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A corrections career guide.

When it comes to pursuing a successful correctional career, a number of key words pop up in conversations with men and women who have rapidly advanced their own careers: Education. Diversity. Mentor. Attitude.

Both Ron Jackson, executive director of the Texas Youth Commission, and Richard Stalder, secretary of Corrections Services in Louisiana, say that receiving their master's degrees was a key to their success. "Getting my master's opened doors that wouldn't have been open otherwise," Jackson says. He advises young professionals to "look for opportunities to go back to school," since many agencies have funding available for getting or continuing an education.

"The time has come that you will have to have an education to move up the career ladder," Stalder says. "You don't need to run out and register in college on your first day on the job. But it makes a lot of difference to me when I interview people for a job if they have, on their own, taken ACA correspondence courses or enrolled in part-time programs."

Stalder also emphasizes diversity. He worked as a budget officer and as a warden and superintendent in both adult and juvenile facilities. "You have to posture yourself for advancement," he says. Stalder noted that staff with a background solely in security may not have the education or experience needed to reach managerial positions that involve a broad range of activities--such as preparing extensive budgets, forecasting costs and supervising staff. He says that corrections officers can avoid this situation by having at a minimum a bachelor's degree. But the more education and diverse experience you have, the better.

Gil Ingram, Ph.D., regional director for the Federal Bureau of Prisons' mid-Atlantic office, also recommends mobility. "Break out of your specialty," he says. Ingram says that while a degree is a good starting point, on-the-job training also is important. "Be open to new opportunities--ask questions and be flexible."

Mentoring was a key for Rose Washington, commissioner of the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice, who says a former boss in the Division for Youth was her mentor. "In an informal way, he taught me about my mistakes so that I could learn from them," she says. "And then it became easy to go to him to ask questions before I made new ones. It was the interest that my former boss took in me that led me to see that there were many possibilities."

In addition to education, diversity and mentors, the importance of attitude cannot be underestimated. Howard Peters, superintendent of the Illinois Department of Corrections, says "people who see corrections as a profession with many opportunities rather than as just a job--those are the ones who will get ahead."

Peters remembers a corrections officer who for many years didn't care about his work performance. He figured he'd always be passed over for promotion, and as a result, didn't give 100 percent to the job. Finally, a higher grade position opened up that he wanted, so he began to push himself and try to stand out from the field. Predictably, someone else received the promotion; the officer had blown it through all the years of not really caring. "You want to start from day one and set goals--high goals." Peters advises. "Then develop a work record and reputation for getting the job done that warrants promotion."

Peters also stresses the importance of joining professional organizations, such as ACA and its chapters and affiliates. Through ACA and the National Institute of Blacks in Criminal Justice in particular, he says, he "came into contact with people who had their careers in focus," and he found their enthusiasm for the field contagious. As he attended meetings and seminars offered through these organizations, he learned about other aspects of criminal justice and gained a "greater vantage point to see the opportunities available in the field."

Jody K. Spertzel is assistant editor of Corrections Today.

Jobs in Corrections

Correctional job titles and descriptions vary according to the structure and needs of each institution and agency. However, certain categories remain fairly constant and can give you an idea of the types of jobs available and the many directions your career can take. Check with your agency for more specific job descriptions and requirements.

Budget administrator: Performs or supervises work in one or more phases of budgeting.

Chaplain: Offers religious guidance and spiritual counseling to inmates. Requires ordination by a recognized ecclesiastical body; chaplains may be called upon to minister to inmates not of their faith.

Computer specialist: Manages or performs design, use and maintenance of computer systems. Requires knowledge and familiarity with computers, computer-based systems and programming.

Correctional institution administrator: Manages or helps manage correctional institutions, systems or programs. Requires knowledge of penological theories, principles and techniques as well as the problems, methods and techniques of institutional management.

Correctional officer: Supervises the treatment and custody of offenders in correctional institutions.

Employee development specialist: Plans, supervises or leads programs designed to train and develop employees and consults with or guides management concerning employee training and development issues. Requires an understanding of employee development objectives and techniques of education and training.

Facility manager: Manages and maintains buildings, grounds and other facilities. Requires managerial skills and a broad technical knowledge of operating capabilities and maintenance requirements of various kinds of physical plants and equipment.

