There are four major federal correctional facilities in Kentucky that are operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. There are two high security U.S. Penitentiaries at Big Sandy and McCreary, both with attached minimum security prison camps. In Manchester the BOP operates a medium security Federal Correctional Institution for males. There is also a medical prison facility in Lexington which also has an adjacent minimum security prison camp for female inmates. In 2013, the latest population count showed that the BOP supervised 6,821 inmates in Kentucky facilities.
There are 14 correctional institutions or camps throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky in which corrections officer jobs may be found. The Kentucky State Reformatory houses the most inmates in the state, at 1917, followed by the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, with 1706 inmates.
The Kentucky Department of Corrections publishes a Daily Population Report. As of May 2013, this report indicates that 11,603 prisoners are male and 1318 female, for a total daily population of 12,921.
What it Takes to Become a Correctional Officer in Kentucky
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Correctional officers may join the BOP at the GS-5 or GS-6 pay levels. The qualifications for GS-5 entry are:
- Be at least 21 years of age and younger than 37
- Be a U.S. citizen (may be waived for facilities with high demand)
- Have no serious criminal infractions
- Have a good financial history
- Have a bachelor’s degree; or
- Have at least three years of full time experience in
- Emergency response
- Commissioned sales
The education and experience requirements are slightly elevated for GS-6 eligibility:
- At least nine semester hours of graduate classes in
- Social science
- Criminology; or
- One year of full time experience in
- Law enforcement
- Mental health treatment
Kentucky Department of Corrections
Education and Experience
Anyone who applies to become a correctional officer in Kentucky must be a high school graduate, or equivalent. No experience is required for potential corrections officers in Kentucky.
All who wish to become correctional officers in the commonwealth of Kentucky must be at least 21 years old. Additionally, correctional officers in Kentucky must possess the physical agility to perform the duties of the job – that is, they must be able to run, bend, lift, and secure an inmate.
The Process of Becoming a Correctional Officer in Kentucky
Submit an Application
Interested candidates for corrections officer jobs in Kentucky may search and apply at the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet website. Those whose qualifications meet the standards will be placed on a register of eligible candidates and may be contacted as positions become available in the counties in which the applicant specified a desire to work as a correctional officer.
Interview and Testing
Selected candidates from the Kentucky correctional officer register may be contacted to interview with the Kentucky Department of Corrections. Those who pass the interview are subject to a full background check, psychological evaluation, physical examination, and drug test prior to hire.
Federal Correctional Officer Training
New federal correctional officers receive 80 hours of orientation at their assigned facility which includes introduction to facility operations and prison population. The remaining 120 hours of training are conducted at the Staff Training Academy in Glynco, GA. Officers will receive training in firearms, bus operations, witness security and self-defense. In following years, officers must receive at least 16 hours of training annually.
State and County Correctional Officer Training
All new corrections officers in Kentucky must complete 160 hours of training in two phases. Phase I of training (orientation and computer-based training) is conducted at the job location, and Phase 2 at one of the following Kentucky Department of Corrections training centers:
- Central Region Training Center – LaGrange- provides training for new employees at:
- Roederer Correctional Complex
- Northpoint Training Center
- Luther Luckett Correctional Complex
- Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women
- Kentucky State Reformatory
- Blackburn Correctional Complex
- Eastern Region Training Center – Sandy Hook- provides training for new employees at:
- Little Sandy Correctional Complex
- Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex
- Bell County Forestry Camp
- Western Region Training Center – Eddyville- provides training for new employees at:
- Western Kentucky Correctional Complex
- Kentucky State Penitentiary
- Green River Correctional Complex
Phase II takes three weeks to complete and includes classes in Introduction to Corrections, Managing Problems in a Correctional Setting, Intro to Security and Firearms Qualification.
At least 40 continuing education training hours must be completed annually in order to keep corrections officer jobs in Kentucky. They must also re-qualify to keep using firearms on the job.
Kentucky Correctional Officer Jobs: Death Row
Currently, the commonwealth of Kentucky’s Department of Corrections has 33 inmates on Death Row. Just one Kentucky Death Row inmate is female. All of the men are housed at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, while the woman is at the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women in Pewee Valley. Kentucky could soon overturn its death penalty, however, as the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, state representatives and state prosecutors have recommended its abolition. If overturned, those currently with a death sentence would likely receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole.