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New York State Corrections Officer Job Description

New York State corrections officers are not only responsible for the custody and surveillance of the 54,700 criminal offenders housed in 60 state correctional facilities, but also for the safety and well-being of these inmates. As of July 23, 2012, the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) employed 17,766 corrections officers with an additional 200 recruits in the training academy.

Duties of Corrections Officers in New York State

Corrections officer jobs in New York are as designated under peace officer status, requiring these professionals to carry their identification cards at all times, even when not on duty. Their on-the-job responsibilities include:

  • Supervise movements and activities of inmates
  • Make rounds of assigned areas
  • Search spaces and persons for contraband
  • Maintain order
  • Instruct inmates about rules and regulations
  • Help inmates resolve problems
  • Prepare written reports

Qualifications for Job as Corrections Officer in New York State

Federal Bureau of Prisons

The minimum qualifications necessary to join the Federal Bureau of Prisons include:

  • U.S. citizenship (this may be waived for facilities in extreme need of personnel)
  • At least 21 years of age but no older than 36
  • Have no serious criminal convictions
  • Have no major financial obligations

The pay grades for entering federal correctional officers are GS-5 and GS-6.  The requirements for GS-5 employees are:

  • Possession of a bachelor’s degree; or
  • At least three years of experience in
    • Management
    • Sales
    • Teaching
    • Security
    • Counseling
    • Emergency response

The minimum requirements for entry at the GS-6 level are:

  • Nine semester hours of graduate courses in
    • Social science
    • Criminology
    • Law; or
  • One year of service in
    • Law enforcement
    • Mental  health care
    • Corrections

New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)

Candidates interested in learning how to become corrections officers in New York must be:

  • At least 21 years old
  • Physically fit
  • Able to pass New York civil service exam

Announcements of corrections officer openings and exam dates are available at the Department of Civil Service website, or by calling 1-877-697-5627.  Online or paper applications can be submitted when openings occur.

Once candidates pass the written exam and their applications are approved, they will be notified of dates/times to begin the screening process which includes a physical agility test, medical examination, psychological evaluation and background investigation. There is mandatory fingerprinting ($75 fee).

Correction Officers in New York are Exceptionally Physically Fit

On March 7, 2013, a relay team of four New York corrections officers competed in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s 25th annual stair-climbing fundraiser at the Corning Tower in Albany. The four officers beat 16 other teams and won the competition by running up the tower’s 41 floors (809 steps) in 3 minutes, 21 seconds! They helped to raise $50,000 for research to combat the disease.

Training for a Career as Corrections Officer in New York

Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy

The Federal Bureau of Prisons mandates that new correctional officers receive 200 hours of orientation and training, while serving officers must receive between 16 and 40 hours of training each year. The first 80 hours of pre-employment training are administered through the assigned facility, while the remaining 120 hours are conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA. This training includes instruction in firearms, vehicle operations, marksmanship, and policies.

New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)

New York State corrections officers have a 12-month training period. Individuals who successfully complete the screening process are required to participate in an eight-week long training program at the Correctional Services Training Academy in Albany that incorporates both academic courses and rigorous field training. Classroom subjects include:

  • Security Procedures
  • Legal Rights and Responsibilities
  • Emergency Response Procedures
  • Interpersonal Communications
  • Corrections Concepts/Issues

Field work includes firearms training and tough physical fitness training aimed at increasing the recruit’s strength, endurance and stamina. At the end of the training recruits must complete seven sequential job-related tasks within 2 minutes and 14 seconds. Failure to perform this test results in dismissal. The formal training is followed by 10 months working in a correctional facility under the direct supervision of a superior officer before becoming a certified corrections officer.

Corrections Officer Salary and Benefits in New York State

The annual base salary for corrections officer is: first 26 weeks of training – $39,014; second 26 weeks – $41,037; certified corrections officer – $46,990. Recruits are paid an extra $200 upon successful completion of the academy training program. There is also inconvenience pay for persons working evening and night shifts. Raises are based on performance evaluations. Benefits include medical, dental, vision and life insurance.

Corrections Officer Salary in New York

It was reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 that the New York correctional officer salary was $61,140, on average. Those in the top ten percent earned a substantial 28% more at $85,330.

According to the New York State Department of Civil Service and the New York State Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, new corrections officers in New York can expect the following salary structure:

Correction Officer Trainee:

  • First 26 Weeks: $39,014
  • Final 26 Weeks: $41,037
  • Hiring Rate: $46,990

Correction Officer:

  • Hiring Rate: $46,990
  • Step 1: $48,741
  • Step 2: $50,492
  • Step 3: $52,243
  • Step 4: $43,994
  • Step 5: $55,745
  • 10-Year Long: $60,593
  • 15-Year Long: $63,318
  • 20-Year Long: $67,096
  • 25-Year Long (Max): $69,821

Correction Sergeant:

  • Hiring Rate: $55,122
  • Step 1: $57,128
  • Step 2: $59,134
  • Step 3: $61,140
  • Step 4: $63,146
  • Step 5: $65,152
  • 10-Year Long: $70,705
  • 15-Year Long: $73,828
  • 20-Year Long: $77,951
  • 25-Year Long (Max): $81,073

Correction Lieutenant:

Hiring Rate: $64,761

  • Step 1: $67,058
  • Step 2: $69,355
  • Step 3: $71,652
  • Step 4: $73,949
  • Step 5: $76,246
  • 10-Year Long: $81,992
  • 15-Year Long: $85,439
  • 20-Year Long: $90,243
  • 25-Year Long (Max): $93,692

These salary figures have been reported by the Department of Labor to include corrections officers in a number of regions throughout the state of New York:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY
860
51900
Buffalo-Niagara Falls NY
1590
58610
Nassau-Suffolk NY Metropolitan Division
1720
73990
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island NY-NJ-PA
16790
70760
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
11120
70340
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown NY
2660
54180
Syracuse NY
440
48180
Utica-Rome NY
1470
55990
Capital/Northern New York nonmetropolitan area
4090
57880
Southwest New York nonmetropolitan area
2370
54670

Attica, New York Corrections Officer Job Description

Attica Correctional Facility is a maximum-security state prison located in the Wyoming County town of Attica, New York. Attica is known as one of the most notorious prisons in the U.S., both because of the infamous 1971 prison riot that left 43 people dead and the many famous inmates that have called Attica home, including serial killer David Berkowitz (Son of Sam).

Built in 1931 and operated by the New York State Department of Correctional Services & Community Supervision (DOCCS), Attica houses over 2,000 inmates, 84 percent of which are convicted of violent felonies.

As of 2011, 582 correctional officers were employed at the Attica correctional facility. The duties of these correctional officers include:

  • Supervising movements/activities of inmates
  • Searching spaces and persons for contraband
  • Making rounds of assigned areas
  • Maintaining order
  • Instructing inmates about rules and regulations
  • Helping inmates resolve problems
  • Preparing written reports

Steps to Becoming a Correctional Officer at Attica Correctional Facility

The minimum qualifications for the job of New York correctional officer are as follows:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Over 21 years of age
  • Physically fit
  • High school diploma or its equivalent*
  • Must pass written civil service exam with a score of 70 or more

An associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, as well as any law enforcement or security experience, is a distinct advantage.

Training to Become a Correctional Officer at Attica Correctional Facility

All individuals who make it through the screening process are required to participate in 12 months of training. The first eight weeks are spent at the NY Correctional Services Training Academy in Albany, followed by 10 months working under the direct supervision of a superior officer before becoming a certified corrections officer. The training academy consists of both academic courses and field training. Courses include:

  • Security procedures
  • Legal Rights and responsibilities
  • Emergency responses
  • Interpersonal communications
  • Corrections concepts and issues
  • Report writing

Field training focuses on physical fitness as well as firearms proficiency. Fitness training emphasizes strength, endurance and stamina. Students must pass a rigid physical fitness test before being allowed to graduate from the academy.