Financial manager: Maintains financial staff services such as auditing and credit analysis; coordinates financial policies and procedures.

Food service manager: Manages and supervises the operation of the institution's or department's food services, including the storeroom, kitchen, dining rooms, bakery and procurement. Often requires certification as a registered dietitian and familiarity with federal, state and local health codes and sanitary standards.

Health system administrator: Responsible for the administrative management of a health care delivery system and use of all available resources to provide the best possible patient care.

Industrial specialist: Assist or manages a prison industry. Requires practical knowledge of how an industry operates and the materials and facilities necessary.

Juvenile care worker: Supervises the treatment and custody of juvenile offenders in correctional or rehabilitation facilities.

Medical officer: Performs professional and scientific work in one or more fields of medicine. Requires at a minimum the degree of Doctor of Medicine and, in most states, a current license to practice medicine.

Ombudsman: Acts as an unbiased liaison between inmates and facility administration; investigates inmate complaints, reports findings and helps achieve equitable settlements of disputes between inmates and correctional administration.

Psychologist: Works with inmates and corrections professional offering counsel regarding the capacities, traits, interests and activities of human behavior. Requires professional training in psychological principles, theories, methods or data to practical situations and problems.

Personnel manager: Either directs or advises a personnel management program or provides staff leadership and technical guidance.

Probation/parole officer: Advises and counsels individuals who are on probation or parole; enforces and monitors compliance to rules imposed on the offender by either the court or parole board. Requires a bachelor's degree in social sciences, human behavior or criminal justice.

Recreation specialist: Plans, organizes and administers programs that promote inmates' physical, creative, artistic and social development. Requires a general knowledge of the principles and techniques of recreation.

Safety manager: Offers technical advice on or manages occupational safety programs, regulations and standards. Requires knowledge of the techniques of safety and pertinent aspects of engineering, psychology and other factors affecting safety.

Teacher: Leads classes on various pertinent subjects for both juvenile and adult offenders. Requires a bachelor's degree plus certification by state education authority in specific subject area.

Training instructor: Administers or supervises training program development and instruction. Requires a combination of knowing how to lead a training program and a practical knowledge of the subject matter being taught.

Job categories and descriptions are based on information from Occupations Within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Helpful Guides and Directories

The following guides and directories may help you find the continuing education opportunity assistance that most closely matches your needs. Look for them at your public library or at a bookstore.

Alternative Educational Programs

Bear's Guide to Earning Non-Traditional College Degrees, by John Bear. 1988. John B. Bear

Offers information about non-traditional education opportunities and helps prospective students evaluate schools and decide which equivalency exams can be helpful.

Campus-Free College Degrees. 1992. Thorson Guides

Lists accredited off-campus college degree programs, including a directory of colleges and universities by state and a list of specialized home-study schools that offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in either non-residency or short-residency programs.

Credits and Careers for Adult Learners, by Roberta Riethmiller Egelston. 1985. McFarland & Company Inc.

Discusses educational choices such as innovative ways to earn credits toward degrees as well as correspondence, home study instruction and cooperative education programs.

National College Databook. 1981. Peterson's Guides Inc.

Lists 385 schools offering external degrees.

Peterson's Independent Study Catalog. 1989. National University Continuing Education Association.

Lists more than 10,000 high school, college and graduate courses offered by more than 70 colleges and universities; includes admission requirements and information on financial aid planning, external degree programs and correspondence courses.

Who Offers Part-Time Degree Programs? 1985. Peterson's Guides Inc.

Overviews part-time degree opportunities available at more than 2,500 accredited colleges and universities throughout the United States. Many of the listed institutions have evening, weekend and summer programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Two- and Four-year Programs

Anderson's Directory of Criminal Justice Education, 1986-87. 1986. Anderson Publishing Co.

Summarizes criminal justice degree programs, faculty characteristics and student enrollment and also lists criminal justice programs by state and college or university.

Barron's Index of College Majors. 1990. Barron's Educational Series Inc.

Summarizes important facts and figures, including enrollment, tuition and SAT/ACT scores necessary for acceptance.

