Prison officer

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Prisons officer (Jailor)
Old turnkey.jpg
A turnkey of a Paris prison, 19th century
NamesCorrectional officer,

Corrections officer, Correctional Police Officer, Detention officer,

Detention deputy.
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Law enforcement
CompetenciesSee Working environment
Education required
See Training
Fields of
Prisons, jails
Related jobs
Police officer

A prison officer or corrections officer is a uniformed official responsible for the custody, supervision, safety, and regulation of prisoners. They are responsible for the care, custody, and control of individuals who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment. They are also responsible for the security of the facility and its property as well as other law enforcement functions. Most prison officers or corrections officers are employed by the government of the jurisdiction in which they operate, although some are employed by private companies that provide prison services to the government.

Terms for the role[edit]

Historically, terms such as "jailer" (also spelled "jailor" or "gaoler"), "jail guard", "prison guard", "turnkey"[1] and "warder"[2] have all been used.

The term "prison officer" is now used for the role in the UK[3] and Ireland.[4] It is the official English title in Denmark,[5] Finland,[6] and Sweden.[7]

The term "corrections officer" or "correction officer" is used in the US[8][9] and New Zealand.[10]

The term "Correctional Police Officer" or "CPO" is used in the New Jersey. Due to the law enforcement status and authority of New Jersey's officers. New Jersey's officers employed by the Department of Corrections are classified as "Police Officers".[11][12]NJ Legislation: Correctional Police Officer Statute

"Correctional officer" is used in Australia,[13] Canada,[14][15][16] Jamaica,[17] and the US.[18]

"Detention officer" is used in the US,[19] as is the term "penal officer".[20]

The official who is in charge of a specific prison is known by various titles, including: "warden" (US and Canada), "governor" (UK and Australia), "superintendent" (South Asia) or "director" (New Zealand), respectively "Direktor" or "Gefängnisdirektor" (Germany).


US Marshals and prisoners on board a Con Air flight

Prison officers must maintain order and daily operations of the facility and are responsible for the care, custody, and control of inmates. A correction officer has a responsibility to control inmates who may be dangerous, and that society themselves do not wish to accommodate. An officer must always prevent disturbances, assaults, and escapes by supervising activities and work assignments of inmates. Officers have a responsibility to protect themselves, other officers, inmates, and the public from assault by other inmates. Correctional officers must also protect inmates from harming themselves or committing suicide. An officer must be alert and aware of any and all movement taking place inside the facility. Prevention is one of the key components of an officer's duties. Officers can utilize prevention by routinely searching inmates and their living quarters for potential threats such as weapons, drugs, or other contraband. Officers should remain assertive and in most situations refuse to back down. An officer shall hold offenders who violate facility policy accountable for their actions when rules are violated. This is usually done through on the spot corrections, a formal disciplinary process, or through the legal process in extreme circumstances. Correction officers must take full concern for the health and safety of the facility. Officers check for unsanitary conditions, fire hazards, and/or any evidence of tampering or damage to locks, bars, grilles, doors, and gates. Fire and severe weather drills may be common. Officers may screen all incoming and outgoing mail for select high risk offenders. All prison staff, regardless of position, volunteers, visitors, new court commit, and offenders returning from off ground, are searched prior to entry. This aides in the reduction of contraband being introduced into the facility. These routine searches often employ hand held or walk through metal detectors, and baggage x-ray machines. Under certain instances, a canine, pat/frisk, full strip, and vehicle (if parked on facility grounds) search may be conducted. Correction officers are responsible for transporting inmates to other facilities, medical appointments, court appearances, and other approved locations. In the US, these trips are most often local, but may be across the entire country. Correction officers may assist police officers on/off duty depending on their peace officer status and jurisdiction.[21]


Corrections officers' training will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction as well as facility to facility depending on the legislated power given, the nature of the facilities, or even the socioeconomics of the region. Training may be provided by external agencies or at the facility with a peer-group or supervisor instructor.

In North America, standard training usually includes:

Many jurisdictions have also, in recent years, expanded basic training to include:

Most institutions in the United States have a crisis resolution team of some sort, though these vary in name (i.e., Crisis Resolution Team or CRT, Special Response Team or SRT, Correctional Emergency Response Team or CERT, Crisis and Emergency Respose Team also CERT, Special Security Team or SST, Special Operations And Response Team or SORT). These teams take on a role similar to a Police SWAT team, but are tailored to the prison setting. Though these vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, they typically must pass a very physically demanding course lasting a week or more.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ontario Provincial Secretary and the Inspector of Prisons' report on the Toronto Central Prison Archived 15 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 29 November 2011
  2. ^ "warder, n.1". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  3. ^ "Working for HMPS". UK Government. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  4. ^ Irish Prison Service – Recruitment Archived 17 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 29 November 2011
  5. ^ The Danish Prison and Probation Service – General Information, page 5 Archived 17 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2012-07-07
  6. ^ The Training Institute for Prison and Probation Services, Finland Retrieved 29 November 2011
  7. ^ Swedish Prison and Probation Service – Fact Sheet. Retrieved 29 November 2011
  8. ^ Indeed: Corrections Officer Salary Retrieved 2012-07-07
  9. ^ Yukon Department of Justice website Retrieved 29 November 2011
  10. ^ New Zealand Department of Corrections – Job Description. Retrieved 29 November 2011
  11. ^ NJ Civil Service: Correctional Police Officer Retrieved 2021-06-13
  12. ^ NJ Civil Service: County Correctional Police Officer Retrieved 2021-06-13
  13. ^ Queensland Corrective Services – Employment Information Retrieved 2012-07-07
  14. ^ Correctional Service Canada – Correctional officer job profile Archived 24 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 29 November 2011
  15. ^ Ontario Correctional Services – Careers Retrieved 29 November 2011
  16. ^ British Columbia Corrections – Employment Information Retrieved 29 November 2011
  17. ^ Jamaica Department of Correctional Service – Roles of Correctional Officer Archived 21 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 29 November 2011
  18. ^ US Department of Labor – Correctional Officer job statistics Retrieved 29 November 2011
  19. ^ FBI Atlanta: Former Fulton County Detention Officer Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison Retrieved 2012-07-07
  20. ^ Career Occupational Profile for: Penal Officer Retrieved 2014-03-17
  21. ^ "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition". Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.