Prison officer

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Prison officer
Finnish female prison guard.jpg
A Finnish prison officer
Occupation
NamesCorrectional officer, corrections officer, detention officer
Activity sectorsLaw enforcement
Description
CompetenciesSee Working environment
Education requiredSee Training
 
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Prison officer
Finnish female prison guard.jpg
A Finnish prison officer
Occupation
NamesCorrectional officer, corrections officer, detention officer
Activity sectorsLaw enforcement
Description
CompetenciesSee Working environment
Education requiredSee Training

A prison officer (UK[1] and Ireland,[2] and the official English title in Denmark,[3] Finland,[4] and Sweden[5]), also known as corrections officer (New Zealand,[6] US[7][8]), correctional officer (Australia,[9] Canada,[10][11][12] Jamaica,[13] and US[14]), or detention officer (US[15]), is a person responsible for the supervision, safety and security of prisoners in a prison, jail, or similar form of secure custody. Historically, terms such as jailer (also spelled jailor or gaoler), jail guard, prison guard, and turnkey[16] have also been used.

Prison officers 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.

Contents

Duties

Prison officers maintain order and prevent disturbances, assaults, and escapes by supervising activities and work assignments of inmates. Officers routinely search inmates and their living quarters for contraband such as weapons or drugs, settle disputes between inmates, and enforce discipline. Prison officers also inspect the facilities for unsanitary conditions, fire hazards, and any evidence of tampering or damage to locks, bars, grilles, doors, and gates. Officers screen mail and visitors for prohibited items. [17]

Working environment

A prison officer's job is often considered dangerous with inmate confrontations resulting in many injuries a year. A prison officer's working environment can vary considerably with some prison facilities being modern, well lit, air-conditioned, and ventilated while others such as San Quentin State Prison are old, overcrowded, and noisy. Prison officers often work on a rotating shift basis including weekends and holidays. Since many prison facilities have officer shortages, prison officers are often required to work additional shifts. Having to put in extra hours can result in fatigue, low morale, and family-related problems. Prison officers may also get burned out because their work is unpredictable, identity-threatening, tragic, incongruous, and stigmatized.[18]

Because a prison, or similar detention facility is a controlled environment, inmates will often attempt to disrupt it. Various remedies for such disruptions, including physical and less-than-lethal force, isolation and less-lethal weaponry are often adopted depending on the type of correctional facility and its jurisdiction. Due to multiple disruptions and challenging work environments prison officers often face high levels of stress, burnout, health problems, high turnover rates, low life expectancy, and decreased quality of life. One US study gives prison officers a life expectancy of 59 years, compared to the US national average of 75 years.[19]

The duties a prison officer carries out will often depend on the type of facility in which they work. For instance, a prison officer at a minimum security facility may be responsible for casually supervising inmates as they work or participate in treatment programs while at a maximum security institution a prison officer would have duties involving the regular use of restraints, weapon searches, and tactical response.

Prison officers are also expected to control their emotions, remain impersonal, and engage in activities that are often conflicting. For example, they are expected to respect and nurture, yet suspect and discipline inmates and have an us–them mentality.[20]

Training

Prison officer 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:

Many jurisdictions have also, in recent years, expanded basic training to include:

See also


Notes

  1. ^ Her Majesty's Prison Service – Career Information. Retrieved 29 November 2011
  2. ^ Irish Prison Service – Recruitment. Retrieved 29 November 2011
  3. ^ The Danish Prison and Probation Service – General Information, page 5 Retrieved 2012-07-07
  4. ^ The Training Institute for Prison and Probation Services, Finland Retrieved 29 November 2011
  5. ^ Swedish Prison and Probation Service – Fact Sheet. Retrieved 29 November 2011
  6. ^ New Zealand Department of Corrections – Job Description. Retrieved 29 November 2011
  7. ^ Indeed: Corrections Officer Salary Retrieved 2012-07-07
  8. ^ Yukon Department of Justice website Retrieved 29 November 2011
  9. ^ Queensland Corrective Services – Employment Information Retrieved 2012-07-07
  10. ^ Correctional Service Canada – Correctional Officer job profile Retrieved 29 November 2011
  11. ^ Ontario Correctional Services – Careers Retrieved 29 November 2011
  12. ^ British Columbia Corrections – Employment Information Retrieved 29 November 2011
  13. ^ Jamaica Department of Correctional Service – Roles of Correctional Officer Retrieved 29 November 2011
  14. ^ US Department of Labour – Correctional Officer job statistics Retrieved 29 November 2011
  15. ^ FBI Atlanta: Former Fulton County Detention Officer Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison Retrieved 2012-07-07
  16. ^ Ontario Provincial Secretary and the Inspector of Prisons' report on the Toronto Central Prison Retrieved 29 November 2011
  17. ^ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition
  18. ^ U.S. Department of Justice, Addressing Correctional Officer Stress: Programs and Strategies. (PDF) . Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  19. ^ Abstract: Reducing Staff and Inmate Stress, F Cheek  ; M D S Miller Corrections Today, Volume:44, Issue:5, Dated: October 1982, Pages:72–76, 78, National Criminal Justice Reference Service
  20. ^ Tracy, S. J. (2005). "Locking up emotion: Moving beyond dissonance for understanding emotion labor discomfort." Communication Monographs, 72, 261–283.[dead link]

References