The Importance of Using Ethics When Working as a Corrections Counselor

Corrections counselors must maintain professional, respectful relationships with inmates.

Corrections counselors must maintain professional, respectful relationships with inmates.

Corrections counselors work with inmates, helping peace officers maintain a safe environment within the facility and making adjustments to parole plans when necessary, according to the California Department of Human Resources. Corrections.com states that in 2009, 37 percent of corrections officers were women. Female counselors might work with male or female inmates to make recommendations about their progress, or help people transition in and out of the facility. The relationship between a corrections counselor and inmate can be sensitive or sometimes unstable, so corrections counselors should strictly adhere to professionally established codes of ethics.

Upholding Human Dignity

Corrections counselors work with people who are in jails and prisons, but that doesn't mean that inmates should be treated poorly, according to the American Correctional Association's code of ethics. Counselors have to make decisions by taking the best interests of the inmates into account. It’s important to prioritize the best interest of inmates, since they might not be able to advocate for themselves. The National Criminal Justice Reference Service's report, "An Ethical Dilemma in Corrections," states that unethical male corrections workers engaged in sexual misconduct with female inmates. Women might be assigned to be in direct contact with male prisoners, including supervision during strip searches or showers. Counselors shouldn't bargain or make negotiations based on perks for their own professional or personal advantage. Counselors should also refrain from discriminating against inmates because of their backgrounds.

Interacting with the Public

Prisons sometimes have a bad reputation because of their close dealings with people who have a criminal history. Because of this, corrections counselors should contribute to creating a positive understanding of the prison system and its inmates. Counselors shouldn't unnecessarily criticize colleagues, according to the American Correctional Association. You might need to provide information to the public, as long as this doesn't infringe upon the inmate’s right to privacy. Providing accurate information can help to protect the public from criminal activity.

Professional Development

Corrections counselors have an ethical obligation to remain current in the standards and norms for their profession, according to the International Corrections and Prisons Association. Knowledge should be regularly updated to reflect current practices, and counselors should regularly commit to professional development in order to better serve inmates. Cooperating with colleagues and outside agencies can increase access to information and sharing of best practices.

Personal Ethics

Corrections counselors are expected to uphold personal standards for behavior because of their close relationships with inmates, according to the California Department of Human Resources. Showing emotional maturity, being tactful and patient, and responding to emergencies whenever necessary are important for the inmate's safety and that of other prison employees. Corrections counselors are also expected to abstain from drug use; drug screenings are regularly incorporated as part of the hiring process.

 

About the Author

Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.

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