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Massachusetts Corrections Officer Job Description

The Massachusetts Department of Corrections states that as of January 2013, some 11,000 inmates were housed in the commonwealth’s correctional institutions. This does not include the Federal Medical Center located in Devens, which also houses prisoners. In Massachusetts, correctional officer jobs may be found in any of the state’s correctional institutions as well as in the Federal Medical Center in Devens.

Becoming a Correctional Officer in Massachusetts

Educational Prerequisite

  • Federal
    • At the entry (GS 5) level, candidates need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Alternatively, they may substitute experience as listed below.  
    • At the next (GS6) level, candidates must have taken at least nine graduate college semester hours in criminal justice, criminology, criminal justice, law, social science, or a related discipline. Alternatively, they may substitute experience as listed below.
  • State
    • Experience is preferred, but the following educational accomplishments will substitute for experience:
      • A bachelor’s degree in sociology, social work, psychology, law enforcement, criminology, criminal justice or counseling may be substituted. Two years of this education equals one year of experience at this level.
      • A bachelor’s degree in another field may be substituted for one year of experience, with two years of education equaling six months of experience.
      • A graduate degree in sociology, social work, psychology, law enforcement, criminology, criminal justice or counseling equals one year of experience and may be substituted for this.
      • Education towards a degree will be prorated if substituted for experience.
 

Experience Prerequisite

  • Federal
    • At the entry (GS 5) level, three years of full-time work experience in any of these areas may be substituted to meet the education prerequisite:
      • Assisting, directing and guiding others
      • Sales
      • Managing/supervising others
      • Teaching or instructing others
      •  Responding to emergencies
      • Counseling others
    • At the next (GS6) level , one year of full-time, specialized work experience in any of these areas may be substituted to meet the education prerequisite:
      • Job in which duties include making inmates in a mental health/correctional facility follow rules/regulations
      • Job in which duties include apprehending and arresting lawbreakers
      • Job in which duties include responding to domestic disturbances
  • State
    • Two years of full-time professional experience in the following areas is necessary(unless a candidate substitutes education for a portion of this time as listed above):
      • Criminal justice
      • Counseling
      • Social work
      • Treatment, rehabilitation and/or counseling of offenders (juvenile or adult)

Other Prerequisites

  • Federal
    • Candidates must be no older than 36 ½ at the time of application
    • Candidates must be U.S. citizens
  • State
    • Candidates must have a current, valid Massachusetts Class D vehicle operator’s license (or equivalent license from another state)
    • Candidates with Spanish and/or bilingual abilities are encouraged to apply

The Application Process

  • Federal
    • Search for job openings at USAjobs.gov. Apply for openings online.
    • Pass a background investigation and board interview.
    • Pass a drug test and physical exam before beginning employment.
  • State
    • Search for job openings at the Massachusetts Department of Correction website.
    • View and print the online application and complete it. Mail it to Division of Human Resources, Personnel Department, P.O. Box 946, Norfolk, MA 02056.
    • Take and pass the Correctional Officer Civil Examination . Those who pass will have their names placed on a Certification List, from which the Department of Correction will contact qualified individuals as openings arise.
    • Undergo a criminal history background investigation. Present all paperwork requested.
    • Enter the Pre-Screening process, consisting of psychological, drug and physical fitness testing. This will be conducted at the Shirley Training Academy. Failing any part of this process disqualifies an applicant from becoming a correctional officer in Massachusetts.

Training for Correctional Officers in Massachusetts

Federal

Federal Correctional Officers who are hired in Massachusetts must complete training. It will entail orientation, classes on policies and procedures, and instruction on supervising inmates. The  Introduction to Correction Techniques I class is held  at the federal medical institution in Massachusetts, FMC  Devens.

New hires must also go to the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Glynco, GA for training in firearms, self-defense, policies and procedures, and to pass a physical abilities test.

State

Correctional officers who are hired in Massachusetts must complete 10 weeks of the Department of Corrections Basic Training academy. Classes will include physical conditioning, and rules, procedures and regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.

Massachusetts Corrections Officer Job Sites

Correctional officer jobs may be found throughout the commonwealth of Massachusetts, in both the Federal and State capacity.

