Correctional counselors work in jails and prisons. Their overarching task is to oversee the inmates at their facility, including their behavior, and help with their progress (such as by creating ways for inmates to learn how to cope with behavioral issues, helping them register for job training or GED programs, and considering which inmates could be released early). They also conduct questionnaires with inmates to discover their strengths and weaknesses to help figure out which jobs they are best suited for. Most correctional counselors work in federal or state detention facilities, but others work in care facilities or nursing, tending to inmates in need of physical and/or mental assistance.
A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is generally required for this position; some correctional counselors have master’s degrees as well. Most facilities require candidates to pass oral, psychological and physical tests to be considered for this position. Opportunities for advancement are available, often as part of the management of the facility. Inmates may be experiencing multiple types of issues, such as depression or drug addiction, so experience for rehabilitation in these matters is useful. Correctional counselors must understand how to react when inmates become aggressive or violent, as well as model appropriate behavior for inmates.
Correctional Counselor Tasks
Conduct or ensure regularly scheduled interviews with inmates.
Ensure inmates’ rights are protected and required services are provided.
Plan and coordinate inmate services and programs.
Write and submit regular reports.