How to Apply to Work at Attica Correctional Facility

Announcements for job openings and online application forms are available at the NY Department of Civil Service Examination website. Paper applications are also okay; however applications are only accepted for open positions. Call 1-877-697-5627 for job announcements and paper application forms.

New recruits receive an annual salary of $39,014 with a raise after six months. Certified corrections officers receive an annual salary is $46,900. Benefits include medical, dental, vision and life insurance. Other benefits, such as tuition reimbursement, are available through the Corrections Officers and Police Benevolent Association.

About the Attica State Correctional Facility

On March 7, 1913, a team of four New York correctional officers won the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s annual stair-climbing competition in Albany. They defeated 16 other teams by climbing the Corning Tower’s 809 steps (41 floors) in three minutes, 21 seconds! They helped to raise $50,000 for medical research.

The 1971 riot at Attica is said to be the worst prison riot in U.S. history. Approximately 1,300 inmates took part in the rebellion against severe crowding and deplorable conditions. Forty corrections officers were held hostage for five days and it took a siege by state troopers to quell the violence and bloodshed. The riot left 33 inmates and 10 corrections officers dead and many others injured. The horrendous event led to prison reforms that significantly improved the civil rights of prison inmates.

Buffalo, New York Corrections Officer Job Description

The Jail Management Division of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office maintains two jails in the Buffalo area.  The Erie County Holding Center is located in Buffalo, while the Erie County Correctional Facility is located in nearby Alden.  Both facilities hold male and female inmates.

More than half of the sheriff’s budget is devoted to these two facilities.  The holding center is a maximum-security facility that houses approximately 600 high-risk inmates whose average stay is 9.7 days.

In contrast, the correctional facility is a medium security facility that contains approximately 1,070 low to medium risk inmates that have been sentenced.  They are incarcerated for an average of 37 days.

Because of the increasing number of prisoners with significant mental and medical health problems, Erie County spent nearly $1.5 million to build a reception area at the holding center.  This houses newly admitted inmates with medical needs next to the Medical/Mental Health Assessment area.

Maintaining adequate security and care for such a large number of inmates takes a large number of correctional officers.  As of 2014, the county government, Sheriff’s Office, and the State Commission of Corrections have been working together to increase the number of corrections officers in Erie County.

Steps to Becoming a Correctional Officer in Buffalo

Correctional officers in Buffalo look after the well being of the inmates, along with maintaining discipline and supervising their work activities.

Requirements – The requirements to join their ranks include the following:

  • Having excellent vision:
    • Uncorrected of no less than 20/40 in both eyes (neither eye can be less than 20/70)
    • Correctable to 20/20 binocular
  • Having excellent hearing
  • Being at least 21 years old at the time of their appointment
  • Possessing a valid New York state driver’s license
  • Not having had any felony convictions

The minimal educational requirement is a high school education, however, candidates often chose to earn an associate’s degree in corrections or criminal justice.

Civil Service Exam – Applicants must take the written entry-level exam before they can apply for correctional officer jobs that may be available within Erie County.  This 2.5-hour test covers the following:

  • Observing and recalling facts and information
  • Applying written info in a correctional services setting
  • Preparing written material
  • Understanding and interpreting written material

The New York State Department of Civil Service has developed a study guide for those who will be taking the civil service exam.

Applicants who score well on this exam undergo a through background check and a polygraph examination.  Those who pass go on to be trained as correctional officers.

Training – Candidates learn how to become correctional officers in Buffalo by attending the Basic Corrections Training course at the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Jail Management Division.  They spend seven weeks at this academy learning such topics as:

  • Care and custody of inmates
  • Correctional administration and protocols
  • Criminal law and procedures
  • Defensive tactics
  • Ethics
  • Firearms training
  • First aid/CPR
  • Inmate supervision
  • Report writing

Once they have graduated from the academy, the recruits spend six weeks training in the field.  After this, they are well prepared to work in the Jail Management Division for Erie County.

