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Life on the Installment Plan: Careers in Corrections

NCJ Number
Corrections Volume: 61 Issue: 7 Dated: December 1999 Pages: 84-147
John S. Shaffer
Date Published
5 pages
Findings from a 1996 survey of 740 employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections focus on characteristics of correctional employees, reasons people choose careers in corrections, employee recruitment strategies, and retention strategies.
Some of the characteristics of successful corrections professionals commonly cited by respondents included a sense of fairness, professionalism, integrity, common sense, intelligence, communication skills, patience, honesty, flexibility, and self-confidence. Reasons respondents gave for choosing a career in corrections were economic considerations, career growth opportunities, military orientation, law enforcement motivation, social work motivation, opportunistic life change, friends or family already employed in the field, power and control orientation, and personal "scrape with the law." Because this research shows that women, minorities, and those with college degrees often are attracted to corrections by a social work motivation, these individuals should be targeted for recruitment. More active recruitment for student interns at colleges and universities would generate a larger pool of potential recruits. A tuition reimbursement program would be an attractive recruitment incentive for many potential recruits. Other targets for recruitment are job fairs and State job centers. Once people are recruited into corrections, it is important to retain them. This article concludes with some suggestions for retention strategies. 3 tables and 8 references