A Guide to College Planning, 1991-92 Edition. 1991. American College Testing Program

Includes worksheets and activities to guide students through the college planning process; gives information about specific colleges, how to apply for admission and financial aid, and indexes major courses of study for two- and four-year colleges.

Index of Majors. 1991. College Entrance Examination Board

Lists colleges and universities by state and type of program or degree.

Peterson's Competitive Colleges. 1992. Peterson's Guides Inc.

Offers tips for planning, choosing and applying for college; profiles more than 300 colleges and universities.

Peterson's Guide to Certificate Programs at American Colleges and Universities. 1988. Peterson's Guides Inc.

Helps identify programs that meet students' educational objectives, whether they are seeking to advance careers, acquire new skills or qualify for certification within a specific field; lists certification programs by state and college.

Peterson's Two Year Colleges 1992. Peterson's Guides Inc.

Gives information about community and junior colleges, including available programs and majors; lists associate degree programs at both two- and four-year colleges.

Graduate Degree

An Overview of Graduate and Professional Programs. 1991. Peterson's Guides Inc.

Outlines more than 1,480 institutions offering graduate study; gives information on applying, financial aid and required entrance and application requirements; profiles institutions offering graduate and professional work.

Financial Aid Can Help You Pursue Continuing Education

Financial considerations often are the biggest hindrance to pursuing or continuing an education. Applying for financial aid can be confusing, and potential students sometimes are unaware that financial aid is available. Keep in mind, however, that many organizations, including ACA and many of its chapters and affiliates, offer scholarships that can help you meet some of the cost of going to school. Also check with your college's financial aid office to see if there is any federal or state assistance available to students in your area.

Below are just a few of the scholarships available to criminal justice students.

* National Institute of Blacks in Criminal Justice Attn.: Clara Murphy Philadelphia Youth Study Center Division of Juvenile Justice Services 2020 Pennsylvania Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19130 (215) 686-4849

The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship is granted annually to minority students graduating high school with a 2.2 academic average or better and who plan to major in criminal justice. The applicant also must demonstrate a financial need.

* National Institute of Justice National Criminal Justice Reference Service Box 6000 Rockville, MD 20850 1-800-851-3420

The Graduate Research Fellowship Program sponsors research conducted by doctoral students in the field of law enforcement or criminal justice.

* American Correctional Association Attn.: Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship 8025 Laurel Lakes Court Laurel, MD 20707-5075 (301) 206-5100

This scholarship is awarded to minority nominees enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate criminal justice program in a four-year college and who can demonstrate financial need and academic achievement.

* National Sheriff's Association The Scholarship Fund 1450 Duke St. Alexandria, VA 22314-3590 1-800-424-7827

Scholarships are awarded to sheriff's office employees or children of employees currently enrolled in a two- or four-year program focusing on some aspect of criminal justice.

* The California Attorney General's Office Bureau of Criminal Statistics P.O. Box 903427 Sacramento, CA 94203 (916) 739-5566

The Criminal Justice Targeted Research Program sponsors graduate or post-doctoral research using or studying Bureau of Criminal Statistics (BCS) quantitative data to analyze aspects of crime and criminal justice in California or to improve the quantity and utility of BCS quantitative data.

* North Carolina Department of Community Colleges Scholarship Committee Caswell Building, 200 W. Jones St. Raleigh, NC 27603-1337 (919) 733-7051 ext. 319

The Law Enforcement Women's Association Criminal Justice Scholarship is awarded to North Carolina residents enrolled or planning to enroll full-time in a program leading to a degree in criminal justice, juvenile justice, corrections science or police science.

Use one of the financial aid resource guides listed below to learn more about scholarships, loans, grants and other financial aids.

Directory of Financial Aids for Minorities, 1989-90. 1990. Reference Service Press

Offers information about financial assistance available to African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans.

Directory of Financial Aids for Women, 1991-92. 1991. Reference Service Press

Provides information on state financial aid and guaranteed student loans; lists scholarships, fellowships, loans, grants, awards and internships available to women.

Financial Aids for Higher Education. 1991. William C. Brown Publishers

Guides students through the process of finding and applying for financial aid and includes a list of financial aid sources.

Peterson's 1992 College Money Handbook. 1991. Peterson's Guides Inc.

