The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates numerous federal correctional facilities in Illinois. In addition to the Metropolitan Correctional Center and Community Corrections Management Field Office in Chicago, the BOP also manages two medium security Federal Correctional Institutions in Pekin and Greenville. The U.S. Penitentiary found in Marion also houses medium security inmates. The Federal Bureau of Prisons supervised a total of 5,097 inmates in Illinois during the latest population count in 2013.
The Illinois Department of Corrections, headquartered in Springfield, oversees a total of 51 correctional facilities, including 29 correctional centers, nine work camps, seven adult transition centers, four reception/classification centers and two impact incarceration programs (IIPs). The IIPs, highly structured intervention programs implemented in 2000, focus on developing inmate responsibility and self-esteem as well as addressing issues underlying criminal behavior and substance abuse. As of 2003, the program’s recidivism rate was 23.3 percent, compared to 32.9 percent for traditional correctional centers. IIPs are seen as a hopeful way to relieve prison overcrowding. Illinois currently has over 49,000 inmates living in facilities designed to hold 33,700.
Minimum Requirements to Become a Correctional Officer in Illinois
Federal Correctional Officer
In order to join the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a correctional officer in Illinois, applicants should meet these basic requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be at least 21 years old and no older than 36
- Have a criminal history without any felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
- Have a financial history without significant delinquencies
Applicants who wish to join the BOP at the GS-5 pay grade should have these educational or experience qualifications:
- Possess a bachelor’s degree; or
- Have three years of full time experience in
- Emergency response
The GS-6 pay grade is available to applicants who possess one or more of these qualifications:
- Have at least nine semester hours of graduate classes in
- Social science
- Criminal justice; or
- One year of full time experience in
- Law enforcement
- Mental health facility work
Illinois Department of Corrections
- Illinois resident
- At least 18 years old
- High school diploma or GED certificate
- Valid Illinois driver’s license
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Speak, read and write English
Individuals who meet these requirements must submit an online Applicant Data Form found at the Illinois Department of Corrections/Career Opportunities website. Applicants will receive a response indicating the place and time to begin the job screening process.
Screening Process for the Job of Illinois Correctional Officer
Candidates for correctional officer jobs in Illinois must complete each of the following components in the order given. Point values are assigned to each component and job offers are given to those with the highest total scores.
- Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). Tests reading comprehension and vocabulary. Applicants scoring below 10th grade reading level are eliminated from the screening process.
- Inmate Disciplinary Report IDR). Candidates are shown a videotape of an incident and must answer 30 multiple-choice questions about it. This written test measures a person’s ability to observe and interpret situations.
- Physical Agility Test. Involves four exercises designed to measure one’s ability to perform duties required of correctional officers. Persons failing this test cannot continue the screening process.
- Two-Stage Interview. Completion of a multiple-choice questionnaire is followed by an oral interview with two correctional officials.
- Educational Achievement. Two points are given for every 15 semester hours of college completed up to a maximum of 16 points. One additional point is given for an associate’s degree, two for a bachelor’s and four for a master’s.
- Work Experience. Between one and five points are awarded for job experience in law enforcement, corrections or security. Some points may be given for work in other fields depending upon things like supervisory experience.
- Military Service. Veterans earn between 1 and 10 points depending on length of service, promotions and supervisory experience.
Correctional Officer Training in Illinois
Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy
Pre-employment training for new federal correctional officers at the facility the officer is assigned to and at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA. This instruction includes firearms training, defensive tactics, policies and procedures. Following the first year, federal correctional officers must obtain between 16 and 40 hours of additional training each year.
Illinois Department of Corrections Training
New recruits are required to attend the Department of Corrections Training Academy in Springfield where they are housed in dormitories. The relevant, realistic and current training teaches new recruits in Illinois how to become a correctional officer in the real world by covering such topics as:
- Control Tactics
- Crisis Intervention
- Hostage Negotiations
- Prevention of Prison Rape
- Use of Restraints
- Administration of Discipline
- Report writing
Illinois Correctional Officer Salaries and Benefits
Annual starting salaries range between $27,113 and $33,110 and go up to $41,631 to $50,839, depending on location. Benefits include paid holidays/vacations; health/life insurance, an excellent retirement plan and free uniforms.