A correctional officer is a sworn uniformed official charged with the responsibility of supervising, overseeing, and enforcing the bond of imprisonment of inmates. They are also responsible for the maintenance, care, and regulation of people who have been lawfully convicted of a felony and then sentence to imprisonment. In many cases, correctional officers and correctional probation officers act as representatives of state and local correction.
While working in a correctional facility, the correctional officer must be alert to any events that may occur outside of the walls of the facility that could jeopardize the security of the facility. A good example of an event is an escape by an inmate who has been confined to the facility. The officer must act quickly to ensure the safety of the public and the staff of the facility.
Generally, an aspiring officer will get a career as a parole officer, probation officer, or state trooper. There are also a number of jobs available as an inspector of prisons, forensic technician, a prison corrections officer, or a prison service officer. A career as a correctional officer offers not only a great opportunity to serve the public, but the opportunity to put your skills to work in high demanding fields.
Each U.S. state requires their correctional officers to be licensed in order to supervise the state's offenders. These officers must be professionally trained in matters relating to the laws that govern prison inmates and are responsible for investigating all reported escapes from prison. Offenders are generally housed in one of four correctional facilities. Within these institutions, the level of discipline applied to each inmate is usually very different. Inspectors are typically employed by federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Drug Enforcement Administration in order to supervise compliance with federal laws regarding inmate treatment and drug addiction.
Since the majority of prison inmates are housed in correctional facilities that also houses of incarceration, it is often necessary for an officer to monitor the activities of these inmates and report any problems they notice. If an officer observes vandalism, dangerous weapons being used, or sexual harassment, then they may report this information to a supervisory officer. While most federal agencies contract officers to maintain order in their facilities, there are a few state correctional facilities that retain the responsibility for placing officers in these positions. In these states, correctional officers are typically responsible for investigating sexual abuse, making arrests when necessary, and maintaining order within the facility. As with many jobs within the legal system, this job requires an individual to be highly organized and detail oriented.
As you can see, there is a large demand for officers who are committed to upholding the law and serving communities. Though there are a few schools that provide the basic training needed to obtain a certificate to be an officer, there are no colleges or universities that offer a four-year degree specifically geared towards being a corrections officer. However, there are options. A number of community colleges and universities, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Maryland, offer the Master of Science degree in corrections, which will prepare you for a career as an officer.