The police are heroes on the front line. The district attorney is hard-nosed but fair. The defense is a champion for the underdog. The judge is wise, strong and authoritative. And the correctional officer is a corrupt, violent brute. Sound familiar? Television shows, movies, and even media coverage frequently stick to the same tropes, and it’s the exception, not the rule, to see correctional officers doing the right thing. In fact, in a study of media coverage of correctional officers in the U.S., researchers found that correctional officers are portrayed negatively nearly 80% of the time. So what can we, as the hardworking professionals who ARE doing the right thing, do to counteract this perception?
Jails are physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging workplaces, and even the most effective correctional officers can use periodic reminders, training, tools, and resources for continued success. In our ongoing conversations with jail staff and leadership across the country, we’ve compiled a list of the top skills COs can build to stay in control and injury-free.
Twice as many correctional officers suffer from PTSD as military veterans. For every correctional officer killed in the line of duty, 10 more take their own lives. Mental health concerns among correctional officers are very real, and they’re not going away. It’s time to start talking about it.