The Federal Bureau of Prisons has made Colorado an important location in its network of correctional facilities. In addition to a community corrections management office as well as the National Corrections Academy in Denver, the BOP also operates the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, which houses 1,001 male inmates in a medium security facility and 169 males in a minimum security prison camp. Of greatest importance, however, is the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence which consists of a medium security FCI which houses 1,060 inmates, a U.S. Penitentiary which holds 886 male offenders in high security and the Administrative Maximum facility that holds 439 inmates currently. The AdMax facility in Florence is the only federal supermax correctional institution and uses the tightest controls on inmates This facility currently holds some of the most notorious criminals and terrorists in the country including Eric Rudolph, Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid.
Although the crime rate in Colorado dropped 6% between 2008 and 2009, there were 169 murders reported in 2009 along with 2,097 forcible rapes. In total, 186,030 adults were arrested in Colorado in 2009. As of April 2013, the prison population in the state was 20,087. The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) employs some 8,000 correctional officers to oversee these inmates as of last count in 2012.
Qualifications to Apply for Correctional Officer Jobs in Colorado
Federal Correctional Officer Jobs
The Federal Bureau of Prisons will hire correctional officers at the GS-5 or GS-6 pay grades. All correctional officers must meet these minimum requirements.
- U.S. citizen (Some facilities may hire non-citizens if the need is intense)
- Between the ages of 20 and 37
- No serious criminal history
- Clean credit history
- Ability to complete these tasks
- Dummy drag—drag a 75 pound dummy across 684 feet in under three minutes
- Obstacle course
- Climb and grasp—climb a ladder and retrieve object within seven seconds
- Stair climb—carry a 20 pound weight up 108 steps in under 45 seconds
- Run and cuff—run a quarter mile and apply handcuffs to a target within two minutes and 35 seconds
Applicants seeking a GS-5 position should possess these qualifications:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree; or
- Have at least three years of experience in
- Emergency response
GS-6 entry level jobs require candidates to meet at least one of these requirements:
- Completion of nine semester hours or 14 quarter hours of graduate classes in
- Social science
- At least one year of paid, unpaid or volunteer work in
- Law enforcement
- Clinical mentally ill patient care
GS-5 jobs provide salaries ranging from $31,315 up to $40,706, while GS-6 positions offer salaries from $34,907 to $45,376.
State Correctional Officer Jobs
There are a number of requirements to be able to apply for correctional officer jobs in Colorado. They include:
- Being at least 21 years old
- Having a high school diploma or a GED certificate
- May be waived for those with 2 years experience managing inmates
- Being a resident of Colorado
- Having an unrestricted, valid driver’s license
- Not having a domestic violence or felony conviction
How to Apply to be a Correctional Officer in Colorado
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Prospective federal correctional officers must visit www.USAJobs.gov and follow the link from a job posting. After completing the pre-employment questionnaire, applicants may file their application electronically along with supporting documentation.
If approved, candidates must interview with BOP hiring personnel and submit to a background investigation. A urinalysis drug test and medical evaluation will also be performed.
Colorado Department of Corrections
Those seeking to become correctional officers in Colorado must apply online. Part of the application involves choosing the desired geographic location for work. It is extremely important to give an e-mail address on the application and to regularly check e-mail after applying.
Applicants who appear to be promising candidates will be contacted and notified of the date of the Phase I examination. This test takes approximately three hours and includes:
- Reading comprehension
- Performance test based on video situations
The tests will be scored immediately. Those who pass move on to Phase II testing. This involves an oral exam in front of three people that will take about half an hour. The applicant’s performance on the oral exam will then be scored.
The department will soon be including a physical agility test as part of the screening process. It will involve:
- Push-ups: 25 within 2 minutes
- Sit-ups: 30 within 2 minutes
- Wall ball exercise: Crouching, then going from the floor to an overhead surface at 3 minutes while carrying a weighted ball
- High stepping
- Repetitive lifting and carrying: 75 pounds for men; 50 pounds for women
- Grip strength: 50 inch minimum pounds of pressure
- Hopping on one foot for 30 feet performed twice
- Braiding/grape vine running: running 30 feet sideways with a weighted ball twice
- Blood pressure and oximeter screen
Those who passed all of these phases will be notified by e-mail. The next step in being hired is to undergo a background investigation. After passing the background check and drug screening, candidates will be notified when there is a vacancy in their geographic area.
Training to Become a Correctional Officer in Colorado
Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy
New federal correctional officers must complete Introduction to Correctional Techniques Phases I and II. The first phase is an orientation conducted at the assigned correctional facility. Phase II is a three week program held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA, which includes firearms training, self-defense, and policies and procedures regarding federal corrections. After the first year, officers must obtain between 16 and 40 hours of training annually.
CDOC Training Academy
Before they can start work, new employees learn how to become correctional officers through a month of basic training at the CDOC Training Academy in Canon City. The American Correctional Association recognized the excellence of this program in May 2013 by awarding it accreditation.
Training goes from 8 AM to 5 PM, and tobacco, weapons, alcohol, cell phones, and pagers are not allowed on the grounds. A professional appearance is required, and men cannot have goatees or beards. Lodging will be provided for those who live and are assigned a work location that is outside of a fifty mile radius of the Academy.
The coursework at the Training Academy involves both academics and practical measures. Topics include:
- Federal laws
- State laws
- American Correctional Association standards
- Firearms training
Established correctional officers in Colorado undergo refresher training each year.