of the same duties as the correctional officers, such as transporting and securing prisoners and

responding to emergencies that occur in the prison. Sergeants also investigate rule violations of

correctional officers, inmate conflicts, and resolve problems that interfere with day-to-day

operations. The sergeant also is responsible for making sure that the prisons supply of weaponry

is remains in good working order. Sergeants would be considered the first line of supervisors to

Correctional officers in a prison system.

Lastly, the base of the Correctional Officer rank would be the Correctional Officer. The

role of the Correctional Officer is to maintain security within the institution and oversee the

health and safety of staff and inmates. Correctional officers will physically patrol the prison and

visually inspect cell unites, the prison yard, buildings within the prison, prisoners, and the

property of prisoners to ensure the welfare, safety, and security of the on-goings that take place at

the prison. Correctional Officers are the front line for everything that goes on within a prison,

from administering civilians to supervising the lunch room at the prison. Being in a Correctional

Officer position is the riskiest rank to be in because they are at the highest risk for being attacked

by inmates since they are constantly patrolling the areas where inmates are.

So, what does it the future hold for Correctional Officers in the future? Well, the future

does reflect a potentially promising future if youre a Correctional Officer. With all the changes

in the laws and the new implemented laws on immigration, it is bound to see a drastic rise in the

need for more correctional facilities and prisons. With the rise of those facilities, would render

new job opportunities for correctional officers to be employed and trained. The federal prison

population has been on a downward trend for nearly a decade when it was decided by the
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government to phase out the use of some private correctional facilities. However, recently, it was

announced by the president that there would be support of more private facilities and prisons.

However, with the current incarceration population reaching over 1.5 million at any given time,

it doesnt show that theres any slowing down for the demand on the need of trained Correctional

Officers. Between the years of 2006 and 2016, the employment of correctional officers was

forecasted to rise by 16%, faster than the average for all occupations. Going into the future, with

all the changes that will be taking place with the prisons and correctional facilities; looks like the

demand to train and employ more correctional officers will go up. Layoffs for correctional

officers are extremely rare due to the increasing population of incarcerated offenders and new

facilities going up for prisons.

In my research, I have grown to understand and respect the role of correctional officers as

well as Police Officers as I feel that their jobs in a way go hand in hand. Correctional Officers

are a necessary part of the criminal justice system in the fact that they are there to keep everyone

safe. The Correctional Officers are there to make sure that no one has anything that they

shouldnt as well as make sure that no one gets special treatment. They are there to keep their

fellow guards safe as well as the inmates. I feel that as a career the job market is just going to

keep growing the same with Police Officers. The crime rate across the nation doesnt seem to be

slowing down any and as the Officers retire there will be a job opening to be filled. Looking back

at how the correctional facilities first started out to where they are now is quite interesting. To

see where we came from as a society to where we are now in ways though is also somewhat

disturbing. As I mentioned at the beginning we depend on the Police Officers and the

Correctional Officers to keep us safe and keep that criminals where they should be, however

when it comes to movies and TV shows we, as a society hope and anticipate them getting hurt,
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maimed or even killed. We dont flinch when we see things like this on the TV because we have

become accustomed to the violence. We have become almost numb to the fact that things like

this happen in the real life and each new shift could be their last. I feel like that Correctional

Officers dont get the respect and appreciation that they deserve in the public eye. I have a few

friends and family members that have worked or currently work as Correctional Officers and it is

not easy. Their loved ones worry about them coming home safe at the end of their shifts but they

know that they are doing what they need to do to keep everyone safe in and out of the facility.

However, they know that if something were to happen to them in their work they would be taken

care of. As an employee of the government and or state they are given benefits as well as

retirement which may vary depending on the facility or state department that they are employed

in. I am a full supporter of law enforcement in all varieties of life as they put their lives on the

line to ensure the safety and well-being of the rest of the country.

There has recently been a lot of negative controversy surrounding law enforcement in

general, not just in the Correctional system. I find that the community is starting to support their

local law enforcement less and less, which is sad. We, as a society will put them down for being

too forward with their power hunger, but they will be the first to answer the call when those

people need help or are in trouble. I think the community should be more supportive of our local

law enforcement both in the city as well as the correctional system. I feel like theyre not

appreciated nearly as much as they should be.


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Citations:

1. Inc., MTR At CareerPlanner.com. "Correctional Officers." Correctional Officers Jobs

and Job Outlook. N.p., 10 Jan. 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.


2. College, Colorado. "Corrections Officers." Past, Present, Prison. Colorado College,

05 Aug. 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.


3. Bryant Smith, Efficiency vs. Reform in Prison Administration, Journal of

American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology 11 (1921): 588.

4. Tracy, Sarah J., Myers, Karen K. and Scott, Clifton W. , 'Cracking Jokes and Crafting

Selves: Sensemaking and Identity Management Among Human Service Workers ',

Communication Monographs, 73:3, 283 308

5. Gains, Larry K., and Roger Leroy Miller. CJ 1010 Criminal Justice for the Salt Lake

Community College. 2013 ed. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.