New York City, New York Corrections Officer Job Description

The City of New York Department of Correction (DOC) has been an independent entity since 1895. The daily inmate population under its jurisdiction varies between 12,000-17,000. The success of an operation this large depends on the approximately 9,500 correction officers who are proudly called, “New York’s Boldest.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg administered the oath of office to 306 recruits at a correction academy graduation held at Brooklyn College on April 17, 2013. In his address to the new correction officers Bloomberg said, “Your commitment to protecting others is what makes this the best big-city corrections department in the nation.”

Requirements for Becoming a Federal Corrections Officer in New York City

Federal Bureau of Prison requirements for entry-level (G-5) correctional officer are:

  • U.S. citizen not over the age of 37
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year university OR three years full-time experience in a job that requires guiding, assisting, counseling and directing others. Qualifying occupations include social worker, emergency technician, teacher, probation officer, air traffic controller, nurse, security guard, commissioned salesperson, minister, etc.

Requirements for Becoming a New York City Correction Officer

It is noted that the requirements that must be met to become a New York City correction officer differ from those for New York State. Requirements for New York City correction officer jobs are as follows:

  • U.S citizen at least 21 years old
  • Valid New York driver’s license
  • Permanent resident of NYC or approved surrounding counties like Nassau, Putnam or Rockland
  • A total of 60 academic credits – 39 from an accredited university and 21 for completing training at the NY Corrections Academy OR a high school diploma and two years experience either in the military or in law enforcement
  • No felony, domestic violence or petty larceny convictions
  • Good moral character/respect for the law
  • No evidence of poor attitude toward discipline/authority

Qualified candidates must take a written exam at one of two NYC sites. Dates/times of scheduled walk-in exams are available at the NYC Department of Corrections website under “job opportunities.” Those who pass the exam must successfully complete a background investigation, drug/alcohol screening and physical agility test before beginning training to become a New York City correction officer. (See “Rikers Island Correctional Officer” for training details.)

The entry-level annual salary of NYC correction officers is $37,579 with regular raises up to $76,488 after five years. A longevity bonus of up to $7,365 is awarded at 20 years.

New York City Department of Correction Facilities

In addition to Riker’s Island, which has the capacity to hold 15,000 inmates, the New York City DOC has the following facilities:

  • Borough facilities in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx with a combined capacity of 3,000 detainees either on trial or awaiting trial.
  • Sixteen court pens that hold offenders awaiting the day’s court proceedings.
  • Three hospital prison wards.

Federal Bureau of Prisons in New York City

The federal bureau of prisons maintains the following facilities in New York City:

  • Metropolitan Correctional Center, located across from the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, houses pre-trial and holdover offenders.
  • Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn primarily holds male and female prisoners with either short sentences or pending cases in U.S. District Court.
  • Community Corrections Administrative Offices in Brooklyn serves as a liaison with federal courts and state/local law enforcement agencies.

Otisville, New York Corrections Officer Job Description

The federal correctional institution near Otisville, New York is a medium security prison for male inmates operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Forbes magazine listed Otisville as one of the 10 “cushiest” federal prisons in the country. The facility boasts boccie courts, horseshoe pits, space for soccer games, cookouts with all the trimmings on July 4th and Memorial Day, and accommodations for inmates with kosher diets. Most inmates here are serving sentences of less than 10 years.

Requirements for Becoming a Correctional Officer at Otisville, New York

Education and Experience Requirements – New federal correctional officer recruits enter their jobs at either the GS-5 or GS-6 level, and must meet the following minimum requirements accordingly:

  • GS-5 level: Bachelor’s degree OR minimum of three years experience in a field like management, teaching, counseling or security
  • GS-6 level: Bachelor’s degree and at least nine semester hours in a field like sociology, criminal law, etc. OR bachelor’s degree and one year or more experience in law enforcement, the military, health care or corrections

General qualifications include:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Between the ages of 21 and 36
  • No serious criminal convictions
  • No major outstanding financial obligations
  • Able to pass a rigid background investigation

