Prison snipers, also known as prison tower snipers or prison tower sharpshooters, work as part of the correctional structure within a prison. Prison snipers are correctional officers who have been trained to use their sharpshooting skills in case of an emergency in the prison. They observe common activities in the prison yard and may be called upon to shoot and kill inmates during a riot, hostage situation, escape attempt or when an inmate or officer's life is in danger from an attack.
Correctional officers can be assigned to numerous positions, including prison sniper, following the completion of basic academy. In May 2008 the middle 50 percent of correctional officers earned from $29,660 to $51,000. Salaries are somewhat more for employees in the federal system over state and local prisons and jails.
Training in shooting at long distances is a benefit in seeking a position as a prison sniper. In some prisons shooting up to 100 yards is all that is required. In others shots up to 300 yards or more are necessary. Training facilities around the U.S. provide training for two-man sniper teams. Training may lead to greater opportunity in the prison sniper field.
Military experience is sought after in many police, security and correctional jobs. Sniper school in any branch of military provide experience that may lead to assignments as a prison sniper upon hire as a correctional officer. Understanding windage and elevation controls and when to use them are a requirement for any sharpshooter.
Prison snipers are making life or death decisions in nearly every conflict they observe. Decisions are made in a coordinated fashion; however, each prison sniper has some discretion based on training and policy at the prison in when to act. Decisions must be made swiftly and based on clear judgment.