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California Corrections Officer Job Description

Correctional Officer is an entry-level-class job in California. Candidates who are accepted for the position attend a 16-week training program followed by a two-year apprenticeship at a correctional institution. Candidates must be willing to relocate to work at any of the more than 30 correctional facilities located throughout the state.

Correctional officers in California earn a monthly salary of $3,050 while at the academy and $3,774 and up after the academy with a top pay of $6,144 per month.

California is also home to a large number of federal correctional facilities, community corrections centers and administrative offices. The federal correctional facilities include

  • Federal Correctional Institution Herlong—houses 1,715 males in medium and minimum facilities
  • Federal Correctional Institution Dublin—houses 1,425 males and females in low and minimum  security
  • U.S. Penitentiary Atwater—Houses 1,604 males in high security prison and a low security camp
  • Federal Correctional Institution Mendota—houses 757 male inmates in medium and minimum custody
  • Federal Correctional Complex—includes U.S. Penitentiary Lompoc which holds 1,479 male inmates in medium security, and 512 males in a minimum security camp, as well as FCI Lompoc which houses 1,481 males in low security
  • Metropolitan Detention Center Los Angeles—houses 913 males and females in detention
  • Federal Correctional Institution Terminal Island—houses 1,166 males in low security
  • Metropolitan Correctional Center San Diego—holds 964 males and females awaiting trial or transition
  • Federal Correctional Complex—Includes a 1,490 population high security U.S. penitentiary, and two medium security facilities housing 3,515 males

Job Description of Correctional Officer in California

A correctional officer’s responsibilities differ with the facility design, geographic location, number of inmates, security level of inmates and assignment area, such as inmate housing units, kitchen, yard, towers, reception areas, gun ports or control booths. An officer’s duties may include any of the following:

  • Subdue/restrain inmates
  • Escort inmates to and from work assignments or activities
  • Stand guard at armed posts
  • Oversee inmate work
  • Inspect inmate quarters for contraband
  • Conduct body searches
  • Handle emergency situations
  • Do surveillance from towers
  • Examine incoming/outgoing mail
  • Write reports and memoranda

Minimum Requirements for Correctional Officer Jobs in California

Federal Correctional Officers 

Federal correctional officers may join the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the GS-5 level with these qualifications:

  • U.S. citizen (Some hard to fill positions may permit non-citizen hiring)
  • At least 21 years of age and younger than 37
  • No serious criminal history
  • No history of financial delinquency
  • Bachelor’s degree; or
  • At least three years of full time experience in
    • Supervision or management
    • Sales of services or products
    • Teaching
    • Child care
    • Security
    • Counseling
    • Religious instruction
    • Emergency response
 

More qualified applicants have the option of entering the BOP at the GS-6 if they meet one or both of these requirements:

  • Have completed at least 14 quarter hours or nine semester hours of graduate coursework in
    • Social science
    • Law
    • Criminal justice
  • Have at least one year of full time experience in
    • Law enforcement
    • Mental health treatment
    • Corrections

The salary for GS-5 employees is between $31,315 and $40,706, while GS-6 employees earn salaries ranging from $34,907 toi $45,376.

State Correctional Officers

  • U.S. citizen (or applicant) at least 21 years old
  • High school graduate (GED acceptable)
  • No felony convictions
  • Good physical condition
  • Eligible to possess/use firearms
  • Knowledge of the purposes and methods of custodial discipline
  • Ability to do basic arithmetic
  • Competence in English grammar and spelling
  • Capable of remembering names and faces
  • Ability to control and instruct inmates
  • Be Emotionally stable
  • Possess a sympathetic and objective understanding of persons in custody

Hiring Process for Correctional Officer in California

Federal Bureau of Prisons

The hiring process for federal correctional officer jobs in California begins by searching for open positions on www.USAJobs.gov.  Applicants must complete a questionnaire verifying they are eligible for correctional officer jobs.  An application may be submitted online, along with digital uploads of supporting documents like transcripts, resumes and military veteran documents.

Following approval, candidates will be asked to interview with hiring personnel and submit to an intensive background investigation.  A medical officer will also conduct a urinalysis drug screen as well as a medical checkup.

