The first woman to work as a federal corrections officer was hired in 1978, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In federal and state facilities, the number of female corrections officers has greatly increased since then and women work in various supervisory capacities. A combination of inmate and officer supervision, work in this field can be exciting and fulfilling. If you desire employment in corrections, you have more opportunity than ever to secure a supervisory career.
Corrections supervisors must have management and coordination skills. You create work schedules for subordinate workers, so you must understand staffing needs and plan accordingly. As a supervisor, you also need good communication skills to direct your workers and speak with the warden or head of security. A corrections supervisor must be able to monitor the work of others, making assessments and disciplining officers when necessary. You should also have problem solving skills. Jail environments can be dangerous and as a supervisor, you must quickly respond to issues as they arise. Supervisors may also act as negotiators, reconciling differences between correction officers and prison officials.
Supervising the Officers
The major responsibility of a corrections supervisor is to monitor and direct the work of subordinate officers. You observe as they perform their duties and ensure that the security of the facility is being maintained. When officers act inappropriately, you may be held responsible for inadequate supervision. Corrections supervisors ensure that staff members are knowledgeable about all policies, regulations and procedures. You enforce rules and initiate disciplinary actions when necessary. You also complete required reports and document your duties on a regular basis.
Supervising the Inmates
Corrections supervisors work directly with inmates on a daily basis. You perform cell inspections, searching for contraband. Supervisors also assist subordinates in maintaining control over the prison. As a supervisor, you respond to emergencies in a timely and efficient manner, using appropriate force when necessary. The supervisor maintains an accounting of the inmate population at all times. You also monitor electronic surveillance of inmates, looking for potential problems within the population. Corrections supervisors respond to conflicts that arise between inmates. You may act in a counseling capacity, speaking directly with them and negotiating a resolution.
Becoming a Supervisor
Most state level correctional supervisors have earned a high school diploma or GED. The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires a college degree or at least three years of experience in counseling, teaching or supervision. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median income for correctional supervisors at $57,840 per year. According to the employment site O*Net Online, the job outlook for corrections supervisors is 3 to 9 percent between 2010 and 2020.
Erika Winston is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, with more than 15 years of writing experience. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Imara, Corporate Colors E-zine and Enterprise Virginia. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University and a Masters in public policy from New England College.