Education is one of the most important qualifications for beginning a career as a federal corrections officer. Candidates whose applications are accepted must successfully complete a thorough medical examination, a psychological assessment, physical fitness evaluation and personal interview. Personal characteristics sought after in the personal interview include:

  • Empathy
  • Objectivity
  • Perceptiveness
  • Resourcefulness
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Maturity
  • Stability

Training Requirements – All new federal correctional officers spend 200 hours in training and orientation, including 80 hours of orientation at their assigned correctional facility and 120 hours training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, Georgia. All federal correctional officers participate in 16 to 40 hours of additional training every year.

How to Apply – Correctional officers make up the largest portion of employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Applications are only accepted for current openings which are listed at the USA Jobs website, along with online application forms.

Annual salaries for entry-level correctional officers are:

  • GS-5 level – $33,829 to $42,055
  • GS-7 level – $35,672 to $44,843

Federal corrections officers are eligible for all federal employee benefits.

Duties and Responsibilities of Corrections Officers at Otisville, New York

Correctional officers at Otisville are responsible for the custody, surveillance, safety and well-being of criminal offenders. Because Otisville is a medium security prison in which inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes, the duties of correction officers focus on maintaining a calm and cooperative environment. Responsibilities include:

  • Instructing inmates about rules/regulations
  • Making regular rounds of assigned areas
  • Helping inmates solve problems
  • Resolving conflicts between individuals
  • Writing regular reports
  • Supervising activities

Otisville Prison on the Big Screen

Otisville Correctional Facility has been seen or discussed in the following recent movies:

  • 25th Hour (2002)
  • Blow (2001) – based on the life of cocaine smuggler George Jung who served time at Otisville.

Other notable inmates were Kenneth Starr, financial advisor to stars like Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino, who was convicted of fraud/money laundering and Shahawar Siraz, the terrorist who masterminded the foiled New York City subway bombing plot in 2004.

Rikers Island, New York Corrections Officer Job Description

The City of New York bought Rikers Island in 1884 for $180,000. When the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) closed the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island (now Roosevelt Island) in the mid-1930s, the prisoners were transferred to a newly constructed facility on Rikers Island. Landfill was used to expand the island from its original 89-1/2 acres to 415 acres. Although Rikers Island has the capacity to house 15,000 offenders, it currently averages 10,000 inmates.

The island is a small city within a city, incorporating 10 jails, a power plant, maintenance building, transportation facility, K-9 unit and infirmary.

How to Become a Correction Officer on Rikers Island

Persons interested in working as correction officers on Rikers Island must meet the following qualifications:

  • U.S citizen, at least 21 years old, permanent New York City resident
  • Thirty-nine credits from an accredited university (21 additional credits earned at the NY Corrections Academy) OR a high school diploma and two years military or law enforcement experience
  • Clean criminal record
  • Pass written exam, background check, drug screening and physical agility test
  • Successful complete New York City Corrections Training

New York City Corrections Officer Training

In 1927, New York City’s “Prison Keeper’s School.” was the first training school for correction officers in the U.S. Today’s recruits attend a 15-week training program at the NYC Department of Correction Academy, a 39,000-square-foot facility in Queens that boasts nine classrooms, a gymnasium, three dining areas and 42 instructor cubicles. The correction officer training program consists of six main components:

  • Correctional Practices
  • Behavioral Science
  • Law and Compliance
  • Health and Safety
  • Physical Training
  • Firearms and Tactics

Correctional Facilities on Rikers Island

The 10 jails that support correctional officer jobs in Rikers Island are:

