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New Hampshire Corrections Officer Job Description

As of 2010, the crime rate for New Hampshire was one of the lowest in the country.  Despite this relatively low rate, predictions based on the number of violent offenses in 2010 indicated that one forcible rape will be committed every 21 hours in New Hampshire and one aggravated assault every seven.

This has resulted in there being about 2,500 people incarcerated in the New Hampshire prison system in 2011. The level of incarceration provided jobs for 1,070 New Hampshire correctional officers in 2012.

The number of offenders incarcerated in the state has been increasing in recent years.  This is being driven less by new criminals, than by previous inmates who are reoffending and then being returned to prison.  One sixth of the approximately 14,000 criminal cases handled by New Hampshire’s Superior Court in a given year are due to charges relating to drugs.

Becoming a Correctional Officer in New Hampshire

There is no work experience required to become a correctional officer in New Hampshire, but experience such as having been a military police officer is desirable.  The requirements to apply for careers as correctional officers in New Hampshire include:

  • Being a U.S. citizen
  • Having graduated from high school or having a GED
  • Possessing a driver’s license that is valid in New Hampshire
  • Being at least 20 years old when appointed
  • Having good vision
    • At least 20/40 corrected binocular for near vision
    • At least 20/20 in the weaker eye and in both for distance vision
  • Having good hearing

Applicants must pass a physical agility test that is based on the standards of the Cooper Institute of Aerobic Research.  It includes:

  • 1.5 mile run
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Reach flexibility when sitting
  • One repetition bench press

To proceed with the selection process, applicants must meet the 35th percentile of the standards that are adjusted for gender and age.

In addition to the physical test, applicants must pass the following:

  • Credit check
  • Background check
  • Fingerprinting
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Medical examination

Training to Become a Correctional Officer in New Hampshire

Once they have been selected, trainees undergo nine weeks of training to learn how to become correctional officers in New Hampshire.  This must take place within six months of having been hired.

Training takes place at the New Hampshire Corrections Academy.  Trainees commute to the Academy for the duration of their training.  Those who attend are tested on both coursework and physical tasks such as using firearms and driving.  A grade of 70% is required to pass each course, and to be able to graduate, trainees must pass every subject.

Another physical test is required before graduation, and trainees must meet the 50th percentile of the requirements.  After graduating from the Academy, corrections officers are certified by the state of New Hampshire.  Corrections officers who are established in their careers will be given a physical fitness test and medical exam every three years.  They must pass these to maintain their certification.

Corrections Officer Salary in New Hampshire

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, the median New Hampshire correctional officer salary was $41,430 as of 2012. This was equal to a median hourly wage of $19.92.

In New Hampshire, corrections officers are paid as follows:

Corrections Officer:

  • Step 1: $30,555.20
  • Step 2: $31,699.20
  • Step 3: $32,947.20
  • Step 4: $34,236.80
  • Step 5: $35,609.60
  • Step 8 (Maximum): $40,372.80

Corrections Corporal:

  • Step 1: $33,051.20
  • Step 2: $34,382.40
  • Step 3: $35,776
  • Step 4: $37,190.40
  • Step 5: $38,708.80
  • Step 8 (Maximum): $43,825.60

Corrections Sergeant:

  • Step 1: $35,776
  • Step 2: $37,190.40
  • Step 3: $38,708.80
  • Step 4: $40,372.80
  • Step 5: $42,016
  • Step 8 (Maximum): $47,507.20

Corrections Captain:

  • Step 1: $43,825.60
  • Step 2: $45,697.60
  • Step 3: $47,736
  • Step 4: $49,836.80
  • Step 5: $52,020.80
  • Step 8 (Maximum): $59,196.80

The salary figures below have been reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and represent correctional officer earnings in New Hampshire as of 2012:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Northern New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
210
44000
Other New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
450
43910

Berlin, New Hampshire Corrections Officer Job Description

Berlin, New Hampshire is a major hub for corrections within the state. The New Hampshire Department of Corrections operates the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons operates the Federal Correctional Institution-Berlin.   All of these institutions provide the region with numerous job opportunities and economic activity – the FCI Berlin facility alone brings almost $40 million to the local economy.

Becoming a Correctional Officer in Berlin, New Hampshire

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Federal correctional officers may join the BOP at the GS-5 level if they only possess a bachelor’s degree.  The salary range for GS-5 is from $31,315 up to $40,706.  Candidates with at least nine semester hours of graduate study in social sciences, or criminal justice subjects may join at the GS-6 level, which offers salaries from $34,907 to $45,376.  Federal correctional officers may end their careers at the GS-7 pay grade, which offers a top salary of $38,790 to $50,431.

