I am a Correctional Counselor at a County jail. My duties include providing inmates with resources and linking them to community treatment providers, housing, and employment services. I am also responsible for teaching cognitive behavioral classes, completing assessments, and providing court reports on inmate's progress at the facility.
How did you get into the field?
When I was 12 years old I was reading true crime books and began to be curious about criminal thought processes and decision making. I also imagined that many of these offenders came from difficult backgrounds and would need healthy support, resources, and coping skills to be successful going back into the community. I envisioned myself helping this population to prevent a "revolving door," effect.
Does your education background reflect what you do for work?
I thought I would need a degree in criminal justice to pursue this type of career and when I went to view the college, I met with a counselor who informed me that based on my interest in the psychology of criminals; they offer a concentration in Forensic Psychology as well as a Master's program in Forensic Psychology. Therefore, I completed a Bachelor's degree in Forensic Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice; I then completed a Master's degree in Forensic Psychology.
Give me three reasons why you like it?
1. It's the most rewarding position I have ever held because I receive a great deal of appreciation from the inmates while they are in custody, I receive phone calls from them after release reporting on their success and expressing gratitude, and I have had parents and deputies inform me of the positive changes they have seen in the inmates.
2. Along the same lines, I personally get to witness the change and growth these men make as they complete classes and learn trades at the facility. Watching them learn and practice the coping skills when dealing with their peers and deputies is also incredibly rewarding.
3. The facility at which I work is a place I can truly say I am proud of. I work at a Reentry facility that provides the inmates with a variety of cognitive behavioral therapy classes, classes that provide them with certifications that will help them obtain stable employment upon release, and vocational training that provides them with skills necessary to be successful in the community. We are developing Incentive Based Housing that will provide intensive treatment and vocational training while offering benefits such as a microwave to reinforce their good behavior and strong work ethic. Additionally, we are opening a Career Center at the facility that will focus on resume development, interview skills, and offer job interviews while the inmates are in custody so that they may leave with stable employment already in place. I believe that our facility is pioneering what I hope to be the future of corrections.
What would you consider the stress level of your current occupation (1-10, 10 being the highest)?
I have recently been tasked with developing the Incentive Based Housing program which requires curriculum development, interviewing approximately 100 inmates to be selective of our participants, finding volunteers to come into the facility to provide services, and purchasing all the necessary supplies including furniture! Therefore, I would say the stress level of my current position has recently changed from a 5 to a 7-8. I enjoy my job so much, I think it balances out the stress so I'm not at a 10.
If money was not an issue, would you still choose the same career path?
Absolutely, without a doubt, I would hold this exact position at this facility without pay (I would probably work 1-2 days less per week though!)
Did you always know this is the career path you wanted to take or were you diverted a few times?
I have always known that this is where I wanted to work and my current position is exactly what I envisioned myself doing! After only 5 months I received employee of the quarter and I believe this illustrates how successful you can be when you are passionate about your work, and love what you do!