Michigan DOC Hires So Many COs it has its Own Training Academy

The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) expects to hire 3,000 new correctional officers in the next three years to replace those approaching retirement. The state hired a large number of correctional officers during a major hiring spree in the 1980s. Thirty years later in 2015, the Michigan DOC is losing about 70 COs each month to retirement.

The MDOC had relied on community colleges to train its new officers, but these colleges are unable to keep pace with the large number of COs the state needs. This has prompted the MDOC to set up its own training academy in Lansing at a cost of $8.4 million.

The MDOC will continue to ensure COs receive the most comprehensive training available, combining eight weeks of classroom instruction along with eight weeks of on-the-job training in which new employees work with veteran COs to learn the ropes.

The training curriculum benefits from input from guards, inmates, lawyers, and prison officials from around the US. MDOC Director Dan Heyns was quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying that they are constantly refining the academy training to meet with best practices and are “relentless in trying to find a better way to do that job.”

The MDOC had no trouble filling the slots in the training academy, and nearly 300 candidates started their 16 weeks of training in late March 2015. Heyns instructed them to choose their role models carefully, and to develop good habits that would help them succeed in the long run.

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Once they have completed their training, the current group of graduating guards will be assigned to prisons in the Lower Peninsula.

The department will start additional training academies on June 8 and June 22 as they try to hire 1,000 new correctional officers this year. The MDOC is currently accepting applications on its website.