  1. Robert M. Davoren Center for adolescent and adult males. It has modular dormitories and cells capable of holding 2,238 offenders.
  2. George Motchan Detention Center for women. Opened in 1971.
  3. Rose M. Singer Center for up to 2,017 women opened in 1988. Has a 25-crib baby nursery. New York City was the nation’s first DOC to open a jail-based nursery. Rose M. Singer was a correction officer killed in the line of duty.
  4. Eric M. Taylor Center for adolescent and adult males sentenced for less than one year and holds up to 1,851 offenders. Able bodied inmates form ground crews and work on facility maintenance.
  5. Anna M. Kross Center can accommodate 2,988 inmates. It consists of 40 units spread out around the island, including  a methadone detoxification unit and a mental health center.
  6. Otis Bantum Correctional Center with dormitories and cells able to hold 1,697 prisoners. Includes a Central Punitive Segregation Unit.
  7. George R Vierno Center houses 1,380 inmates.
  8. James R. Thomas Center can house 1,380 prisoners, all in cells.
  9. North Infirmary Command consists of two infirmary buildings. The other has specialized units for inmates with HIV or AIDS and for those needing extra protective custody due to the notoriety of their cases.
  10. West Facility is a 941-bed unit for men and women. Part of the unit has been converted into a contagious disease center with 140 air-conditioned units for inmates with diseases like tuberculosis.

Rochester, New York Corrections Officer Job Description

Rochester, located south of Lake Ontario in Monroe County, is home to two prisons, a pre-trial detention center that usually holds about 1,000 inmates awaiting trial and the Monroe County Correctional Facility. This minimum-security prison for males over the age of 16 is classified as a rehabilitation and work-release facility.

The facility houses between 585 and 650 inmates who are overseen by a staff of highly qualified correctional officers employed by the New York State Department of Correctional and Community Supervision (DOCCS).

Becoming a Correctional Officer in Rochester, NY

Requirements – New York State correctional officers must meet the following minimum job requirements:

  • U.S. citizen
  • At least 21 years old
  • Physically fit
  • High school diploma (or GED)
  • Pass civil service exam

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree is highly desirable and a significant advantage when it comes to advancing to a supervisory position. The state of New York has an enormous variety of state and private colleges and universities as well as numerous online schools offering relevant degrees in criminal justice or law enforcement administration.

Training – New recruits are required to complete 12 months of intensive training. Eight weeks are spent at the NY Correctional Services Training Academy in Albany. Trainees live at the academy except on weekends. They attend both classroom studies and field training. Courses include such topics as:

  • Security procedures
  • Legal Rights and responsibilities
  • Emergency responses
  • Interpersonal communications
  • Corrections concepts and issues
  • Report writing

Field work involves both physical fitness and firearms training. Fitness training focuses on increasing strength, endurance and stamina. Students must pass a physical fitness test in order to graduate.

Following graduation from the Academy, recruits spend 10 months working under the supervision of a superior officer before being given a regular assignment.

How to Apply – Job opening lists and online application forms are available at the New York Department of Civil Service Examination website. Call 1-877-697-5627 to obtain a paper application. Note that applications are only accepted for open positions. Details about the civil service exam and sample tests are available at the civil service examination website.

Salaries of correctional officers working in Rochester range from $31,889 to $48,973. The median wage is $40,422. Benefits include medical, dental, vision and life insurance.

Working at the Monroe County Correctional Facility in Rochester

The duties of correctional officers in Rochester, NY are:

  • Supervising inmates
  • Making regular rounds
  • Maintaining order
  • Informing inmates of facility rules
  • Counseling/helping inmates as much as possible
  • Searching for illegal goods/items
  • Writing reports

Monroe County prison is well known for its extensive educational, rehabilitative, vocational and transitional programs as well as chaplain and worship services for members of the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Islamic faiths. Kitchen services are willing to accommodate religious diets.

Educational programs include such topics as:

  • GED preparation (GED tests are given six times a year)
  • English as a second language
  • Life skills (money management, time management, etc.)
  • Parenting
  • Basic math survey
  • Law library
  • Interpersonal communications
  •  College orientation and writing

There are also numerous voluntary lectures on health issues like:

  • Cancer prevention
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • AIDS awareness
  • Anger management

A chemical dependency rehabilitation program was introduced in 1994 in which credentialed counselors offer group and individual counseling. Inmates also attend Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous and smoking cessation meetings. The program has proven to reduce prison recidivism.

