>Users:   login   |  register       > email     > people    


Minimum Preparation Requirements for Correctional Officers: Part 1
By Dr. Susan Jones
Published: 05/08/2017

Diploma scaled The following is the first in a two part series written by Dr. Susan Jones.

The type of people recruited to work in this country’s prisons directly affects the success of that system. Toward that end, it is necessary to understand what the correctional systems are using as a screening tool for potential employees. This article provides a snapshot of the current minimum educational and age requirements for the state correctional systems as well as the Bureau of Prisons. It also provides a review of the Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), which targeted the educational requirements for corrections personnel.

Law Enforcement Education Program

The civil unrest of the 1960s in this country drew attention to many different components of society; including prisons. Allegations of abuse within prisons and corruption within all of law enforcement were very common. One result of this civil unrest was a call for dramatic, system-wide changes for the criminal justice system. The focus was not just on the prisons, but also upon the treatment of citizens by police officers and the court system. This lead to what has been described as a crisis in law enforcement that culminated in disruptions both socially and politically (Jacobs & Magdovitz, 1977; Norman, 1980). As a result, several task groups were formed to look at solutions, including the 1967 President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. This commission paved the way for funding for criminal justice research and education with the establishment of the Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP). This program provided funding as a way to achieve the recommendations of the 1967 President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, specifically that higher education be viewed as an occupational necessity for law enforcement. The commissions urged that “some college” be required for all appointments and that higher requirements be mandated for any promotions (Travis, 1995).

One of the clearly articulated goals of LEEP was to increase the dignity of the profession by providing educated professionals to lead this system (Winslow, 1968). The Law Enforcement Education Program funded many criminal justice education programs within institutions of higher education for programs aimed at police officers and correctional officers. The assumption was that if officers possessed a college degree, the incidence of abuse would decrease and the criminal justice system would be run more humanely and fairly (Hepburn & Knepper, 1993; Poole & Regoli, 1980).

The Presidential Commission of 1967 concluded that the corrections system was in need of more highly trained and committed professionals to lead these systems. The commission also concluded that an increase in the educational preparation would then increase the dignity of the profession and work to decrease the incidence of abuse, reduce prison violence, and reduce offender recidivism (Gibbons & Katzenbach, 2006; Human Rights Watch, 1996, October 1, 1997; Martin & Jurik, 2007; PEW Center on the States, 2009; Slate, 2008; Winslow, 1968).

LEEP was authorized to make loans and grants to institutions of higher education for each person enrolled in a full time program directly related to law enforcement. The grant would be cancelled by two years of law enforcement experience. Twenty-five percent of the loan would be cancelled each year the recipient worked in law enforcement. Full time service would pay off a loan in four years (Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, 1974).

Impact of court decisions upon the Corrections Environment

During the same time period, the court systems launched into an era where they exercised a great deal of power upon the entire criminal justice system. The 1964 decision of Cooper v. Pate held that prison inmates could bring lawsuits against prison authorities under Section 1983 of the federal Civil Rights Act (Cooper v. Pate, 378 U.S. 546). This decision led to a significant increase in civil rights litigation from inmates which resulted in many systems being found to be unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution. As many as thirty states in the United States were under court orders or consent decrees in the 1990s because of the conditions of confinement (Keating, 1992). Many of the court ordered changes included some of the same goals of the 1967 Presidential Commission.

Changes in Minimum Qualifications

The need for a new type of professional corrections employee was implied by the courts and clearly documented in the Presidential Commission’s work. The task force concluded that encouraging educated young men to enter the field of law enforcement was important and that “most intelligent, well-adjusted high school graduates now go into college” (U.S. Government, 1970, p. 154), so law enforcement needed to do something to attract these men or be left to “recruit from among those who lack either the ability or ambition to further their education” (U.S. Government, 1970, p. 154).

As early as 1980, many corrections systems began to require some college or even a college degree for entry-level positions. A. Alber, former director of the Pueblo Community College Criminal Justice program, recalls that the Colorado Department of Corrections required at least 30 hours of college credits in a behavioral science program or law enforcement experience, beginning in 1981. Then in 1987, Colorado increased that requirement to at least a two year degree in a behavioral science or criminal justice field (A. Alber, personal communication, June 9, 2011). This change was a direct result of the increase in the availability of college graduates from community colleges and universities. However, even though the prison population was continuing to increase, the number of people available in the U.S. workforce had started to drop and in periods of good economic times, recruitment for corrections was difficult. The career goals and work-life expectations of younger generations also had an impact on the profession. As a result of these work force changes, many systems throughout the country started to reduce minimum qualifications for entry level officers. In 1997, Colorado reduced the minimum educational requirement from an associate’s degree to high school diploma or GED (A. Alber, personal communication, June 9, 2011).