Candidates should meet the following requirements to become a correctional officer in Berlin:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between the ages of 20 and 37
  • Ability to pass a background and financial investigation

New officers must attend the basic training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

New Hampshire Department of Corrections

The New Hampshire Department of Corrections also offers correctional officer jobs in Berlin, New Hampshire.  The starting salary for these jobs is between $32,439 and $37,541.  Candidates must meet these requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Possess a valid state driver’s license
  • Be older than 19 years of age

Candidates must pass a physical agility test consisting of:

  • 1.5 mile run
  • Sit ups
  • Push ups
  • Sit and reach
  • Bench press

Training at the Corrections Academy is required.  New officers must qualify with a pistol and rifle to gain accreditation.

Working in the Berlin Area

FCI Berlin opened in 2011 and consists of a medium security facility along with a minimum security prison camp.  The medium security facility can hold up to 1,152 offenders, while the prison camp has a maximum capacity of 128.   The inmate count in 2013 was 213 inmates at the main FCI facility and 81 inmates at the camp facility.  The average sentence length for inmates at FCI Berlin is ten years.  The sequestration imposed by the U.S. Congress in early 2013 has impeded full implementation of FCI Berlin.  The number of employees at the facility is currently 239, and the sequestration has capped the staff to 251.

The Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility opened in 2000 and has a capacity of 700 male inmates in minimum or medium security.  This facility currently employs 147 correctional officers and 60 non-uniformed staff.  In addition to a Christian-based religious outreach program designated Living in Balance, this facility also supports a modified therapeutic system of mental health treatment, parenting skills programs, and a GED preparation and testing program.   Currently, almost 40 inmates are also involved in information technology, wood shop, upholstery and caning work opportunities.

Concord, New Hampshire Corrections Officer Job Description

The Concord, New Hampshire region is home to the State Prison for Men, as well as the State Prison for Women.  Both of these facilities are run by the New Hampshire Department of Corrections and house offenders with minimum, medium and maximum security requirements.  As of 2013, the population at the State Prison for Men numbered 1,437, while the population at the State Prison for Women totaled 150.

The starting salary for correctional officers in Concord is between $32,439 and $37,541 per year.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of correctional officer jobs in New Hampshire will grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is considerably higher than the national average of 5 percent.  This rapid growth in corrections is fueled, in part, by the increasing number of crimes occurring in the state. Despite one of the lowest crime rates in the country in 2008, the number of crimes and arrests has surged.  From 2005 to 2008, the number of arrests for violent crimes increased 31 percent, while property crime arrests increased six percent.

Requirements to Become a Correctional Officer in Concord, New Hampshire

Correctional officer jobs in Concord may be found through the New Hampshire Department of Corrections.  The minimum requirements to become a correctional officer in Concord are:

  • At least 20 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a valid New Hampshire driver’s license
  • No professional experience is required, but correctional or law enforcement experience is preferred

Prior to selection, candidates must successfully complete a physical fitness test which includes:

  • Push ups
  • Sit ups
  • 1.5 mile run
  • Sit and reach flexibility
  • Bench press

New officers must complete training at the New Hampshire Corrections Academy.  The basic training that all new officers receive include

  • Defensive tactics
  • Health and fitness issues
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Offender management

Major Prisons near Concord, New Hampshire

The State Prison for Women currently has a staff of 41, which includes 27 correctional officers.  This facility offers a wide variety of educational programs including GED assistance and vocational training in word processing, desktop publishing, bookkeeping, keyboarding, spreadsheets and accounting.  There is also a program to teach offenders skills in marketing and tourism promotion. Work crews also provided more than 300 hours of community service in 2012 for organizations like the Brookside Congregational Church, Goffstown Police Department, and the University of New Hampshire.

The State Prison for Men has a functional capacity of 1,205, despite present overcrowding.  A staff of 466 includes 330 uniformed correctional officers and 133 non-uniformed personnel.  The Secure Psychiatric Unit is also housed here.  The SPU is a 60 bed facility established in 1985 that holds mentally ill prison inmates, detainees, and civilian persons. The Life Skills programs at this facility include religious instruction and outreach, cognitive modification, peer exchange groups, parenting, stress control and substance abuse recovery groups.

Hillsborough County, New Hampshire Corrections Officer Job Description

Although New Hampshire’s crime rate is one of the lowest in the country, there were still some 23,863 crimes reported in Hillsborough County in 2011 alone.

Hillsborough County is home to the largest county jail in New Hampshire.  The Hillsborough County Department of Corrections (HCDOC) reported an average of 519 inmates a day during fiscal year 2013.

Correctional officer job candidates in Hillsborough County go through a rigorous selection process and a substantial amount of training to ensure they are well qualified to manage the inmates of the Hillsborough County Correctional Facility. The HCDOC prides itself on providing a training academy for its correctional officers that meets or exceeds the training requirements of the New Hampshire Association of Counties.

Applying to Become a Correctional Officer in Hillsborough County

Although the minimum educational qualification to become a corrections officer in Hillsborough County is to have a high school education, the HCDOC prefers applicants that have a college degree.  All applicants must be at least 20 years old and have a valid driver’s license.

