Correctional officers supervise individuals who have been arrested, are awaiting trial, or have been sentenced to jail or prison terms. Correctional officers working in state prisons and local jails must have a high school diploma and are required to go through an intensive training course.
Training courses for potential correctional officers are available through city and state police departments, but many colleges and universities also offer certificate and degree programs in criminal justice with a concentration in corrections.
Some common concepts covered in correctional officer classes include:
- Physical fitness
- Firearm operation and safety
- Criminal behavior
- Self-defense training
- Reporting and procedures
- CPR and emergency response training
- Offender rights and discipline
- Conflict management
List of Courses
Criminal Justice Course
Prospective correctional officers take criminal justice classes to gain familiarity with criminal law and the legal system. Study covers the categorization of offenses and the process leading from arrest to sentencing. Students learn the legal rights of inmates, parolees and those on probation. Ethical issues in corrections and the treatment of prisoners are also addressed.
This course provides an overview of the different types of correctional facilities and the methods of punishment and treatment currently employed in the American justice system. In addition to incarceration, community corrections options such as probation, parole and community service are discussed. Students learn the history of correctional law and the philosophy behind various policies.
Correctional Operations Course
This class familiarizes students with correctional facility procedures and the duties of a correctional officer. Coursework introduces patrols, inspections, and other security routines. Students learn to complete and file office paperwork such as surveillance logs and reports.
Human Relations in Corrections Course
Human relations classes focus on the importance of interpersonal skills in a correctional environment. Correctional officers must leverage these skills daily to mediate conflicts, reduce tension among prisoners, and explain rules in a clear and helpful manner. Students learn to maintain courtesy and professionalism in stressful situations. Classes also explain the effect of imprisonment on human psychology, and teach students to intervene and negotiate in situations of violence.
Firearms and Physical Defense Training Course
Correctional officers are often required to have formal training in self-defense techniques and the use of firearms. Instructors train students in marksmanship as well as the proper handling and safe use of firearms. Physical training includes both techniques for self-defense and methods for restraining and controlling subjects. Responsibility and safety are emphasized, and legal issues regarding use of force are discussed.
Crisis Management Course
Correctional officers must be prepared to handle a variety of emergency situations at a moment's notice. This class covers the procedures for handling riots and other outbursts as well as accidents such as fire. Students are also trained in first aid, as corrections officers are often first responders to incidents. Interpersonal skills come into play as students learn to regain and maintain control of emergency situations.