California Department of Corrections

The hiring process for those interested in learning how to become a California correctional officer may take as long as a year. Candidates who meet the basic requirements must progress through the following steps to be eligible for correctional officer jobs in California. Each component must be successfully completed before moving on to the next.

  • Written general knowledge examination
  • Vision test
  • Physical fitness test
  • Fingerprinting
  • Pre-investigation interview and background investigation
  • Written psychological test and oral psychological evaluation
  • Medical exam
  • Job offer

Training Academy

Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy

The 200 hour training program for federal correctional officers includes 80 hours of orientation held at the officer’s assigned facility.  This is followed by a three week training program held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA.  This program will include

  • Physical Abilities Test
  • Correctional policies and procedures
  • Firearms training
  • Self-defense

After the first year, federal correctional officers are required to receive between 16 and 40 hours of additional training each year.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Academy

All new hires attend a 16-week training program at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Academy in Gail, a suburb of Sacramento. Cadets at the para-military-style academy are physically, mentally and emotionally challenged each and very day. Classroom and field classes are given in such courses as:

  • Physical fitness
  • Firearms, expandable baton and impact weapons training
  • Arrest/control tactics
  • Chemical agents
  • Restraint devices
  • Laws of arrest/rules of evidence
  • Report writing
  • Sociology of prison gangs
  • Constitutional rights and rights of the confined
  • The effect and use of force

Corrections Officer Salary in California

In California, correctional officers are paid at various salary ranges based on their experience, level of advancement, and the level of training they’ve completed:

Correctional Officer:

  • Range A: $36,600
  • Range B: $43,128 to $49,848
  • Range C: $57,768 to $70,212
  • Range J: $45,288 to $52,344
  • Range K: $60,660 to $73,728

Correctional Sergeant:

  • $68,100 to $82,704

According to the U.S. Department of Labor the median correctional officer salary in California as of 2012 was $72,120.

Below are some of the correctional officer salaries in California cities as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bakersfield-Delano CA
4360
Estimate Not Released
Fresno CA
1450
63700
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA Metropolitan Division
3780
56130
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana CA
4690
55370
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward CA Metropolitan Division
480
65080
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario CA
4970
67240
Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville CA
1840
71900
Salinas CA
1800
70430
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos CA
2510
60740
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA
1710
69870
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City CA Metropolitan Division
1230
71740
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine CA Metropolitan Division
910
52200
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta CA
500
61190
Mother Lode Region of California nonmetropolitan area
1000
72910
Eastern Sierra Region of California nonmetropolitan area
50
55510
North Coast Region of California nonmetropolitan area
940
71430
North Valley Region of California nonmetropolitan area
60
56020
Northern Mountains Region of California nonmetropolitan area
1430
69580

Fresno County, California Corrections Officer Job Description

As of April 2014, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) had a total inmate population of 188,357, along with an additional 947 inmates at the State’s Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility: FCI Mendota. The CDCR estimates that it will need to hire an additional 7,000 correctional officers over the next three years due to a wave of impending retirements.

Within Fresno County, California, there are two correctional institutions, one of which is a federal correctional institution and one of which is a state correctional institution:

  • Bureau of Prisons (BOP), FCI Mendota: A medium-security federal correctional institution in Mendota, Fresno County, which includes an adjacent, minimum-security satellite camp.
  • Pleasant Valley State Prison: Serves medium- and maximum-security custody inmates in Coalinga, Fresno County; provides mental health services, diagnostic evaluation and treatment, and mental health crisis bed housing

The Necessary Requirements to Become a Federal Correctional Officer in Fresno

Individuals interested in working for the BOP and becoming a federal correctional officer in Fresno County, California, must be able to meet the minimum requirements for employment, which include being a United States citizen, possessing a high school diploma or GED, and being between the ages of 21 and 36 at the time of appointment.

Candidates must also, at a minimum, possess one of the following to meet the requirements of the GS-5 level:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university

OR

  • At least three years of general work experience in areas such as emergency medical response, commissioned sales, guidance/teaching, supervising/managing, or counseling.

