Correctional Officers are in charge of guarding, supervising, monitoring, and assisting in the rehabilitation process of people sentenced by a court of law to time in a correctional institution or other places of detention. They are responsible for the well-being and safety of inmates, as well as maintaining a calm, safe, and positive environment.
Apart from their duties involving direct contact with inmates, Correctional Officers are also in charge of some of the administrative aspects of the correctional institution they work in. They work closely with Police Forces and other Law Enforcement organizations in the processing of paperwork and transferring of inmates.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Correctional Officers are required to complete.
- Watching over inmates:
- Making sure all inmates are accounted for;
- performing security checks;
- assigning proper reprimands for misconduct;
- preventing disturbances and escapes; and
- responding to violent outbursts among inmates.
- Supervising inmates during activities:
- Scheduling and overseeing inmate’s meals, assignments, and recreation periods.
- Patrolling the detention centre:
- Watching inmates’ behaviours;
- reporting unusual or suspicious activities to the supervisor; and
- writing reports on inmate’s behaviours.
- Escorting inmates when being transported or transferred to another facility.
- Supervising visits:
- Escorting inmates to the visiting area;
- searching visitors for concealed objects; and
- monitoring visits.
- Doing correctional centre related paperwork:
- Organizing admission, release, and transfer procedures for inmates;
- completing all related paperwork; and
- writing inmate reports to be used in court when necessary.
- Watching over inmates and supervising their activities.
- Doing security checks.
- Making sure all inmates are accounted for.
- Handling lethal and non-lethal weapons.
- Staying alert for possible violent situations.
- Responding to riots or other violent disturbances.
- Escorting inmates who are being transferred.
- Escorting visitors to the designated visiting area.
- Assisting inmates in rehabilitation processes (e.g. workshops and counselling).
The average Correctional Officer salary is $51,435 per year or $26 per hour. This is around 1.6 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $36,000 while most experienced workers make up to $72,000. These results are based on 40 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Being able to work with aggressive and violent people;
- treating inmates with respect and dignity;
- projecting a sense of authority; and
- conveying instructions in clear and commanding manner to inmates; and
- being capable of writing extensive reports on inmates’ behaviour and rehabilitation process.
- Outstanding teamwork and leadership skills:
- Being able to rely on teamwork to assess situations; and
- working as a unit to maintain order.
- High organizational skills:
- Arranging and completing inmates’ paperwork; and
- storing inmates’ possessions until release.
- Excellent problem-solving skills:
- Being able to promptly and accurately assess situations;
- staying calm and focused in chaotic situations; and
- acting according to protocol.
- Good physical condition:
- Having great overall health;
- being in good shape;
- possessing acute senses of hearing and vision; and
- possessing high levels of stamina.
- Exceptional weapon skills:
- Being proficient in the use of non-lethal and lethal weapons.
- Highly analytical:
- Possessing strong observational skills, being able to assess different situations and to identify possible threats.
- Outstanding levels of integrity, morality, honesty, and responsibility.
Correctional Officers are hired to work in correctional centres by the municipal, provincial, and federal governments. The educational background necessary to become a Correctional Officer includes completing secondary education, as well as having a college or university degree in Law Enforcement, Correctional Services, Police Sciences, or Criminology. All applicants must also complete a special training course provided by the Correctional Services of Canada.
After having completed this course, applicants may be recruited by correctional centres where they will receive further training, including, but not limited to, first aids, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), handling weapons, and other necessary skills to maintain order and safety in a correctional center. In order to be hired, new recruits must also be subject to physical and psychological evaluations, according to provincial or territorial laws. Many correctional institutions also require new recruits to have a clean criminal record.
Due to the nature of a correctional institution, Correctional Officers are required to be present 24 hours a day. Therefore, they work in rotating shifts and are often expected to work nights, weekends, and national holidays. The weekly work hours are usually between 35 to 40.