Discusses costs and financial aid at colleges and universities, lists academic scholarships and guides students through the financial aid application process.

1992-93 Scholarships, Fellowships and Loans. 1992. Gate Research Inc.

Offers general information about financial aid programs for students and professionals.

Examining Alternative Ways to Earn Credits

Correspondence courses, equivalency examinations and professional development seminars offer opportunities to continue your education if you do not have time to pursue a degree full time.

Correspondence Courses. ACA offers many correspondence courses that you can take according to your needs and interests. Students successfully completing ACA's correspondence courses can earn college credits through Salve Regina University's credit by examination program or continuing education units through Eastern Kentucky University.

This program gives corrections professionals the opportunity to link ACA correspondence courses and their own prior educational and practical experience with university examinations for academic credit. Members of ACA and other correctional organizations may enroll in this program, including those who previously have completed ACA's courses. For more information, write or call ACA, 8025 Laurel Lakes Court, Laurel MD 20707-5075, 1-800-825-2665 or (301) 206-5059.

Equivalency Examinations. Equivalency exams allow students to gain college credits for knowledge gained through experience on the job. Following are three popular exams.

* CLEP: College Level Examination Program, offered by: College Entrance Examination Board CN 6600 Princeton, NJ 08541-6600

* PEP: Proficiency Examination Program, offered by: American College Testing Program P.O. Box 168 Iowa City, IA 52243

* DANTES: Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support--Available to active military personnel. For more information, contact your base's Education Office.

Professional Development Seminars. These offer valuable information and show supervisors your interest in your career. ACA offers many seminars throughout the year. For the 1993 Training Catalog, contact Training Coordinator Deby Doubroff at ACA headquarters, (301) 206-5045.

The National Academy of Corrections also offers seminars throughout the year. For more information, contact NAC, 1960 Industrial Circle, Suite A, Longmont CO 80401; (303) 682-0382.

Shattering the Glass Ceiling

Women in corrections face the same concerns as women throughout corporate America. Although women are finding jobs within the field, they also face subtle--and not so subtle--barriers to promotion.

While organizations are changing their attitudes toward hiring and promoting women, many women still feel that progress isn't occurring as fast as it should. The glass ceiling--defined as invisible or artificial barriers preventing women from progressing to the top of their fields--is a very real problem.

Countless articles, surveys and reports stress that companies and organizations, including federal, state and local governments, need to develop systems of mentoring, networking and identifying women--and minorities--with potential and provide them with career guidance. This means ensuring that women and minorities get job positions that will give them the breadth of experience necessary to move up--even if that means going against the belief that women should be protected from potentially dangerous jobs or situations.

A recent U.S. Department of Labor report states that some of the barriers that continue to exist are:

* inconsistent recruitment of a diverse talent pool;

* the lack of opportunities for women to contribute to and participate in organization-sponsored career development experiences; and

* a lack of all levels of management affirming that equal employment opportunity is an organizational responsibility rather than just one person's or department's.

Regardless of your sex or level of responsibility, you can help change the work atmosphere around you.

First, ensure that your organization has a comprehensive, written policy regarding sexual harassment as well as a commitment to hire and promote women and minorities.

Encourage discussion within your organization, especially in middle and upper management. Encourage women and minorities to participate in every educational or professional development opportunity available. With an ever-increasing pool of qualified women and minority professionals to choose from it will be increasingly necessary to promote women and minorities to positions of responsibility.

If possible, mentor women and minorities just entering the profession. And don't discount staff members currently working in positions such as janitor and secretary--often people in those positions are waiting for some encouragement to help them progress from a job into a career.

Women and minorities new to corrections need to gain on-the-job experience that prepares them for promotions down the line and to ensure they have the necessary education and professional development training. They should actively seek a mentor who can guide their career and should network extensively by joining professional organizations. While management needs to promote women and minorities fairly and consistently, the onus is on the employees to ensure they are adequately prepared for the challenges of their jobs.

Unfortunately, time will be the most powerful instrument in shattering the glass ceiling. But the more pressure people put on the glass ceiling, the more fragile it will become.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related articles
Author:Spertzel, Jody K.
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Words:3131
Previous Article:Hawk appointed BOP director.
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