Corrections classification officers play a crucial role in upholding the law and keeping order inside prisons, detention centers and penitentiaries. Though corrections classification officers have duties that are similar to those of a corrections officer, their role also focuses on classifying inmates according to the prison's classification system. Classifying prisoners is an important job that determines how and where inmates will live in the prison system.
A corrections classification officer is responsible for supervising and enforcing discipline among inmate populations in state and federal prisons, reformatories and penitentiaries. Some of their job duties include providing counseling to inmates, supplying recommendations for inmate employment and education, ensuring that inmates are given adequate housing and facilitating rehabilitation programs for inmates. Officers also conduct classification procedures for inmates who enter and leave prison. Classification responsibilities could include gathering statistical data on prisoners, interrogating inmates and working on classification cases that involve protective custody.
Corrections classification officers must have a high school diploma. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons requires a bachelor's degree for entry-level correctional positions and up to three years of work experience. In addition, new officers employed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons must complete 120 hours of training at their educational facility in Glynco, Georgia. However, all non-federal correctional officers must attend a local or state training academy that teaches prison regulations and operations, as well as custody and security procedures. After the conclusion of their formal training, correctional officers also receive on-the-job training on the use of firearms, self-defense tactics, legal restrictions and interpersonal communication. (See Resources.)
Corrections classifications officers must be highly proficient in operating firearms, subduing prisoners and self-defense. Officers must always be alert, have quick reflexes and be able to effectively handle disturbances and hostage situations. Other skills required for corrections classification officers include knowledge of classification legal issues, interviewing and interrogation techniques, project management and excellent writing and oral communication abilities. Officers should also have counseling skills or experience working in social services.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a correctional officer in May 2008 was $38,380. Salaries ranged from $25,300 for wages in the lowest 10th percentile to $64,110 for wages in the highest 10th percentile. Federal officers earned an average of $50,830, while state officers earned an average of $38,850. The median salary for local government officers was $37,510.
With additional experience, corrections classification officers can advance to a sergeant position or role that supervises and trains other corrections classification officers. Officers who exhibit talent and ambition can also work toward assuming a warden position. Other career paths available to correctional officers are a probation officer, corrections treatment specialist and parole officer. Job growth for corrections officers is expected to be above average and increase by 9 percent between 2008 and 2018.
- Photo Credit prison image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com
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