Once you have made the decision to become a correctional officer, you will need to be trained. However, training is something provided by the hiring agency. That means that you only have to have a high school diploma or a GED before applying. Once you have been hired, your agency will train you. The training generally happens at a centralized location that trains other correctional officers from both your agency, and other agencies across your state. You may be expected to spend the night in a hotel or dorm style housing during this time, but the training is thorough, intense, and it will teach you the basics of being a correctional officer.
How Is The Training Set Up?
The training is divided into a classroom portion and a hands-on portion that teaches physical skills. The classroom portion is generally in the style of a lecture complete with tests. This portion is going to cover legal issues and responsibility, codes and laws, the classroom portion of first-aid and CPR, and psychology and behavior.
Legal issues are one of the most areas for correctional officers. Civil rights, due process, and liability govern everything correctional officers do during their shifts. Failure to follow laws can result in serious injury, lawsuits, and even loss of jobs. Additionally, officers must know when and how to charge current inmates with breaking the law if it should happen. Training in the legal issues is one of the most intense and most confusing aspects of correctional officer training, but it is necessary to doing the job properly.
Psychology and behavior is very important to the correctional officer. The correctional officer must know which behaviors are warning flags and when to act. Inmates may have mental health issues, emotional problems, or be suicidal and the correctional officer must know what actions to take in response to concerning behavior. The classroom training for this teaches you what steps to take when you see certain behaviors as well as how to talk to upset, mentally ill, or suicidal inmates as well as how to prevent incidents of violence.
The hands-on training includes gun skills, restraint skills, first-aid/CPR, and physical conditioning. It, too, has tests that you must pass. Physical conditioning is a basic requirement. It ensures that you can do all of the physical aspects of the job. Your hiring agency probably already required you to pass a physical test, but training will require more physical activity. It generally includes running, push-ups, sit-ups, and lifting certain weights. The other hands-on skills all build upon this.
In addition to basic physical fitness, you will learn how to handle a weapon and also how to properly restrain someone. You will learn how to care for and fire a gun and you must meet certain requirements set by your agency. While correctional officers generally do not have reason to use a gun, accuracy is important in case there ever comes a time when you do need it. Properly restraining someone, on the other hand, is used by a correctional officer on a regular basis. This includes using handcuffs, leg restraints, masks to keep people from spitting, and the proper use of rip-hobbles. Restraints are used for securing and transporting inmates as well as restraining them from hurting themselves or others. In addition, you will learn to properly use a baton in order to subdue an inmate with minimal force and injury.
You will also learn first-aid and CPR. First-aid and CPR are taught in both the classroom and in a hands-on manner. This portion of the training is very important because a correctional officer never knows what will happen on his or her shift. A small fight between two inmates can result in cuts and bruises or even head injuries. An inmate or co-worker may choke on a meal or have a heart attack. The correctional officer is going to be the first person to respond to these kinds of emergencies and must be able to handle the situation.
The training is mentally and physically intense. However, the trainers are not out to trick you or send you home. The trainers are there to make sure that you have the proper tools and training in order for you to do your job. With a little bit of hard work, you will survive the training and become a full correctional officer.