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What Is a Prison Consultant?
Prison consultants can work both with attorneys and law firms as well as directly with defendants who are facing criminal charges and possible incarceration. Some of the services they provide include giving advice on how to lower sentences and present yourself as advantageously as possible to the judge and court during trial. They may also try to give defendants an idea what to expect during trial and, in the case of conviction, when they get to prison, as well as working within the legal system to get their clients placed in more desirable prisons. Some clients even meet with those who are currently or have been in prison in order to help them mentally and psychologically cope with the difficulties of being incarcerated and prepare for a productive life after being released.
Specific services and job duties can include helping draft letters to the judge and preparing character references, coaching defendants on how to present themselves at court so that the judge and jury may view them more favorably, and informing defendants about ways to reduce their sentences.
|Educational Requirements||No specific educational or certification requirements|
|Job Skills||Knowledge of and/or experience with the legal system; interpersonal and communication skills|
|Median Salary (2017)||$51,410* (probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||6% growth (probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
There are no specific educational requirements to become a prison consultant, and no certification is necessary. Many prison consultants are ex-offenders that have been to prison in the past and know what to expect, or those who have worked in prisons or have some sort of past work experience in law enforcement or another legal profession.
Prison consultants must have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the legal system, including court procedures and sentencing guidelines, in order to be able to lend their clients insight and advice on how best to proceed to achieve a lighter sentence and/or better prison placement. They must also have strong interpersonal and communication skills, as they will be working one on one with defendants and lawyers.
Career Outlook and Salary
There is not a published salary for this career field. There are some larger firms where aspiring prison consultants may find work, but this career is largely done by independent persons marketing their own personal experience and expertise. Your salary will be dependent on a number of factors, including the rate you charge and the amount of work you are able to find. Rates that consultants charge vary widely, from $1,000 to upwards of $10,000 per client. According to one prison consulting firm, consultants with experience as an attorney or government official may be able to make more money if they are capable of performing a wider variety of services, such as filing legal paperwork or appealing cases.
There are published salaries for similar careers--for instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for correctional officers and bailiffs was $43,510 as of 2017, and for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists it was $51,410. However, it is important to note that these occupations are bound to provide a steadier income than an independent consulting business could offer.
Some sources believe that, due to the recent economic downturn, demand has increased for this type of job. Harsher sentences for economic and corporate crimes may increase the number of white collar criminals seeking to hire outside consultants to assist with their cases. However, the BLS predicts either average or below average job growth for the two occupations mentioned above; career growth for correctional officers and bailiffs is expected to decrease by 7% between 2016 and 2026, while jobs for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists are expected to grow by 6% during that time period, which is considered average growth.
If you are interested in becoming a prison consultant, you may want to take a look at some similar law enforcement careers: