OCCUPATION THESAURUS

CORRECTIONS OFFICER (PRISON GUARD)



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HELPFUL TIP:

How your character makes a living is an important decision. After all, there’s probably a good reason why they chose this career. Think about how they pull on certain talents and skills, have positive or negative traits, and adhere to a specific work ethic to excel. Sometimes characters choose an occupation because of how they were raised, something they experienced, or even an emotional wound, so consider how all of these things will show readers who they are deep down, and why they do what they do.
OVERVIEW:
A corrections officer works in a prison, guarding inmates serving out their sentences, ensuring they are afforded their legal rights while obeying facility rules and local laws. They rotate through different assignments, staffing different areas including the gatehouse, observation towers, unit deployments (accommodation wings, infirmary, recreation area, etc.). Some positions are very hands-on (such as new prisoner intakes, which require pat downs and inmate paperwork, escorting prisoners, and monitoring pod areas as prisoners engage in daily activities such as card-playing and TV watching). Other assignments include monitoring controls, running headcounts, room checks for contraband, and overseeing paperwork. They also may assist with vocational training for prisoners, helping them to make the best time of their incarceration both for personal wellness and to help them integrate with society upon release, and help inmates address behavioral issues that are tied to their offenses.

Corrections officers are responsible for the safety and rights of the inmates under their care as well as the safety of their fellow officers. Working in a prison is much different than portrayed on the screen, although no less dangerous. They may have to respond to fights, medical emergencies, and other incidents and know what to do in each situation, displaying complete authority. Despite needing to adhere to the same restricted spaces and routines as prisoners and the boredom that can result, correctional officers must remain alert and aware, which can be both physically and mentally draining. Inmates constantly test officers to determine any weak points, especially if the guard is someone new to them. They try to find out what gets under their skin, what bothers them, how to distract them, and where the lines are. Maintaining discipline by remaining professional, adhering to protocol, following through on one's word, and treating everyone equally will allow your character to command respect and establish a functional level of rapport.

Working in an environment where people lie consistently and they have done a variety of unconscionable crimes can lead your character to adopt a jaded or darker viewpoint, especially and it can be a challenge to stay above it by treating each prisoner equally regardless of their crimes. Depending on the jail environment (level of security, type of prisoners, the support of management, etc.) this career can lead to burn out. Officers able to hold to a calling of modeling good behavior to inmates in the hopes of making an impact and rehabilitation stand the best chance of keeping a healthy and balanced mental state.

NECESSARY TRAINING:
Non-federal prison require a high school diploma or a completed general equivalency diploma, while federal prisons require a bachelor's degree or three years of counseling and supervising others. Officers must also pass background checks and both a mental and physical health assessment.

New hires are usually placed in an academy and then also continue with on the job training. In addition to comprehensive education in facility procedures, institutional policies, and legal restrictions, officers receive training in firearms, learn self-defense, and are taught how to restrain, disarm, and neutralize prisoner threats.  If an officer is part of a tactical response unit they will be trained in how to respond to riots, hostage-taking, and any other dangerous situation that may occur. Training is usually ongoing, both to continually hone their skills and to keep them updated as new procedures and policies take effect.

USEFUL SKILLS, TALENTS, OR ABILITIES:

HELPFUL POSITIVE TRAITS:
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HELPFUL NEGATIVE TRAITS:
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EMOTIONAL WOUNDS THAT MAY HAVE FACTORED INTO THIS OCCUPATION CHOICE:
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SOURCES OF FRICTION:
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PEOPLE THEY MIGHT INTERACT WITH:
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HOW THIS OCCUPATION MIGHT IMPACT ONE'S BASIC NEEDS:
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REASONS THE CHARACTER MAY HAVE BEEN DRAWN TO THIS PROFESSION:
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