Corrections officers play a huge role in the criminal justice system of a country. They maintain order in prisons or rehabilitative institutions in order to keep the general public safe from dangerous criminals. Their main responsibility is to maintain peace and order in prison cells while ensuring everyone observes and follows established regulations and procedures. In other parts of the world, they are also called detention officers and prison officers. Correction officers take full control and responsibility of inmates' security and well-being while doing jail time apart from performing administrative tasks in the institution.
A correctional officer's function is important in the criminal justice system. An officer ensures that these individuals, despite being convicted of crimes or awaiting for decisions for criminal cases, also receive utmost care and support they need while in jail. When needed, corrections officers personally escort inmates when they have to move from one facility to another such as the courthouse to the prison, medical institutions, or even within the premises of the prison when an inmate receives visitors (OOH). In connection with this, correction officers guarantee that inmates follow a certain structure while in prison (Corrections Officer). Typically, they spend most of their time inside corrections facilities from the time an inmate is arrested through trial and incarceration. As the prison officer, they maintain safety and security by avoiding instances of assaults or escapes. As they oversee the everyday tasks and responsibilities of inmates, they ensure that inmates follow rules, complete their work, and can always be located within the premises of the prison facility (OOH).
Correction officers also check inmates for illegal imports such as drugs and weapons, which could start riots within the facility. They also inspect the cells to make certain that windows are kept locked, walls are intact, and that there are no signs of rigging with the window bars or doors that could lead to prison breakouts (OOH). In line with this, officers also check all mails and goods that prisoners receive from visitors to ensure that these do not contain any prohibited items. At the end of the day, prison officers write out reports to document the goings-on within the facility, including the behavior of the inmates during the day and forms of rule violations committed by any of the inmates.
Another responsibility of correction officers is to ensure that inmates receive proper counseling, rehabilitation, and treatment programs for various health problems that they might have upon entering the facility (Stinchcomb & McCampbell, 2008, p. 27). In addition to all these physical and mental health programs, corrections officers also come up with educational opportunities for inmates who intend to pursue their education so that after completing their jail time, they may have sources of livelihood instead of depending on the government for support (OOH).
Correctional officers always have to maintain an alert stance to ensure that he or she sees what is happening within the facility. They typically work eight hours a day, five days in week. Because the prison facility must be guarded 24 hours daily, corrections officers usually work on rotating shifts with other officers. They may even have to work on weekends and holidays when the need arises (Roufa). The job environment is oftentimes stressful and dangerous as they are exposed to hardened and dangerous criminals, which sometimes lead to confrontations with prisoners. Despite the dangers that accompany the job, there are still those who work dedicatedly on their responsibilities for the protection of the public as well as the inmates.
"Corrections officer." (n.d.). Portland State University. Retrieved from http://online.ccj.pdx.edu/ccj-careers-resources/criminal-justice-resources/research/corrections-officer/
Occupational Outlook Handbook [OOH]. What correctional officers do. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/correctional-officers.htm#tab-2
Roufa, T. (n.d.). Career profile: Corrections officer. About.com. Retrieved from http://criminologycareers.about.com/od/Career_Profiles/a/Career-Profile-Corrections-Officer.htm
Stinchcomb, J. B., & McCampbell, S. W. (2008). Jail leaders speak: Current and future challenges to jail operations and administration. Retrieved from https://www.bja.gov/Publications/Jail_Focus_Group_Report.pdf