Correctional officers’ eligibility criteria
There are strict rules in the hiring of correctional officers both in federal and state prisons; the main reason of these is based on the fact that the working conditions of the officers are quite stressful and hazardous. In addition, the correction officers have a law enforcement responsibility outside the institutions they are working for. Due to the difference in level of working conditions and responsibility of correctional officers in federal prisons there is a higher hiring age limit of 22 to 37while that of the state prison is 18 to 37. Though the two types of correction officers retire at the same time, at the age of 57, the law is quite strict on the entry age (Common wealth of Virginia).
The main reason behind the difference in the hiring age of the correctional officers is brought about by the additional responsibilities of federal prison officers. Federal prisons are in most cases managed by the government and quite congested. They also act as the sole mentor for the prisoners as well as assist in rehabilitation and maintaining jail security. It is essential to maintain age limits but I strongly feel that setting the age limits to 2 or 18 for correctional guards is quite low. This is because all the correctional guards or officers require sufficient amount of knowledge and skill to effectively perform their duties and the ages of below 23 cannot have these sufficient skills. The officers should be at least 25 to ensure that they hold basic high school education as well as have enough time dealing for after school responsibilities such as independence, responsibility, tolerance and so on (Joad, 2013). Before practicing as correctional officers, there should be enough time for training on criminal laws, security issues and rehabilitation and all these cannot be sufficiently attained at the age of 22.
Rather than the age qualification to qualify for the position they must also hold a bachelors degree for a recognized college with a specialization on a Criminal justice related course. However, most institutions also accept a Bachelors degree on any concentration from a credited college if the person also has at least two years experience in a related field.
Response to Discussion boards
I do support Tamara Douglass argument that correctional officers should be bid by higher age limits especially if they are to perform in federal prisons. It is true that at the age of 18, they cannot have gained the necessary expertise required for the position. However, I do not agree that at the age of 20 the correctional officer is set to take up the duties fully. At the age of 20 the correctional officer should still work under the supervision or assistance of a senior officer in the prison corridors. A 20 year old officer cannot be effective in acting as a sole mentor to the hundreds of prisoners in the prisons today as well as have the ability to monitor all security concerns in the prison.
The post by John Coleman is quite brief but factual. I do appreciate his argument that correctional officers are the sole mentors in the prisons and therefore they should have sufficient training, knowledge and skills before taking up the job. Though Coleman exaggerates that they can only gained the required skills at a minimum age of 27, his arguments are quite realistic and applicable to both federal and state prisons.
Common wealth of Virginia. Retrieved from: https://jobs.agencies.virginia.gov/applicants/jsp/shared/position/JobDetails_css.jsp
Davenport, D. (2001). State of Arizona Office of the Auditor General Performance Audit: Arizona Department of Corrections. Sunset Factors
Tracy, S. J. (2004). The construction of correctional officers: Layers of emotionality behind bars. Qualitative Inquiry
Joad, G. (2013) The health care crisis in the US Prison System: International Committee of the Fourth International. Retrieved from https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/02/20/pris f20.html
Statewide Human Resource Management. (2012) State of Connecticut Correction Officer Selection Process. Statewide The Department of Administrative Services