There is a continuous need for qualified and dedicated law and security officers throughout all stages of the criminal justice system. Police officers are on the front lines dealing with crime as it happens on the streets, arresting suspects when necessary, and handing them over to our courts for our legal system to review and process each case. So what happens a little further down legal road when offenders are convicted and sentenced to a period of incarceration? This is where our correctional system takes over, with correctional officers playing a pivotal role in protecting society and facilitating the rehabilitation and eventual reintegration of prisoners back into the community.
Correctional Officers Play a Vital Role in Criminal Justice
The vital role that correctional officers play in the criminal justice system cannot be overstated. Most incarcerated offenders are released from jails or prisons, typically with some form of community supervision or parole, but they are essentially freed:
More than 8 in 10 adults under correctional supervision in the provinces and territories in 2013/2014 were in the community (82%) and the remaining 18% were in custody. Statistics Canada
The questions is: what are these men and women going to be like when they are released? Will they become more hardened and likely to commit further crimes upon their release, or will they be rehabilitated, with the tools to make it as law-abiding, productive member of society. This all depends on their experience within the prison walls and fences, which is essentially controlled and policed by correctional officers and managers.
Correctional officers must strike the right balance between maintaining the security of the institutions they manage, such a preventing escapes, reducing violence and criminal activity, while upholding human rights and facilitating opportunities for rehabilitation in some of the most dangerous and tense environments imaginable. This takes a certain strength of character, presence of mind and dedication to the job of being a correctional officer, from which our entire society benefits.
Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) Jobs
The largest and perhaps most significant prison department in our country is the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), which is responsible for the incarceration and supervision of the most serious offenders. CSC manages approximately 20% of all adult prisoners under some type of correctional supervision, and plays a critical role in maintaining public safety through success rehabilitation and reintegration of the federal prison population back into society:
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is a key player in public safety. We are responsible for the supervision and reintegration of offenders serving sentences of two years or more. On a typical day, we manage approximately 15,000 offenders placed within our 43 institutions and more than 8,500 offenders under supervision in the community. Correctional Service of Canada
Being a federal correctional officer is a tough, but very important job. These officers, are responsibility for facilitating the movement of inmates within the prisons, safety checks and searches for contraband, such as drugs and weapons, and generally maintaining the safe conduct and good order prisons full of hundreds of offenders serving long sentences for very serious crimes:
“Being a correctional officer, one of the most important things you’ve got to be able to do is you’ve got to be alert and prepared to react to anything,” said Robert Decker, a correctional services officer at the Collins Bay Institution, a federal correctional facility in Kingston. “We’ve got to be able to handle a variety of difficult situations.” The Globe and Mail
Federal correctional officers are well paid with initial salaries starting at $55,970 and ranging up to $74,985 with additional pay for supervisors and facility managers up to $88,683. There is also very good job security and upward mobility within the correctional system management, for those officers willing to further their training and education.
Short-term job prospects for new officers in CSC, however, are somewhat limited at the moment:
Within federal correctional service institutions, career opportunities are more difficult to come by, according to Mr. Decker. “It’s somewhat competitive right now,” he said, “because of the closing of a few institutions, and the population for federal offenders is dropping somewhat, too. It depends on how many federal offenders are in custody at the time.” Globe and Mail
High Demand for Provincial Corrections Officers
In many provincial correctional facilities, for inmates with a sentence of less than two years of incarceration, there is currently a shortage of available correctional officers, to the degree that some institutions require frequent full, or partial lockdowns due to staff shortages:
There were 900 lockdowns in Ontario’s provincial jails due to staff shortages last year, a figure that has more than tripled since 2009. The full and partial lockdowns, which can last a day or several days, were triggered by shortages of staff including correctional officers and managers. There were 259 lockdowns in 2009. Toronto Star
Provincial correctional officers do much the same job as their federal counterparts, but pay, training and admission requirements and job opportunities vary from province to province.
Not only are there many staff shortages in various provincial facilities that need to be filled, when new institutions open they need to be staffed by qualified individuals living within reasonable proximity to the institution, for example:
BC Corrections invites South Okanagan residents interested in becoming correctional officers to attend information sessions in Osoyoos, Penticton and Oliver. With the new Okanagan Correctional Centre slated to open in 2016, creating more than 240 correctional officer positions in the area, these sessions will help prepare those interested for the next steps in the process. Ministry of Justice, British Columbia
Considering a Career in Corrections?
If you’re considering a career in law enforcement and security, the various correctional services across Canada present some interesting and attractive job opportunities to have a positive impact on vital areas of the criminal justice system. Fill out our online jobs application profile so that we can let various law enforcement and security agencies know that you’re interested in working for them!