Individuals who want to meet the requirements of the GS-6 level through education must possess at least 9 semester hours of graduate study from an accredited college or university in one or more of the following areas:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Sociology
  • A closely related field, such as law

Individuals may also qualify at the GS-6 level through experience if they possess an additional one year of full-time experience working as a park ranger, sheriff, police officer, detention officer, or border patrol agent, or if they have gained their experience by working as an employee at a mental health residential facility or supervising inmates in a jail.

The Necessary Requirements to Become a California State Correctional Officer

Individuals interested in working for one of the CDCR’s correctional institutions, including Pleasant Valley State Prison, in Fresno County, must apply for a position as a correctional peace officer through the CDCR.

All applicants for California State correctional officer jobs must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Be in excellent physical condition
  • Be eligible to own/operate a firearm (i.e., no felony convictions or domestic violence misdemeanor convictions)

The employment process to becoming a CDRD correctional officer includes the successful completion of a written examination and qualifications assessment, both of which are by appointment only and both of which are designed to assess a candidate’s experience, knowledge, and skills.

Individuals must also be able to pass a physical fitness test, which is designed to assess a candidate’s strength, endurance, flexibility, and agility.

Other aspects of the employment process include:

  • Fingerprinting
  • Pre-investigatory interview
  • Background investigation
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Vision test
  • Medical examination
  • 16-week academy training

Kern County, California Corrections Officer Job Description

Kern County, California, encompasses a number of larger cities, including Bakersfield, the county seat, which has more than 347,000 residents. This southern California County, which borders both Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, is home to no less than four California State correctional facilities:

  • Kern Valley State Prison, Delano
  • North Kern State Prison, Delano
  • Wasco State Prison, Wasco
  • California Correctional Institution, Tehachapi

How to Become a California Correctional Peace Officer in Kern County

To work as a California correctional peace officer in Kern County, individuals must meet the minimum requirements of the CDCR, which include:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must hold a high school diploma or GED

In a competitive job market, correctional officer job candidates are more and more often opting to enhance their credentials through college courses. It is common for aspiring correctional officers to pursue an associate’s degree in criminal justice, law enforcement or a related field in order to become more familiar with legal procedures within a correctional facility, state and federal law, as well as the American criminal justice system.

All candidates must be in good physical condition and must be able to pass a written examination, physical examination, psychological evaluation, and a background investigation, among others, to be hired with the CDCR. They must also complete a 16-week Basic Correctional Officer Academy at the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center in Galt (Sacramento) and take a weapons training course before reporting to the academy.

The Basic Correctional Officer Academy (BCOA) encourages new cadets to develop their analytical, writing, and memory retention skills, while also maintaining and building their physical fitness. All cadets who have successfully completed the BCOA must report directly to their assigned correctional facility.

Kern County State Correctional Facilities: Current Statistics

All California State correctional facilities are under the management of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Within Kern County, the CDCR oversees:

Kern Valley State Prison: Kern Valley State Prison is a Level IV correctional institution that consists of four facilities and two administrative segregation units. This facility also includes a Level I minimum support facility. Kern Valley State Prison, as of FY 2013/2014, had 1,545 employees and an annual operating budget of $155 million.

North Kern State Prison: North Kern State Prison serves as a facility for processing all new inmates from counties located in the southern part of the state, as well as some located in the northern part of the state. It also functions as the transportation center for CDCR facilities in the state’s central and southern regions. It includes both a general population, medium-custody correctional center and a minimum support facility. It has 1,393 employees and an annual budget of $187 million.

Wasco State Prison: Wasco State Prison serves as a reception center and a short-term housing facility that processes, classifies, and evaluates new inmates to determine their security level, program requirements, and institutional placement. It also contains a 400-bed medium-custody facility to house the general population.

California Correctional Institution: California Correctional Institution has a staff of 1,125 and an annual operating budget of $127 million.

Lassen County, California Corrections Officer Job Description

Lassen County, which is located in the northeastern section of California, near the Nevada border, is home to one Bureau of Prisons (BOP) managed federal facility.

FCI Herlong is a medium-security BOP correctional institution that includes a minimum security satellite camp. There are currently 1,648 inmates at FCI Herlong, which includes 1,524 inmates at the FCI and an additional 124 inmates at the adjacent camp.