Looking back at the recent history in corrections, the issue has come full circle. Colorado, as well as other jurisdictions, went from requiring a high school education to requiring some level of college to again only requiring a high school education. However, the complexity of the work did not follow this same circle. The correctional facilities have evolved into very complex structures. Many of the newer facilities have highly complex electronic backbones that require advanced skills to do even the most simple tasks (Mears, 2008; Riveland, 1999). Opening cell doors at these newer facilities is not done with a key but with a computer system. Additionally, the types of offenders who are incarcerated today have changed as a result of an increase in gang involvement. Issues such as religious freedom and practice, pornography censorship, gang management, accommodation for disability and languages, aging offender populations and an increase in the number of offenders that are under the age of 18, but sentenced to adult prison, are just a few examples of this complexity (Riveland, 1999).

A review of relevant research does not offer clear direction on whether a correctional officer needs a college degree. Some would argue that the stigmatization of the job, working hours, and isolated locations of prisons actually discourage candidates with college degrees from pursuing this type of a career (Irwin, 2005; Jacobs & Retsky, 1975). If correctional officers are truly expected to act as social control agents as suggested by Jacobs (1975), then perhaps there is a compelling reason to pursue increasing the number of college-educated officers in corrections. Correctional officers have been noted to underestimate the impact they have on offenders yet the correctional officers are the people who spend the most time interacting with offenders, far more than any treatment provider (Antonio, Young, & Wingeard, 2009). As a result, recruitment and retention of corrections officers may be a key factor towards effective social change.

This article offers a snapshot view of the minimum qualifications that are currently in place in United States prison, both within the Bureau of Prisons and the state corrections systems. The information provided on Table 1, was obtained from a variety of sources, primarily corrections department’s web sites. The information captured in this Table 1 is limited to the minimum age and minimum educational requirement only. Some jurisdictions require specific experience and if the applicant doesn’t have that experience, education may substitute for the experience.

All jurisdictions require no more than a high school diploma or GED for the minimum educational requirement. Seven jurisdictions have higher education requirements listed on their recruiting websites but each of these jurisdictions allow for this requirement to be substituted for experience.

The minimum age was reported in Table 2 to provide a more complete snapshot of the type of candidate that each agency recruits (of course, any requirement for college education would necessitate an increase in the age of applicants). In six jurisdictions there is no specific minimum age, but often the experience requirements listed imply that the person must be at least 18. As the chart indicates, most of the jurisdictions (21) require officers to be 18 years old or older and only fifteen jurisdictions require officers to be 21. The minimum age for ten other jurisdictions varies between 18 and 21.

The issue of minimum age is often a point of debate among corrections professionals who are charged with recruiting or supervising corrections staff. Many corrections professionals believe that it takes a level of maturity to work in a correctional institution and age is often a way to estimate that maturity. However, more than one jurisdiction has reduced the minimum age requirement in a response to the decreasing applicant pool (Correctionsone.News, 2015).

Come back next week to read the "Minimum Preparation Requirements for Correctional Officers: Part 2".

Dr. Susan Jones retired from a warden’s position within the Colorado Department of Corrections. She worked in a variety of corrections positions in Colorado for 31 years, including: community corrections, correctional officer, sergeant, lieutenant, manager, associate warden and warden. Dr. Jones research interests have focused on the issues that correctional employees face on a daily basis. Visit Dr. Jones's Facebook page "A Glimpse Behind the Fence".

References

Antonio, M. E., Young, J. L., & Wingeard, L. M. (2009). When actions and attitude count most: Assessing perceived level of responsibility and support for inmate treatment and rehabilitation programs among correctional employees. The Prison Journal, 89(4), 363-382. doi: 10.1177/0032885509349554

Cooper v. Pate, 378 U.S. 546, No. 378 U.S. 546 (U.S. Supreme Court 1964).