Federal

  • Federal Medical Center (FMC), Devens

State

  • Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, Shirley –Maximum Security
  • South Middlesex Correctional Center, Framingham – Minimum Security/Pre-Release
  • Pondville Correctional Center, Norfolk – Minimum Security/Pre-Release
  • Old Colony Correctional Center, Bridgewater- Medium/Minimum Security
  • Northeastern Correctional Center, West Concord – Minimum Security/Pre-Release
  • North Central Correctional Institution, Gardner – Medium/Minimum Security
  • MCI Shirley, Shirley – Medium/Minimum Security
  • MCI Plymouth, South Carver – Minimum Security/Pre-Release
  • MCI Norfolk, Norfolk – Medium Security
  • MCI Framingham, Framingham – Medium/Maximum Security
  • MCI Concord, Concord – Medium Security
  • MCI Cedar Junction, South Walpole – Maximum Security
  • Massachusetts Treatment Center, Bridgewater – Medium Security
  • Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center, Bridgewater –Minimum Security
  • Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Correctional Unit, Jamaica Plain – Medium Security
  • Bridgewater State Hospital, Bridgewater – Medium Security
  • Boston Pre-Release Center, Roslindale – Minimum Security/Pre-Release
  • Bay State Correctional Center, Norfolk – Medium Security

Corrections Officer Salary in Massachusetts

In 2012, the average correctional officer salary in Massachusetts, as reported in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, a publication of the Department of Labor, was $60,700. The median salary was higher by 5.3% at $64,120.

The Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy areas were the most lucrative for corrections officers where they earned an average of $61,130. Correctional officers in the top ten percent in this area averaged $73,090, which was nearly 17% above the state’s overall average. Another high paying location in Massachusetts for corrections officers was Springfield. In this area, there was an average salary of $50,390 with the top ten percent averaging $55,070.

The salary figures shown here are inclusive of correctional officers throughout Massachusetts as reported by the Department of Labor:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Barnstable Town MA
90
38320
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
5720
61130
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
4560
60730
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA
1140
58540
Springfield MA-CT
Estimate Not Released
50390

Boston, Massachusetts Corrections Officer Job Description

The violent crime rate in Boston in 2010 was higher than that of the rest of Massachusetts by over 93%.  There were over 5,800 violent crimes reported in the city during that year.  To deal with the number of offenders in Massachusetts, over 6100 correctional officers were employed in the state in 2012.

A federal prison is located about 39 miles west of Boston.  Federal Medical Center (FMC) Devens specializes in long term medical and psychiatric care for male federal inmates.  They also provide forensic evaluation of defendants who have been referred by the courts.  There are more than 400 jobs supported by this facility, most of which are correctional officer jobs.

The Boston area is also home to a number of other correctional facilities, including:

  • Boston Pre-Release Center
  • Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Correctional Unit
  • House of Correction—South Bay
  • Norfolk County Jail
  • Nashua Street Jail
  • Massachusetts Correctional Institution–Cedar Junction
  • Bay State Correctional Center

Steps to Become a Correctional Officer in Boston

Education – Federal correctional officer careers in Boston require a bachelor’s degree.  To achieve a GL-6 level, correctional officers must possess an additional graduate coursework.  This requires nine hours of graduate study in the field of criminal justice or a related field.  Requirements include having full time work experience.  Applicants can possess three years of general experience or one year of specialized experience such as law enforcement, park ranger, or mental health facility worker.

To become a correction officer with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MDOC), applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate issued by the Massachusetts Department of Education.  Exceptions can be made for applicants who have served three or more years in the U.S. Armed Forces and have been honorably discharged.

Training – The MDOC requires ten weeks of training for recruits to learn how to become correctional officers.  This training takes place at the Shirley Correctional Complex-Training Academy that is located in Shirley, MA.  They are trained in the following areas:

  • Polices and procedures
  • Using firearms
  • Self-defense
  • Techniques of using handcuffs and restraining individuals
  • Physical training

Federal correctional officers train for three weeks at the Staff Training Academy in Glynco, GA.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires that its correction officers receive annual training:  from 16 to 40 hours a year.

The Inmates of FMC Devens

FMC Devens has capacity for over 1,000 inmates.  The specialized medical care for inmates with chronic medical conditions includes treatment for HIV, kidney failure, cancer, and paralysis.  This facility was the first one of those administered by the Bureau of Prisons to provide services for donor transplants.

As a dedicated psychiatric facility, correctional officers at FMC Devens tend to both acutely ill and chronic psychiatric patients.  There are two unlocked and two locked units for their treatment.  The Mental Health Unit also includes inmates who have been deemed mentally ill and dangerous by civil courts.  About 40% of the inmates are sex offenders who receive specialized treatment.

