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Education and Training
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global
Published: 09/08/2014


We have an interesting topic this month: Education and Training. This is an important component to our career and one that often receives very little attention. We worked hard to pass the necessary tests to obtain employment and begin the training academy. However, our educational journey and training does not stop there. Did you ever stop to think that continuing your education and training would be an on-going process? Let’s begin by looking at a working definition for Education and Training.

  1. The act or process of educating or being educated.
  2. The knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process.
  3. A program of instruction of a specified kind or level.
  4. The field of study that is concerned with the pedagogy of teaching and learning.
  5. An instructive or enlightening experience.
(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009.)

Organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient's performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.
( http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/training.html#ixzz3Bn6zHa9O)

You have entered a challenging and rewarding corrections career. However, this field is one that many people cannot endure. To achieve success and ensure you are prepared you will have on-going training in specific areas to maintain annual certifications. During you career you will have to make a decision if you want to obtain rank or are content with your present position. If you want to pursue promotions then additional education and training may be required. I suggest you begin to check the various positions you may be interested in and research what the requirements may be. This can include years of service, minimum education equirements, addition training and/or certifications, and other. I suggest you do not let others influence your decision to look at promotions. This is a decision you will make and may involve family and close friends.

Now just because you choose not to apply for promotion and/or are okay with your present position, this does not prohibit you from working toward continuing your education and completing additional training. You are continuing to build upon your knowledge, skills, and abilities to assist you in your career. Education and training is something you earned and no one can take from you. Being prepared on a daily basis only ensures you will continue to perform your assigned duties in a professional and ethical manner.

As you know, our work area is becoming more formalized and geared toward technology. The latest materials and technological equipment are an eye opener. Now just because you may not have access to this technology does not prohibit you from taking the initiative to stay current with updated technological and corrections information. This is a building block and may assist you with your career. For the most part, this information can be obtained with your fingertips and a computer. Who knows, you may find this a challenge and a new motivator to help boost your corrections and job interests.

Have you taken the opportunity to do an assessment of your career and goals? We should not wait until January of each year to develop our goals for the upcoming year and make a record of them. Once you identify your goals, do you have a plan of action and identified key areas you will need to meet these goals? Also, we must recognize some goals will take longer to accomplish than others and we may have to make some adjustments. I provided some additional comments and tips you can use.

Do you know if your agency provides the opportunity to hold membership in correctional organizations? Is membership reimbursed or do you have to absorb the costs? This is a great opportunity either way to obtain magazine/journals with specific information for your corrections interests. Some of the information can be obtained via the internet and is free. Also, you can consider entering the membership information on your resume and/or promotion application.

Are you familiar with your unit training officer and materials available to you for review? Many times your training department subscribes to various organizations magazine/journal information and belong to various training organizations. Also you can check with your agency and see if there is any training available to you online at no cost.

Are you aware of any conferences at the local, county, state, regional, and federal levels that you may attend? Is this opportunity available and have you checked with your agency on this? Note, this is often discussed when you belong to various organizations.

I provided a list of some recent topics of interest I researched:
  • Reentry Strategies
  • Legal Issues
  • Community Corrections
  • Technology
  • Training Opportunities
  • Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI)
Below I identified six internet sites I found valuable.
  • National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
  • National Institute of Corrections (NICIC)
  • National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
  • www.corrections.com
There may be more training opportunities available to you than you are aware of. Take the initiative to check this information with your agency and find out what is available. Have you ever submitted a request to obtain training and/or attend a conference outside of your department? You can also check with your agency and see if attendance and verification of attendance is acceptable toward annual training. If not, this is okay and you can still participate for professional development. Remember the name of the game is to increase and improve your knowledge base for daily use and prepare for promotion if interested.

Thanks and stay safe.

Terry Campbell is a criminal justice professor at Kaplan University, School of Public Safety and has more than 20 years of experience in corrections and policing. He has served in various roles, including prison warden and parole administrator, for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Terry may be reached at tcampbell@kaplan.edu.

Other articles by Campbell


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