On any given day, over 100,000 young people are incarcerated in juvenile detention centers around the United States. Facilities range from emergency overnight centers, to specialized work camps, to the equivalent of an adult-level prison, depending on the reason for detainment. Populations can fluctuate greatly, leading to issues of overcrowding and challenged resource management. With such high demand in this critical field, it is easy to see why career prospects for juvenile corrections officers are not only strong but growing rapidly.
What does a juvenile corrections officer do?
The primary responsibility for juvenile corrections officers (JCOs) is to maintain a secure facility in several ways, which include interacting directly with youth inmates, conducting security checks, investigating suspicious activity, and minimizing opportunities for dangerous or hostile situations to occur. JCOs also facilitate positive individual and group encounters geared toward rehabilitation and productive re-entry into society. They are trained as counselors, developing personal relationships with each of the youth in their charge.
JCOs expedite communications among the youth in both formal and informal institutional settings. They also supervise interactions with families, the court, and other members of the juvenile corrections team, which may include therapists, educators, social workers, and legal representatives. They prepare individual progress reports, develop sentencing recommendations, and process incoming and outgoing inmates.
Juvenile corrections officers generally work in agencies at the local, county or state level. Unlike jails and prisons, not all youth inmates are convicted criminals. Reasons for youth incarceration can range from violent offenses to mental health issues to abandonment by their legal guardians, which makes the responsibilities of the JCO both vital and multi-faceted. JCOs are considered mentors and role models for their charges, and must be able to interact with all youth inmates equally and fairly, sustaining positive responses through long hours, verbal abuse, and intense emotional situations.
What kind of training does a juvenile corrections officer need?
While the minimum educational requirement for juvenile corrections officers is a high school diploma, most agencies require an Associate degree in law or criminal justice. Job opportunities increase significantly for candidates who have earned a Bachelor degree in this subject. Most juvenile detention facilities require an extensive background check and also provide introductory training programs from three to ten weeks in length.
What are the prospects for a career in juvenile corrections?
For anyone considering whether and how to become a juvenile corrections officer, the good news is that the employment prospects are considered strong. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicates strong employment prospects for all corrections officers, including juvenile corrections officer jobs. Employment rates are expected to grow by about 16% (about 18,000 jobs), by 2016 for all specialties.
How much do juvenile corrections officers make?
Juvenile Corrections Officer salaries start at about $28,000 annually. With advancement in this career to senior management positions, potential earnings can reach $58,000 or more.
A juvenile corrections officer career is best suited for people who want to make a difference in the lives of young people. The career is guaranteed to be challenging, but also highly rewarding. The strong employment outlook and critical nature of this field make it an excellent choice for law and criminal justice program graduates.
Becoming a Juvenile Corrections Officer Requires Training, Start Today
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