Requirements for Becoming a Federal Correctional Officer in Lassen County

Individuals who want to learn how to become a BOP correctional officer in Lassen County and work at FCI Herlong must be at least 21 and no older than 37 at the time of their appointment, unless they have a background as a federal civilian law enforcement officer. Further, all candidates must be able to meet the minimum education and/or experience requirements at the GS-5 federal level, as set forth by the Federal Bureau of Prisons:

  • Must possess a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, in any field; examples of typical degrees pursued by individuals interested in federal corrections work include:
    • Criminal justice
    • Criminology
    • Sociology
    • Police science

OR

  • At least three years of full-time general experience in areas such as:
    • Counseling
    • Providing assistance or guidance to individuals
    • Supervising or managing
    • Teaching or instructing
    • Responding to emergency situations
    • Commissioned sales

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Facilities in Lassen County

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) expects to hire more than 7,000 correctional officers over the next three years due to an increase in retirements. There are currently more than 1,800 California correctional officers retiring every year. Therefore, the CDCR reports that in some cases, the need to fill peace officer positions is urgent.

There are two California state prisons in Lassen County:

  • High Desert State Prison (HDSP), Susanville, California: The HDSP is a high-security level (Level IV) and medium-security level (Level III) California State prison. It also serves as a reception center for new commitment, parole violators with a new term and parole violator inmates for 10 Northern California counties. The maximum capacity for this California prison is 4,500 inmates.
  • California Correctional Center, Susanville, California: The California Correctional Center (CCC) receives, houses, and trained minimum-custody inmates before they are placed into one of the State’s 18 Northern conservation camps. The CCC works alongside the California Department of Forestry and Fire protections, which have camps throughout the northern part of the state for the purpose of providing fire suppression hand crews and for working on public conservation projects.

How to Become a California Correctional Officer in Lassen County

Qualifications – To become a California state correctional officer in Lassen County, individuals must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Possess a high school diploma
  • Be at least 21 years old (and 21 at the time of their appointment)

The employment process for California State correctional officers includes the completion of:

  • A written test
  • A qualifications assessment
  • A physical fitness test
  • A psychological evaluation
  • A medical examination
  • A background investigation

Training – Candidates for CDCR correctional officer jobs should expect the employment process to last anywhere from 9 to 12 months. Once hired, new CDCR correctional officers must complete a 16-week, paid training academy program at the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center in Galt.

Cadets can expect to earn around $3,050 a month, including benefits, during their training period; thereafter, the starting salary for California State correctional officers is $3,744 a month.

Lost Angeles County, California Corrections Officer Job Description

With 9,935,475 residents, Los Angeles (L.A.) County is the most populated county in the U.S. and its 4,752 square miles hold many correctional facilities. These institutions are under the jurisdiction of three separate law enforcement agencies:

  • The federal Bureau of Prisons
  • The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • The L.A. Sheriff’s Department

How to Become a Corrections Officer in Los Angeles County

Federal, state and sheriff’s department corrections officer jobs in Los Angeles County require candidates that are U.S. citizens in excellent physical condition with no felony convictions and at least a high school diploma. However, those interested in learning how to become a correctional officer Los Angeles County, should note the differences in requirements between these agencies:

Federal Bureau of Prisons

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college/university OR three years full-time paid experience in an occupation that involves guiding and directing others, such as social worker, probation officer, clergy, teacher, nurse, security guard or day care worker.
  • Less than 37 years old.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

  • At least 21 years old
  • Eligible to possess a firearm
  • Valid California driver’s license
  • Willing to re-locate anywhere in the state
  • Able to attend a formal 16-week training academy

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Facilities in L.A. County

The state correctional facility near the city of Lancaster includes five separate housing units for both minimum- and maximum-security male inmates that range from open dormitories to secure cells, as well as units designed to meet American Disability Act requirements. The focus is on productivity and self-improvement through the provision of academic classes, a soap manufacturing work unit, self-help groups and an Enhanced Outpatient Healthcare medical hub.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Correctional Facilities

The sheriff’s department has jurisdiction over numerous correctional facilities in the county, including small jails attached to police stations. The most important are:

  • Pitchess Detention Center in Castiac, CA. L.A. County’s largest correctional complex incorporates north, south and east facilities which respectively hold 1,500 maximum security, 1,700 medium-security and 850 low-security inmates. The latter provides job training in carpentry, dog grooming and firefighting.
  • North County Correctional Facility adjunct to the Pitchess Center houses 3,000 inmates in five jails. The emphasis is on vocational programs in printing, sign production and clothing manufacturing.
  • Twin Towers Correctional Facility I and II. This 1.2 million square foot, $397 million complex on 10 acres in downtown Los Angeles holds approximately 4,500 inmates and employs 2,400 officers and civilian staff. Tower I, a medical center jail ward, is capable of securing maximum-security offenders and mental health inmates. Tower II is a state-of-the-arts medical services building.

Federal Correctional Facilities in L.A. County

  • Metropolitan Detention Center. An administrative facility in downtown L.A.
  • Federal Correctional Institute-Terminal Island. A low-security facility for male inmates located at the entrance to L.A. harbor
  •  Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex (FCC). Located 178 miles northwest of L.A., it includes a men’s low-security institution, a penitentiary for medium-security offenders and an adjacent satellite minimum-security prison camp.
  • Victorville FCC.  Located 85 miles northeast of L.A., it includes a penitentiary for high-security males and two prisons for medium-security males, one of which has an adjacent satellite prison camp for minimum-security female offenders.

Corrections Officer Salaries in Los Angeles County

  • Federal: Average annual salary – $53,459. Varies with geographic location.
  • State: Median annual salary – $43,214

Sacramento, California Corrections Officer Job Description

As California’s sixth largest city in population, the Sacramento area often offers career opportunities for correctional officers at nearby state correctional facilities:

  • California State Prison in Sacramento houses medium-security inmates serving long sentences as well as difficult inmates transferred from other correctional facilities. It also is a medical hub for northern California that includes a psychiatric unit and enhanced outpatient care.
  • Folsom. California’s second oldest prison was also the world’s first to have electric power. Made famous by singer Johnny Cash, the prison currently houses mostly medium security males. Folsom’s Greystone Adult School provides both academic and career technical courses. Folsom is less than 25 miles from Sacramento.
  • Sierra Conservation Center. Located near the census-designated town of Jamestown, approximately 100 miles from Sacramento, the 420-acre California Department of Corrections facility is the administrative headquarters for training minimum-security inmates in firefighting techniques. These inmates are then housed at any of 19 conservation camps located in wilderness areas across central and southern California. Inmates in these “prisons without walls” are dispatched to combat wildfires when needed. They also are called upon to assist in other emergencies and help with community work projects.
  • California Health Care Facility. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is now hiring correctional officers to work at this 1.2 million square foot hospital outside Stockton that is due to open in July 2013. Located about 47 miles from Sacramento, it has beds for 1,722 inmates and state-of-the-arts diagnostic and treatment centers. The hospital is surrounded by a 13-foot-high lethal electrified fence and 11 45-foot guard towers.

Requirements for Becoming a Correctional Officer in Sacramento County

  • U.S. citizen
  • At least 21 years old
  • High school graduate
  • Excellent physical condition
  • No felony convictions
  • Eligible to carry a firearm
  • Emotionally stable/mature
  • Ability to control/direct others
  • Able to pass background check and drug test
  • Willing to work all hours, weekends, holidays

Online applications for correctional officer jobs in Sacramento County are available at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website. All new cadets attend a demanding 16-week Basic Correctional Officer training at the department academy followed by a two-year apprenticeship. Cadets earn $3,050 a month while at the academy and $3,714/month during apprenticeship and upon officially becoming a correctional officer in Sacramento County.

Duties/Responsibilities of a Correctional Officer in Sacramento

California correctional officers are sworn peace officers whose job description includes:

  • Supervising inmates in housing units, dining/recreation/shower rooms, work areas, yards, kitchens, etc.
  • Subduing and restraining inmates
  • Responding to emergencies
  • Patrolling grounds
  • Escorting visitors
  • Conducting body searches
  • Examining mail

San Diego, California Corrections Officer Job Description

The Metropolitan Correctional Center is San Diego’s only federal prison. It is located in the downtown area adjacent to the federal courthouse. The 23-story administrative detention facility has a capacity of 612 male and female offenders of all security levels, most of whom either have pending court cases or are serving short sentences.