Correctionsone.News (Producer). (2015, 8-18-2015). Kansas DOC drops correctional officer hiring age to 18.

Gibbons, J. J., & Katzenbach, N. d. B. (2006). Confronting confinement: A report of the commission on safety and abuse in America's prisons: VERA Institute of Justice.

Goldthorpe, J. H., & Hope, K. (1974). The social grading of occupations. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Hepburn, J. R., & Knepper, P. E. (1993). Correctional officers as human service workers: The effect on job satisfaction. Justice Quarterly, 10(2), 315-335.

Human Rights Watch. (1996). All too familiar: Sexual abuse of women in U.S. state prisons.

Human Rights Watch. (2015). Callous and cruel: Use of force against inmates with mental disabilities in US jails and prison. New York, NY: Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch. (October 1, 1997). Cold storage: Super-maximum security confinement in Indiana. 1-56432-175-4.

Irwin, J. (2005). The warehouse prison: Disposal of the new dangerous class. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury Pueblishing.

Jacobs, J. B., & Magdovitz, S. B. (1977). At LEEP'S end?:A review of the law enforcement education program. Journal of Police Science and Administration, 5(1), 1-18.

Jacobs, J. B., & Retsky, H. G. (1975). Prison guard. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 4(1), 5-29. doi: 10.1177/089124167500400102

Jones, S. (2015). Perception about the status of corrections work. Corrections.com.

Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. (1974). Guideline manual: Law enforcement education program. Washington DC.

Martin, S. E., & Jurik, N. C. (2007). Doing justice, doing gender: Women in legal and criminal justice occupations. Thousand Oaks: Sage, CA.

Mears, D. P. (2008). An assessment of supermax prisons using an evaluation research framework. The Prison Journal, 88(1), 43-68. doi: 10.1177/0032885507310964

Norman, M. D. (1980). An analysis of the curriculums and faculty preparation in Colorado Associate of Applied Science Degree Criminal Justice Programs. Doctor of Education, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO.

PEW Center on the States. (2009). One in 31: The long reach of American corrections. Washington DC: PEW Charitable Trust.

Poole, E. D., & Regoli, R. M. (1980). Role stress, custody orientation, and disciplinary actions. Criminology, 18(215-26).

President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Adminsitration of Justice. (1967). The challenge of crime in a free society Washington DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Riveland, C. (1999). Supermax prisons: Overview and general considerations. National Institute of Corrections.

Slate, R. N. a. J. W. W. (2008). Criminalization of mental illness. Durhan, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Stinchcomb, J. B. (2004). Making the grade: Professionalizing the 21st century workforce through higher education partnerships. Corrections Today.

Travis, J. (1995). Education in law enforcement: Beyond the college degree. Paper presented at the Forum on the Police and Higher Education, Chicago, Illinois.

U.S. Government. (1970). Report of the President's commision on campus unrest. Washington DC: Superintendent of Documents, US government printing office.

Winslow, R. W. (1968). Crime in a free society (2nd ed.). Encino, California: Dickenson Publishing Company.


Comments:

  1. faheem on 04/25/2020:

    Beaver says I also have such interest, you can read my profile here: master88

  2. faheem on 04/05/2020:

    You ought to basically fantastic not to mention solid advice, which means notice: 토토사이트

  3. faheem on 03/01/2020:

    For this web site, you will see our account, remember to go through this info. 먹튀검증

  4. usman67 on 02/11/2020:

    I need to to thank you for one's time for this, particularly fantastic read !! I definitely really liked every part of it and I also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one. Keep posting. Thanks for sharing. For more click here

  5. dejaolsone on 02/10/2020:

    What do you need after your stressful and exhausting study and work days? I am sure you need to relax and relax. So click on our entertainment games! Definitely won't let you down !! the impossible quiz

  6. faizan on 02/03/2020:

    Awesome dispatch! I am indeed getting apt to over this info, is truly neighborly my buddy. Likewise fantastic blog here among many of the costly info you acquire. Reserve up the beneficial process you are doing here. sagame66 สมัคร

  7. faizan on 01/18/2020:

    Make the most of mainly premium substances - you will find him or her for: cosplay shop

  8. faizan on 12/30/2019:

    So it is interesting and very good written and see what they think about other people. scr888