Transitional services are offered in cooperation with community organizations. They include an employment preparation program and a work release program in which inmates are employed in the community on weekdays but return to the correctional facility after work and on weekends.

Sing Sing, New York Corrections Officer Job Description

Sing Sing Correctional Facility is a maximum-security prison in the Westchester County town of Ossining, New York. Under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), it opened in 1826 as the third state prison built in New York. Its location on the Hudson River 30 miles north of New York City gave rise to the popular saying “up the river” (meaning going to prison).

Sing Sing is unique because it is bisected by a Hudson (Metro-North) railroad track. Four bridges over the four tracks connect the two halves of the facility; two of these bridges, one for pedestrians and one for vehicles, are kept secure within the prison’s parameter.

Becoming a Correctional Officer at New York’s Sing Sing Prison

Sing Sing has roughly 2,000 inmates and a staff of 1,000 employees, including correctional officers.

Correctional officers are responsible for the custody, security, safety and well-being of criminal offenders. Specific duties include:

  • Make regular rounds
  • Supervise inmate movements and activities
  • Conduct contraband searches
  • Maintain order
  • Prepare reports
  • Participate in offender rehabilitation
  • Help to solve inmate problems

Meeting the Requirements

Applicants must meet the following requirements in n order to qualify for New York state correctional officer jobs:

  • At least 21 years of age
  • Citizen of the United States
  • High school graduate or better
  • New York resident
  • Drug free
  • Pass civil service exam with a score of 70 percent or better
  • Pass a physical fitness test
  • Successfully complete a medical examination and psych evaluation
  • No felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
  • Go through a thorough background investigation
  • Get fingerprinted

Note that applicant is responsible for the $75 fingerprinting fee as well as the cost of drug and lab tests.

Although only a high schools diploma or its equivalent is required, any college classes in relevant subjects like criminal justice or law enforcement are an advantage not only for being hired but also for advancing to a supervisory position.

Civil Service Examination Requirement

All candidates for state correctional officer at Sing Sing must earn a score of at least 70 percent on a written civil service examination that focuses on the knowledge and skills needed for the position. Examinations are given in both Spanish and English.  Specific skills tested for include:

  • Interpret and apply rules and regulations
  • Prepare written reports accurately and clearly
  • Comprehend a wide variety of written material

Applicants must earn a score of at least 70 on the test. Test guidelines and samples are available at the civil service examination website.

Training for the Job

All new recruits are required to complete a 12-month training program. The first eight weeks are spent at the DOCCS training academy in Albany, NY. Recruits remain at the academy each week from Sunday evenings through Friday afternoons. The “paramilitary” type training focuses on:

  • Physical fitness training
  • Firearms proficiency
  • Defensive tactics
  • Correctional officer certification

Successful completion of the eight-week training qualifies graduates as NY Peace Officers and is worth 16 college credits toward a college degree in law enforcement.

Academy training is followed by three weeks on-the-job training under direct supervision before new officers are assigned to full duty at a correctional facility. An additional 32 weeks are spent on probation before becoming a G14 Corrections Officer.

How to Apply for a Correctional Officer Job

Job announcements and online application forms are available at the NY Department of Civil Service Examination website. The site also contains an email address for requesting a paper application.

Corrections officer’s annual salary is $39,014 (upon hiring), $41,037 (raise after six months), and $46,990 (beginning corrections officer). There are regular raises and an attractive benefit package.

Historical Museum Planned at Sing Sing Correctional Facility

The NY Department of Corrections and city officials in Ossining are working together to turn Sing Sing’s original 1825 cellblock and guard tower into a historic museum.

The prison has a colorful and notorious history. It was used as the backdrop for many movies of the 1930s and 1940s, such as “The Big House” (1930) and “Angels with Dirty Faces” (1938), the classic gangster movie starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. Sing Sing was also home to the famous electric chair known as “Old Sparky” which was used to execute 614 people. New York State no longer executes criminals.

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