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Starting Career in Corrections

 

Subscribe to Starting Career in Corrections 82 posts, 51 voices

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Isr DT Instructor 108 posts

Eh the book thing I suppose is good to wet your feet before the academy I suppose, but nothing prepares you for all the games and craziness you’ll encounter. The only thing is experiencing it first hand and adapting to it.

 
Correction_officer jamestown0509 313 posts

I really don’t think reading a book about what’s it’s like being a CO is the answer. One day you can come in at 7am and by 7:15 the crap hits the fan, CERT team has to respond. You never can fully preplan for things like that by reading a book. Yes, it gives you some insight into corrections but as Commander and I know it takes real OJT to learn to be a good CO..

 
Remle-riflepg irish assassin 286 posts

Sad thing is no two inmates are exactly the same. So writing a guide to anything of that nature would be vauge at best. Inmates and their tricks are constantly changing.

 
Isr DT Instructor 108 posts

No kidding you’re hawking your own book for dealing with inmates? Outstanding business sense. BUT understanding inmates is easy you could get a book from a lot of C.O.’s perspectives just from this forum.

 
Male_user C.O. Koonce 2 posts

Dear Blade Runner, As a retired correction officer of the New York City Department of Correction, I suggest that anyone thinking about becoming a correction officer should read the book, Correction Officer’s Guide to Understanding Inmates by Larone Koonce. it is available at coguidebook.com or on Amazon.com. The book will give you a good idea of what it’s like to be a correction officer. Learn what corrections is all about before stepping foot into a jail or prison. The information contained in this book will help you avoid some of the pitfalls of the Job. It will give you tips and techniques to use when dealing with a range of challenges. If you know anyone that is a correction officer, get them Correction Officer’s Guide to Understanding Inmates. It’s the best thing you can do for him or her.

 
Male_user C.O. Koonce 2 posts

As a retired correction officer of the New York City Department of Correction, I suggest that anyone thinking about becoming a correction officer should read the book, Correction Officer’s Guide to Understanding Inmates by Larone Koonce. it is available at coguidebook.com or on Amazon.com. The book will give you a good idea of what it’s like to be a correction officer. Learn what corrections is all about before stepping foot into a jail or prison. The information contained in this book will help you avoid some of the pitfalls of the Job. It will give you tips and techniques to use when dealing with a range of challenges. If you know anyone that is a correction officer, get them Correction Officer’s Guide to Understanding Inmates. It’s the best thing you can do for him or her.

 
Correction_officer jamestown0509 313 posts

Melodeth with respect to the the uniforms that depends on the facility. In ours they paid for dry cleaning. If you take the uniforms yourself just have them use light starch or none at all, just pressed. Besides, after a full day at work your uniform will get dirty very fast. I usually changed mine every two or three days (we had 7 sets) unless we had a fight then changed the same day at end of shift. BTW- I don’t recommend wearing your uniform to and from work, if you have a locker change into civilian clothes. It took me 18 months to get a locker so I had to leave my civilian clothes hanging in a corner. My recommendation on the job is LISTEN and learn. Always ask questions to a seasoned officer before you do something. Stay safe.

 
Correction_officer jamestown0509 313 posts

If you are talking about NYSDOCS I assume you are either in the academy in Albany or about to graduate. From the state COs that I know they say that all new DOCS officers are trained at Sing Sing first then transfer to other prisons. Some of the COs that work part-time for us had to wait almost two years to be able to transfer to the Western NY part of the state. Stay safe.

 
Male_user CO-candidate 5 posts

Hello to everyone – I am 52 years old and a Suffolk County, Long Island resident of NY. I started the NYS COP processing. I work in the NYC subways. I was to join the NYPD years ago in the 80’s in my mid 20’s and that got messed up. So here I am – can anyone help by telling me how this job really is, and how it will be, they claim they start us at Sing Sing or Greenhaven

 
Male_user melodeth 2 posts

Thanks for the info

 
E-tivity-logo140x70 GeorgeBooth 14 posts

You know what a nice pressed uniform tells me if I’m an inmate? Fresh Meat.
Melo, you have bigger things to worry about. Don’t be nervous, don’t look like you’re nervous, don’t act nervous, don’t tell anyone you are nervous. Inmates are people just like you and I, they want to be treated with respect.
Don’t call them by their first name, don’t ask their charges, don’t ask another officer what their charges are. Your job is to make sure they go from point a to b without incident. If you say you will do something, do it. If you don’t know, don’t make something up, tell them you’ll get back to them. Find out where the coffee machine is, and bring money to contribute to the coffee fund! =)

Chance are you won’t be alone for a good month or so, so listen and ask questions. When an inmate walks up when you are tlaking to another CO, stop talking. Read these forums from front to back, there are hundreds of years of combined experience in here.