Bridgewater, Massachusetts Corrections Officer Job Description

Operating out of Bridgewater, the Massachusetts Department of Correction has one state prison and one hospital for those declared criminally insane in this town that is considered a suburb of not only Boston, but also Providence, Rhode Island. Old Colony Correctional Center, a medium-security facility for male inmates, and Bridgewater State Hospital are in the same prison complex.

Correctional officers are responsible for patrolling the prison, ensuring that visitors do not bring forbidden items onto the property, and may have other duties including counseling inmates or supervising work crews in the community.

Generally, some type of experience or education in counseling or criminal justice is required to successfully gain employment as a Massachusetts corrections officer.

Becoming a Correctional Officer in Bridgewater Massachusetts

Education and Experience Requirements – A Civil Service Examination and rigorous pre-screening process is required of all people who wish to become a Bridgewater corrections officer. The pre-screening includes extensive reference and criminal background checks, testing for illegal drug use, psychological tests, and physical fitness tests.

At least two years of full-time work experience in law enforcement, social work, counseling, the U.S. military, or a related field is required unless the applicant has sufficient college education credits. Part-time work also may qualify a candidate.

Candidates with a college education may qualify based on their degree alone, but it depends upon the level and subject of study.

  • An Associate’s degree can substitute for one year of professional work experience
  • A Bachelor’s degree can replace two years of professional work experience.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in an related field can replace one year of required work experience.
  • A Master’s degree can substitute for two years of professional work experience.
  • A Master’s degree in another field can be used in lieu of one year of professional work experience.

Appropriate fields of study for these degrees include law enforcement, criminology, criminal justice, social work, counseling, psychology, or sociology

Training Requirements – A valid driver’s license from Massachusetts or another state is required. Corrections officer applicants must possess a valid permit to carry firearms in Massachusetts or acquire one before starting the job.

Successful completion of the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s 10-week Basic Training Academy is required. A one-year probationary work period is also required.

Norfolk, Massachusetts Corrections Officer Job Description

Operating out of Norfolk, the Massachusetts Department of Correction has three state prisons in this suburban Boston town:

MCI-Norfolk, the largest state prison in Massachusetts, was founded in 1927. It houses about 1,500 male inmates in a medium-security environment and has a maximum-security unit for about 100 men. MCI-Norfolk inmates can participate in an alternatives to violence program, a chess club, a poetry group, and a number of 12-step programs including Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Gambler’s Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous.

Bay State Correctional Center, another medium-security state prison, was founded in 1977 and houses around 300 male inmates. Available programs include anger management classes, self-help groups, a Braille production shop that designs materials to help blind people, a gardening project, and a weekly Scrabble group.

Pondville Correctional Center, a minimum-security state prison, holds approximately 200 men and employs 58 people. Self-help groups are available along with the National Education for Assistant Dog Services-Puppy Program. That program allows inmates to work as animal handlers preparing puppies to become service dogs for people with special needs.

In all locations in Norfolk, corrections officers are responsible for screening inmates and their visitors to ensure the safety of the prison and the outside community. They also respond to medical emergencies. Depending on experience levels, correctional officer jobs in Norfolk may include duties such as counseling prisoners and supervising community work crews.

Professional experience in a field related to rehabilitation is required of candidates interested in becoming correctional officers in Massachusetts.

Meeting Requirements for CO Jobs with the Massachusetts Department of Correction

Two years of full-time experience in counseling, social work, rehabilitation, or other areas of the criminal justice system is required. Part-time experiences may be counted if the aggregate time devoted to the job is equivalent to two years of full-time work.

Candidates with bilingual Spanish and English skills are strongly preferred.

In some cases, education can substitute for a portion or all of the professional work prerequisites.

  • An Associate’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, law enforcement, counseling, psychology, social work, or sociology can replace one year of required work experience.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, law enforcement, counseling, psychology, social work, or sociology can be used in lieu of two years professional work experience.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in another field can replace one year of required work experience.
  • A Master’s degree in any field can be used in lieu of one year of professional work experience.

Other Considerations for Correctional Officer Jobs in Norfolk

All corrections officer jobs in Norfolk have minimum entrance requirements, including successfully passing a pre-screening process that includes a Civil Service Examination, drug testing, psychological testing, physical fitness testing, and a criminal background check.

A prospective corrections officer must either have a valid permit to carry firearms in Massachusetts or be able to obtain one before starting work. An active driver’s license from Massachusetts or another state is also required.

The Massachusetts Department of Correction holds a 10-week Basic Training Academy. Successful completion of the academy and a one-year probationary period is required.

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