A correctional officer’s day at work could be safe and quiet one minute, then completely the opposite the next. On an easy day, while assigned to watch over a housing unit full of 72 male inmates, an officer could possibly get attacked and get taken as a hostage at any moment. Safety awareness and precautions along with learning defensive tactics are tools that are taught in the academy. Most importantly, establishing a good rapport with the inmates is also imperative. Inmates can take control away from the officer if they really want to.
Every day, the entire shift staff meets to discuss various topics such as what happened during the previous shift and any memorandums and announcements from administration. This meeting is referred to as “Read Off”. During Read Off, officers are also informed of their assigned areas of work for the night. The term used to refer to officers’ assignment for the shift is called their “post”.
There are various posts in jail. While most posts are in housing units, few posts involve admitting new inmates and getting their information processed and entered into the system. The “intake receiving” and “intake processing” area are usually where the younger, more physically-capable officers are assigned because it is more fast-paced than the typical housing unit post.
Upon arrival to the facility, arresting officers usually request assistance from intake receiving officers if their inmate is uncooperative and combative. This is when correctional officer must attempt to deescalate inmates’ aggressive behavior in order to be able to book them. If all negotiations fail, then only the necessary force is used to gain control of the aggressive inmate.
Most of the posts in jail involve working in the housing units where inmates are housed. A typical day for an officer is unpredictable. Some days are better than others. A good rule of thumb is that if the officer is decent towards the inmates, then the inmates are pretty much decent to the officer. Despite the fact that there are always the occasional “bad apples”, the officer pretty much has control of how he/she wants his/her shift to go. It is important to establish authority early on during an officer’s shift. This way, the inmates know that the officer is not to be messed with. Consequently, the officer has to also be respectful and patient towards the inmates in order to gain the respect of the entire unit. It is important to find the happy medium when it comes to how an officer should supervise his inmates. Not knowing how your shift is going to be like is pretty much the most stressful part of the job. An officer has to find his or her way of supervising inmates that fits his or her personality and capability as an officer.
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