According to current BOP job listings, annual salaries for correctional officers range from $43,000 to $64,000 depending on experience and location. Supervisory positions range from $57,000 to $106,000.

In San Diego, correctional officer jobs with the California Department of Corrections (DOC) pay an annual salary of $34,089 to $52,346 with excellent benefits.

Requirements for Becoming a Federal Correctional Officer in San Diego

Qualifications for correctional officer jobs in San Diego with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP):

  • U.S. citizen
  • Under the age of 37
  • Excellent physical condition
  • No criminal record
  • Bachelor’s degree or better from an accredited college/university OR
  • Three years full-time experience in a job that requires assisting, guiding, teaching, counseling or directing others.

Requirements for Becoming a California Correctional Officer in San Diego

  • U.S. citizen
  • At least 21 years of age
  • High school graduate or GED certificate
  • Excellent physical condition
  • No felony convictions
  • Eligible to possess a firearm

Application details are available online at the appropriate agency’s website for those candidates interested in learning how to become correctional officers in San Diego after meeting the stated requirements.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Facilities in San Diego

State prisons in or near San Diego include:

Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in downtown San Diego houses illegal immigrants waiting to be released to the Department of Homeland Security for deportation to their countries of origin. The institution has self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Criminal Gang Anonymous, as well as various educational, vocational, social and religious programs.

California Institution for Women is located in the city of Corona, 97 miles southeast of San Diego. It houses female offenders of all security levels with particular attention given to women with special needs, including addicts and/or those who have HIV, are pregnant, or need psychiatric care. Inmates can participate in self-help groups and community betterment programs.

The California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, CA, located 100 miles from San Diego, focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment. The facility prepares medium-security felons and civil addicts for their return to society and, hopefully, a productive lifestyle.

The California Institution for Men is a 2,500-acre facility located 110 miles from San Diego near the city of Chino. It incorporates four separate facilities under the jurisdiction of one warden. Three facilities each hold under 1,000 medium- to maximum-security inmates while the fourth houses approximately 2,500 offenders and is the largest Level One (open dormitory housing for low-security inmates) prison in California.

California State Prison-Centinela, situated 113 miles west of San Diego near the desert town of Imperial, houses males with long sentences. The focus is on reducing recidivism through inmate productivity and self-help programming.

San Francisco, California Corrections Officer Job Description

Correctional officers in the San Francisco Bay area are employed at both federal and state facilities:

Federal Bureau of Prisons Correctional Institutions Classifications

  • Minimum Security (also called Federal Prison Camps). These facilities are work/labor oriented. Satellite Prison Camps (SPCs) are adjacent to larger institutions for which they provide inmate labor.
  • Low Security. Noted for dormitory or cubicle housing, double-fenced perimeters, a higher staff-to-inmate ratio and work programs.
  • Medium Security. Usually have double, electrified fences, cell housing, higher staff-to-inmate ratios, more internal controls and work/treatment schemes.
  • High Security (Penitentiaries). Cell housing, highly secured perimeter walls, highest staff-to-inmate ratios and tight control of inmate movements.

Federal correctional facilities in/near San Francisco include:

  • FCI Dublin. This low security prison for women located 20 miles southeast of Oakland is adjacent to both a satellite prison camp for adult women and a detention facility for men on holdover or awaiting trial.
  • Atwater Penitentiary. High security facility for adult males is located 130 miles from San Francisco. Has an adjacent male satellite camp.

California Department of Corrections Prisons in/near San Francisco

  • San Quentin. Opened in 1852 in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, it is California’s oldest and most famous prison. It holds a minimum security general population and work crew units, as well as California’s only “death row” and gas chamber.
  • Solano. This medium security state prison is in Vacaville, CA, just 45 miles from San Francisco. The focus is on self-help groups and a comprehensive work-training program designed to provide inmates with the skills needed to successfully re-enter society.
  • Mule Creek. The 866-acre facility is located in Ione, CA, 120 miles from San Francisco. Mule Creek prison currently has 3,065 inmates housed in a facility designed to hold 1,700. Emphasizes work programs.

