We celebrate National Correctional Officers Week in the first week of May — from May 7 to 13 this year. Former President Ronald Reagan established this week on May 5, 1984. He saw the need to create a week for correctional officers to thank them for their services and celebrate their contributions to society. Often, they are to make sure the court orders are seen through and implemented. During this week, various U.S. agencies honor correctional officers in our jails, prisons, and community correctional facilities by organizing different programs for them.
History of National Correctional Officer's Week
Back in 1871, prison staff was minimal. At the time, the Colorado Territorial Prison employed just one warden and six guards who were known as ‘turnkeys,’ since their jobs were primarily locking and unlocking the prisoners’ cells. This position paid about $25 per month and required no education or physical competency. For many years, the turnkeys were not very serious about their role since it demanded little from them. They rarely wore the proper uniform or maintained a professional appearance in front of the inmates.
In the 1940s, the prison budget increased while the large prison population decreased. This allowed prison administrators to broaden their expectations of correctional officers and make their jobs more interdisciplinary. Correctional officers began to be more professional and specialized.
In the 1950s, prison institutions became less intense and inmate programs reoriented with a rehabilitative philosophy. Penitentiaries came to be called correctional institutions, and prison guards became correctional officers. Correctional officers received a hike in their pay grade, a professional work environment, and advanced training to perform better in their careers.
In the 1990s, with the increase in inmate population, correctional institutions neglected their rehabilitation and their treatment was severe. Several institutions came under attack by the public for civil rights breaches and the ineffective treatment of their inmates. Correctional officers were also criticized for their ineptitude in dealing with overcrowding. As a response to this, correctional institutions altered their training modules again and emphasized professionalism in the correctional officers.
National Correctional Officer's Week timeline
The Egyptians introduce the earliest known jailing systems.
The facilities housing prisoners change from large rooms to vast correctional housing systems, focusing on rehabilitation, not only incarceration.
The method of punishment is changed from corporal to psychological punishment, hard labor, and transportation.
President Ronald Reagan establishes National Correctional Officer's Week on May 5.
National Correctional Officer's Week FAQs
What disqualifies you from becoming a correctional officer?
Having a criminal record disqualifies you from becoming a correctional officer.
Are correctional officers cops?
Yes. Correctional officers are law enforcement officers.
Do correctional officers carry firearms?
No, most correctional officers do not carry guns. However, at federal medium and maximum security institutions, they are required to carry firearms.
How to Observe National Correctional Officer's Week
Send a thank-you card
It takes nothing to say a small thank you. Let your local correctional officer know that their work matters.
Read up about the role
If you find this job interesting, the best way to start is by reading up about what the profession entails. Find your nearest library or browse the internet for more knowledge about the role.
Tweet about it
Show how much you appreciate correctional officers by tweeting about them every single day of the week. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #NationalCorrectionalOfficersWeek!
5 Facts About Correctional Officers
They need a high school diploma
A high school diploma is a minimum requirement to apply as a correctional officer.
They go through training before employment
They are trained at an academy run by the hiring agency or a private company where they learn prison policies, operations, and security procedures.
Most officers average $43,300 a year
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, up until May 2011, most correctional officers made about $43,300 a year.
The highest salary was $69,840 per year
The highest compensation received by correctional officers was about $69,840 per year in New Jersey.
A 5% increase in job prospects
Study reports reveal a 5% increase in jobs for correctional officers in the future because of population growth.
Why National Correctional Officer's Week is Important
They do important work
Correctional officers help keep our community safe. They also help rehabilitate offenders.
We celebrate their contribution
It is crucial for us to celebrate the efforts of correctional officers. They play an important role in keeping order within the facilities.
It is an unseen public service
Since correctional officers’ place of work is in a secure and private location, we often don’t see them as part of our public life. However, it is important to remember that they play a big role in ensuring public safety.
National Correctional Officer's Week dates