  9. faizan on 12/29/2019:

    it's really nice and meanful. it's really cool blog. Linking is very useful thing.you have really helped lots of people who visit blog and provide them usefull information. dafabet

  10. faizan on 12/28/2019:

    The most interesting text on this interesting topic that can be found on the net ... Wholesale Fashion Rings

  11. faizan on 12/26/2019:

    Make the most of mainly premium substances - you will find him or her for: เว็บแทงบอลออนไลน์อันดับ1

  12. faizan on 12/23/2019:

    So it is interesting and very good written and see what they think about other people. 조루증치료

  13. faizan on 12/22/2019:

    You should mainly superior together with well-performing material, which means that see it: ดูหนังออนไลน์HD

  14. faizan on 12/22/2019:

    It's superior, however , check out material at the street address. ดูหนังออนไลน์HD

  15. faizan on 12/13/2019:

    These websites are really needed, you can learn a lot. floor company

  16. faizan on 12/10/2019:

    Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing... phoneburner pricing Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing... phoneburner pricing

  17. faizan on 12/08/2019:

    You possess lifted an essential offspring..Blesss for using..I would want to study better latest transactions from this blog..preserve posting.. Keto Prepared Meal Delivery

  18. faizan on 12/05/2019:

    These websites are really needed, you can learn a lot. Term Loans

  19. faizan on 12/03/2019:

    I should say only that its awesome! The blog is informational and always produce amazing things. 메이저사이트

  20. faizan on 12/01/2019:

    Interesting and interesting information can be found on this topic here profile worth to see it. 메이저사이트

  21. faizan on 11/28/2019:

    This is very appealing, however , it is very important that will mouse click on the connection: Google website services

  22. support2010 on 11/27/2019:

    It is fine, nonetheless evaluate the information and facts around this correct. تعرف على حبوب سنافي snafi لعلاج سرعة القذف وضعف الإنتصاب

  23. faizan on 11/27/2019:

    Your blogs further more each else volume is so entertaining further serviceable It appoints me befall retreat encore. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. bike rentals crystal river

  24. faizan on 11/20/2019:

    This is very significant, and yet necessary towards just click this unique backlink: top web host

  25. faizan on 11/19/2019:

    I should say only that its awesome! The blog is informational and always produce amazing things. free proxy server

  26. faizan on 11/19/2019:

    For this web site, you will see our account, remember to go through this info. mercati finanziari americani

  27. faizan on 11/18/2019:

    These you will then see the most important thing, the application provides you a website a powerful important internet page: the ola price list

  28. faizan on 11/18/2019:

    Hmm… I interpret blogs on a analogous issue, however i never visited your blog. I added it to populars also i’ll be your faithful primer. Sacramento portrait photography

  29. faizan on 11/17/2019:

    You ought to basically fantastic not to mention solid advice, which means notice: Bitcoin Price

  30. faizan on 11/14/2019:

    Amazing, this is great as you want to learn more, I invite to This is my page. J4TVchannel

  31. faizan on 11/14/2019:

    I use only high quality materials - you can see them at: чартерные авиабилеты

  32. faizan on 11/13/2019:

    On this subject internet page, you'll see my best information, be sure to look over this level of detail. ogwhatsapp

  33. faizan on 11/13/2019:

    I recommend only good and reliable information, so see it: lagos

  34. faizan on 11/12/2019:

    Awesome dispatch! I am indeed getting apt to over this info, is truly neighborly my buddy. Likewise fantastic blog here among many of the costly info you acquire. Reserve up the beneficial process you are doing here. vegetal vigra

  35. faizan on 11/10/2019:

    Hmm… I interpret blogs on a analogous issue, however i never visited your blog. I added it to populars also i’ll be your faithful primer. تحميل العاب

  36. faizan on 11/10/2019:

    It is fine, nonetheless evaluate the information and facts around this correct. تحميل برامج كمبيوتر

  37. faizan on 11/09/2019:

    La mejor TIENDA ONLINE de VINOS de España Los mejores VINOS en PRECIO y CALIDAD en RiojaWine.Shop La mejores OFERTAS del 2019 entra ya en el mejor sitio web! regalar botellas de rioja

  38. faizan on 11/09/2019:

    This is an interesting post that I'll like to share with you avenue south residence showflat

  39. faizan on 11/09/2019:

    This is an interesting post that I'll like to share with you florence residences location

  40. faizan on 11/05/2019:

    I wrote about a similar issue, I give you the link to my site. 온라인카지노

  41. faizan on 11/05/2019:

    I simply want to tell you that I am new to weblog and definitely liked this blog site. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You absolutely have wonderful stories. Cheers for sharing with us your blog. สมัครจีคลับสล็อต

  42. faizan on 11/03/2019:

    I should assert barely that its astounding! The blog is informational also always fabricate amazing entitys. 토토사이트

  43. faizan on 10/31/2019:

    I would recommend my profile is important to me, I invite you to discuss this topic. cma course bahrain

  44. faizan on 10/24/2019:

    I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job ! SEO Company

  45. faizan on 10/24/2019:

    In this case you will begin it is important, it again produces a web site a strong significant internet site: hair salon near me

  46. faizan on 10/23/2019:

    Cool you inscribe, the info is really salubrious further fascinating, I'll give you a connect to my scene. chuchu

  47. faizan on 10/21/2019:

    Cool you write, the information is very good and interesting, I'll give you a link to my site. Building intercom system installation

  48. faizan on 10/18/2019:

    Make the most of mainly premium substances - you will find him or her for: virtual address

  49. faizan on 10/14/2019:

    What a really awesome post this is. Truly, one of the best posts I've ever witnessed to see in my whole life. Wow, just keep it up. rent a car Zagreb

  50. faizan on 10/11/2019:

    I would recommend my profile is important to me, I invite you to discuss this topic. limited company info

  51. faizan on 09/23/2019:

    Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here. Spring cleaning

  52. faizan on 09/23/2019:

    I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site. 인터넷바카라하는곳

  53. faizan on 09/19/2019:

    I use basically superior fabrics : you will discover these products by: Australian brokers forex

  54. faizan on 09/12/2019:

    Initial You got a awesome blog .I determination be involved in plus uniform minutes. i view you got truly very functional matters , i determination be always checking your blog blesss. äÞá ÚÝÔ

  55. faizan on 08/26/2019:

    I invite you to the page where you can read with interesting information on similar topics. LTC Price

  56. faizan on 07/28/2019:

    Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one. Keep posting. Thanks for sharing. https://www.digitekprinting.com/architectural-drawings

  57. faizan on 07/28/2019:

    I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read !! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site. https://eatmywords.com/

  58. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    Acknowledges for paper such a beneficial composition, I stumbled beside your blog besides decipher a limited announce. I want your technique of inscription... big and tall suits

  59. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    Hi there, I discovered your blog per Google bit searching for such kinda educational advise moreover your inform beholds very remarkable for me. kitchenaid wine cooler

  60. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    There is so much in this article that I would never have thought of on my own. Your content gives readers things to think about in an interesting way. flawless vape shop

  61. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    For this web site, you will see our account, remember to go through this info. wedges

  62. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    This is important, though it's necessary to help you head over to it weblink: acne treatments

  63. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    I personally use them exclusively high-quality elements : you will notice these folks during: Ejuice

  64. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    Can nicely write on similar topics! Welcome to here you'll find out how it should look. seo expert

  65. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    Such sites are important because they provide a large dose of useful information ... classes near me

  66. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    Very interesting information, worth recommending. However, I recommend this: counting videos

  67. faizan on 07/23/2019:

    I am interested in such topics so I will address page where it is cool described. cell phone repair training

  68. mattykolej on 06/14/2019:

    I think that such jobs need to require a higher level of education. Of course education these days doesn't mean that much because students use services like https://www.myassignmentwriting.com.au/ a lot but anyway, if you got through it all, you definitely get something and you won't ever deny this fact.

  69. Mia Afia on 05/23/2019:

    It is an article which lets us know about the equality which means to choose the best person for any post. This article really affected my mind because I’ve seen so many people working on posts they are not deserving for and edubirdie review help me a lot to find out good info. Anyways thanks a lot Susan Jones for sharing such great informational article.


Login to let us know what you think

User Name:   

Password:       


Forgot password?





correctsource logo




Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of The Corrections Connection User Agreement
The Corrections Connection ©. Copyright 1996 - 2020 © . All Rights Reserved | 15 Mill Wharf Plaza Scituate Mass. 02066 (617) 471 4445 Fax: (617) 608 9015