 
Male_user melodeth 2 posts

I begin my training with my FTO tomorrow morning. 12 hour shifts here, it will be interesting as I’m used to an 8 hour work day. I work for a county jail, and my academy doesn’t begin until October. I’m a little bit nervous, but what has really been nerve wracking is trying to get my damn uniform looking perfect. So, I ask, for those of you with 100% polyester shirts/pants how do you clean and iron them? Take them to a dry cleaner?

 
Correction_officer jamestown0509 313 posts

George I absolutely agree. We are required to attend corrections academy because of state regulations. Having said that, such training is minimal to say the least, as you are well aware officers learn on the job.In that light our new probees are assigned on their nights after school to work in the jail and on weekends when school is dismissed. The most important officer in my opinion is the FTO. The FTO makes or breaks a new recruit. It should be the job of the FTO to encourage a new recruit to not only do the basic corrections job but to start thinking ahead and pre-planning their day.

 
Male_user commander 277 posts

Very well put George. A lot of information in your posting. Right on spot with all you said.

 
E-tivity-logo140x70 GeorgeBooth 14 posts

T.rivers, allow me to elaborate.

CO school doesn’t give you the one degree you need the most. That’s a psychology degree. Dealing with hundreds of different attitudes, back-grounds, emotions, social standings and simple inmate hierarchy and existence. Eager new COs want to change the world and most think they have a good bead on what’s going down. I had it put to me ever so delicately by a Sgt. one time: “Mr. Booth I was jumping out of helicopters in SE Asia when you were still pissing your diaper, so you can take what I have to say and learn the hard way or the easy way, regardless it makes no difference to me..”

Inmates have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to find your weakness, and they are pretty damn good at it too. You have 8 hours a day to catch up, control and comprehend what those inmates are up to. Also in that time you have to bury family issues, children issues, sick parent issues, bills, house-work, etc, etc, etc, etc…. and focus on the one thing that keeps you alive and all of your brothers and sisters alive. Watch, listen…. All you have to do it watch and listen, the rest falls into it-self. Most of all, your word is everything, if you don’t know, don’t ever tell an inmate something incorrect to blow them off… they will still be there the next day.

Some days you are the babysitter, some days the referee, or witness, some days the defendant and others the plaintiff. Your day will be a never ending cycle of being the consoler, secretary, legal aid, messenger, enforcer, dictator, errand boy, cool-guy… one thing remains; that inmate still thinks you are the enemy and regardless of your best intentions an inmate will try and compromise you or make it appear he has compromised you. The problem new COs face is called reality. Perhaps since you have this “idea” of prisons and corrections, it could be worse for you, because once you experience the reality of jail and prison life, it may be too much for you.

My suggestion to you is speak with someone who has done this for a long time and listen… no questions, just listen to what they tell you.

 
Correction_officer jamestown0509 313 posts

I think you have to be a special person to work in corrections as a career. It’s encouraging to hear that you are looking forward to being a CO. If you haven’t done so make a visit to the state facility or county jail for a tour and stay there for a few hours on the tiers, dorms, etc. Corrections is a career, not just a job so you must be willing to stay there for years because most state and county facilities have a 20 to 25 year retirement plan. As others have said in the forum corrections can be very challenging but I always liked the fact that no two days were ever the same, always something happening or going on so the actual shift goes right by. Of course midnight shifts are more difficult because all the inmates are sleeping except the officer so you have to keep busy doing reports, block or tier checks, log entries, etc.

 
Female_user T.rivers 1 post

George B,
Hello I myslef recently took the CO test in my state, for the state doc. I know one of your last post’s was way back in Jan but I am new. Anyway, You said that the most eager CO’s go first. Why is that? This probably sounds rediculous to some people but even as young as 10 yrs old I can remember wanting to work in the prison system. I guess that would qualify me as eager?… I liked your honesty in your past posts so i thought I would ask the question.

 
Correction_officer jamestown0509 313 posts

Terischa there are constant openings in most county jails and NY State DOC (Department of Corrections). County correction officers have residency requirements, college credit requirments, physical requirements and most require a civil service examination. You can write to the Human Resources Department in each county for a job application with a note asking when the next exam will be available. State DOC jobs are always open, they do pay slightly more than county corrections but you have to attend the DOC academy in Albany, NY (next to the NYS Trooper Academy) after graduation almost every new correction officer is assigned to downstate prisons starting with Sing Sing. It does take about 2 years or more to be moved back to the Syracuse area if you like to live there.