Preferred qualifications include being bilingual, especially in Spanish, and having one of the following backgrounds:

  • Military
  • Emergency services
  • Law enforcement
  • Security

The HCDOC screens its applicants with a six-step process.  Phase 1 involves the initial screening of applicants.  This involves reviewing the application for qualifications, availability, and neatness.  Applicants who pass this step will receive a letter notifying them of a testing date.

Phase 2 involves taking a written aptitude test that measures writing skills, problem solving, and personality traits.  The next step in the application process is a computerized criminal background check.

Generally, the HCDOC will interview people who have passed these steps.  This phase takes approximately 40 minutes and evaluates such things as the following:

  • Communication skills
  • Demeanor
  • General knowledge
  • Maturity
  • Self-confidence

The next phase of the application process is a through background check that investigates the following items:

  • Character references
  • Credit checks
  • Criminal activity
  • Driving history
  • Educational verification
  • Employment history
  • Military services record
  • Prior residences

Once the applicants have passed their background check, they will take a physical fitness test.  To proceed in the hiring process, they must pass five of the following events:

  • 300 meter run
  • Vertical leap
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Flexibility
  • Bench press
  • 1.5 mile run

Applicants who have passed all six of these phases will then be considered for correctional officer jobs with Hillsborough County.

Correctional Officer Training in Hillsborough County

Correctional officer trainees attend the Hillsborough County Correctional Officer Training Academy for approximately 170 hours.  This involves taking approximately 59 hours of training courses.  Trainees must complete a number of quizzes, a mid-term, and pass a final exam with a score of 75%.

New correctional officers can skip this training if they are eligible to be certified by the New Hampshire Association of Counties Correctional Academy.

Once the new officers have graduated from the academy, they are assigned to a field-training officer.  They then undergo 2-4 months of field training.

The field-training officer will formally evaluate new correctional officers once weekly.  Once the field training has been concluded, an on the job training sheet will be filled out, and the field training officer will make a recommendation to release the new officer from this program.  At this point, the correctional officer will be certified.

The HCDOC requires yearly in-service training for correctional officers to maintain their certification.  Correctional officers must be recertified in CPR every year and in first aid every three years. Hillsborough County considers training and staff development of its correctional staff to be an ongoing area of focus for the HCDOC.  In fact, the county conducted 24,384 hours of training during fiscal year 2013 alone.

Strafford County, New Hampshire Corrections Officer Job Description

In 2011 the crime rate in Dover was more than 25% lower than that of Strafford County as a whole. Most of the crimes reported involved destruction or vandalism with simple assaults coming in a close second.

Criminals who have been sentenced to jail in Strafford County are typically housed at the Strafford County House of Corrections in Dover. In 2004, Strafford County completed construction of a new 89,000 square foot jail capable of holding 392 inmates.  If needed, this facility has the infrastructure to add an additional 144 beds.

Becoming a Correctional Officer in Strafford County

Correctional officers directly supervise all of the inmates at this facility.  Experience is not required to become a correctional officer in Strafford County, but applicants must meet a number of other requirements.

Requirements – The minimum requirements to become a corrections officer in Strafford County include being at least 18 years old and having a high school diploma or GED. Having an associate’s degree in corrections or criminal justice may increase the likelihood of applicants being considered.

Correctional officers must be in extremely good physical shape to carry out their duties, and applicants who have passed an initial interview must pass at least four of the following seven physical fitness standards:

  • Bench press
  • Sit & reach
  • Sit-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Vertical leap
  • 1.5 mile run
  • 300 meter sprint

Once applicants have passed their physical fitness testing, they take an aptitude exam.  After this, they tour the facility and shadow a correctional officer.  The county then conducts a background check on each applicant.  The next step is a final interview.  Applicants then undergo drug screening and a medical evaluation before they are offered conditional employment.

Training – Newly hired correctional officers are on probation for the first six months of their employment.  They undergo three phases of training.  Phase 1 is a weeklong orientation.  Some of the topics covered include:

  • Chain of command
  • Interpersonal communications training
  • Staff rules and regulations
  • Defensive tactics
  • Searches
  • Introduction to the following:
    • Direct supervision philosophy
    • Operational guidelines and emergency procedures

The second phase of training takes place on the job.  Typically, new officers train for four weeks with two different field-training officers (FTOs).  These FTOs evaluate the performance of the trainees each day.  These officers are expected to show consistent improvement and become proficient at the duties of a correctional officer.

The correctional facility assigns the trainees to a standard shift as the third phase of training.  The FTOs provide mentoring during the remainder of the probationary period.

To continue to work as a correctional officer at the Strafford County House of Corrections, officers must receive at least 30 training hours a year in such topics as first aid/CPR or use of force.  The facility encourages its correctional officers to apply for openings in its Career Ladder Program and offers specialized training for officers in this program.

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