How to Begin a Career as a Correctional Officer in San Francisco

The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) have separate requirements for becoming a correctional officer as well as different hiring processes. It is noted that the BOP is currently offering recruitment incentives for persons hired to fill correctional officer jobs in San Francisco at either the Atwater or Dublin facility.

Requirements for becoming a corrections officer with the federal Bureau of Prisons

  • U.S. citizen
  • Under the age of 37
  • Physically able to walk/stand for one hour, run, climb stairs, lift/drag heavy objects (like a body)
  • Able to pass medical exam, including vision and hearing
  • Willing to work all hours, weekends and holidays
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college/university OR three years full-time work experience guiding, directing, managing, counseling, teaching or supervising others.
  • Ability to communicate verbally
  • Capacity to react calmly and effectively in a crisis situation

Requirements for becoming a correctional officer with the state of California

  • U.S. citizen
  • At least 21 years old
  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Good physical condition
  • No felony convictions
  • Eligible to possess a firearm

Go to the BOP or the CDCR website and click on “Career Opportunities” for application details.

San Quentin, California Corrections Officer Job Description

  • A maximum inmate population of 3,088
  • 1,832 employees, which include: 1,056 wardens, chief deputy wardens, associate wardens, captains, lieutenants, sergeants, officers, and counselors
  • An annual operating budget of $164 million
  • 701 condemned male inmates (death row)
  • Joining the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in San Quentin
    Those interested in becoming a correctional officer in San Quentin must apply for a job with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). California State correctional officers, who serve as peace officers, must:

    • Be a United States citizen
    • Be at least 21 years old
    • Possess a high school diploma or GED

    In preparation for stiff competition in California’s competitive job market, would-be correctional officers often choose to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in relevant areas of study such as psychology, criminal justice, police science or law enforcement.

    The selection process for becoming a California State correctional officers in San Quentin includes a number of components, completed in the following order:

    • Completing a notarized personal history statement
    • Being fingerprinted
    • Completing a pre-investigatory interview
    • Passing the written examination and qualifications assessment
    • Passing a background investigation
    • Passing a written peace officer psychological evaluation
    • Passing a vision test
    • Passing an oral peace officer psychological evaluation
    • Passing a pre-employment medical examination
    • Passing the physical fitness test, which includes being able to:
      • Run a 500-yard course
      • Complete a mini obstacle course
      • Run a flight of stairs
      • Carry two 45-pound weights a distance of 50 yards
      • Carry one 45-pound weight a distance of 75 yards
      • Carry a 30-pound weight a distance of 110 yards

    Candidates who successfully complete the above employment components are then placed on the certification, which allows them to be appointed as a California correctional peace officer.

    About California’s San Quentin State Prison

    San Quentin State Prison, which was constructed in July 1852 on Point San Quentin, originally housed both male and female inmates until 1933, when a new women’s prison in Tehachapi was built.

    San Quentin State Prison is situated on 432 acres, just 12 miles from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. San Quentin consists of four, separate cell blocks, one maximum security cell block, the Central Health Care Service building, a medium-security dorm, and a minimum security firehouse. It is also home to California’s only gas chamber and death row.

    Federal Correctional Officer Jobs in California

    Although correctional officers at San Quentin work for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, there are many federal correctional officer jobs through the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in California, thanks to the federal correctional institutions found here:

    • Victorville FCC
    • Terminal Island FCI
    • Taft CI
    • San Diego MCC
    • Mendota FCI
    • Los Angeles MDC
    • Lompoc FCC
    • Herlong FCI
    • Dublin FCI
    • Atwater USP

    BOP correctional officers are typically hired at the GS-5 level. Individuals without previous work experience must possess a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

    Although a particular major isn’t specified at the GS-5 level, candidates for federal correctional officer jobs nevertheless often choose related majors in:

    • Criminal justice
    • Sociology
    • Law
    • Criminology
    • Police science

    Individuals who want to work in California as a federal correctional officer must also meet the minimum general requirements of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), which include: being a United States citizen, being at least 21 years old and no older than 36 years old at the time of appointment, and possessing a high school diploma or GED.

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