 
Correction_officer jamestown0509 313 posts

Corrections is a career, not a job therefore you have to look at this position with all the pros and cons as something you REALLY want to do for at least 20 to 25 years. There are no layoffs in corrections (at least in NY state because of mandated manpower) so you can plan to be in the career field with confidence. As other officers have said it is very challenging and I think that it takes a special person to do this type of work. Remember that no two days are the same regardless if you work for a county, state or frederal prison. There are countless opportunities in corrections including floor officer, escort officer, court officer escort, booking officer, identification officer, law library officer, recreation officer, and many more including supervisory positions. Listen, learn, ask questions.

 
Female_user pzfamily 2 posts

Hello Everyone! I am new to this forum. Currently, I am a student at Liberty University and I am majoring in Criminal Justice. My current course CJUS 320 requires that we interview a Correctional Administrator with at least 20 years experience. I was hoping that someone fitting this description would be able to help me out. Here are the directions for the assignment…….

requires a personal interview with a correctional administrator with at least 20 years experience, where you will develop interview questions to allow you to answer the following: a) “What are the major changes in correctional administration over the last 20 years?” b) “Why have things changed?” c) After ascertaining the primary mission of the specific facility, determine how effective the administrator thinks the institution is in performing its role.

The assignment is due this week so anyone who can help me out I would GREATLY appreciate it!!! Thank you all for serving in such a great capacity we appreciate you! Thanks again for your help.

 
Male_user commander 277 posts

Corrections was a good career for me. I recently retired. I spent 26 years and 2 months at a Maximum Security Prison in Ohio. Involve yourself in all the training you can Include self training, ie; read books watch videos. Become part of special teams, SRT, STG, Honor Guard. But, also, find a good hobby, pursue it. Do not ever forget your beginnings. I retired a Supervisor and I feel confident that the Officers who worked for me would say, I remember where I came from.

 
Male_user Mbuba 4 posts

George,you have given me useful insight into what life is as a correction officer.I am determined to offer my best service as a correction officer.I will see corrections as a way of life and not just ‘a job’.Thanks for the info

 
E-tivity-logo140x70 GeorgeBooth 14 posts

Mbuba,
The good? Job security. Also the bond you will make with your co-workers is nothing short of the bond you have with brothers and sisters in the military if you have served.

Please don’t get me wrong Mbuba, some people make fantastic careers in corrections. But for the most part, corrections will eat a person alive and can have lasting affects on their personalities. I don’t think it’s fair to candy coat or glamorize the great things you can do in corrections like saving all the lost souls and converting the evil to saints (insert sarcasm)…. the truth of the matter is alot of your training will be; how to avoid getting stabbed, performing a proper inmate investigation, signs of impending aggression, how to CYA because at one point in your career it will come down to an inmate’s word against yours. One might think your word is golden, but I have seen officers dismissed because like I said, inmates have 24/7 to refine their skills and trade. That “trade” is making your life difficult.

Keep in mind the people in your charge are there because they are the worst society has to offer. Day in and day out you deal with those people. Regardless of how strong you may believe your convictions are, you will take home bits and pieces of your job to your wife, kids and friends. Eventually your friends will abandon you and only your co-workers will be left, then when you get together you generally talk about work the entire time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to talk you out of it, I’m simply telling you what’s on the small print on the back of the brochure.

 
Male_user Mbuba 4 posts

George,thanks for the information.You have certainly told me about the bad and the ugly but what of the good in this profession?

 
E-tivity-logo140x70 GeorgeBooth 14 posts

“I just went for an interview in Virginia to be a correction officer and after the interview my finger prints were taken for background check and i was told it may take up to 3 or 4 weeks before they will call me. Please can any one tell me why it takes that long and what will be the next step after that?”

Mbuba, one key phrase you need to learn is “24/7”.
24/7 is the time an inmate has to find your weakness, to see what makes you tick, to see how he/she can manipulate you. 3 weeks is the short amount of time the facility has to see if you have the mental strength, knowledge, people skills and moral compass to effectively do your job. Some of these people have nothing to lose and seeing the fresh CO for them is a game, an opportunity, a break from the mundane. You will see the very worst humanity has to offer and see things so violent TV could not possibly portray. You get one chance to deal with that before you get a reputation. Back down, panic and your job will become miserable and the inmates will brand you for life and you’ll quit shortly thereafter.

How will you deal with the first time getting sprayed by an inmate? How will you deal with an inmate that clenches his fists infront of you when you tell him his chit is denied. These inmates have become masters of their enviornment and especially of human nature. They can see through you and then some. I would think of the short three weeks as protection for you, these people (facility) will check every aspect of your background and if they feel you can do the job, then congrats, if not, count your blessings and move on. I will say this, impatient and eager COs are usually the first ones to go.

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