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According to a 2011 report conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, recidivism rates continue to remain a hot button topic across the country, as states struggle to successfully release offenders back into the community.
The report, entitled “State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons,” revealed that more than four in ten offenders return to state prison within three years of their release, even as states spend more than $50 billion each year on corrections.
Correctional treatment specialists, often called case managers, are the professionals who are charged with counseling inmates before their probation, parole or release. They therefore play an important role in curbing recidivism, as it is through their counsel and advice that inmates are released into society.
Correctional Treatment Specialist Job Description
Correctional treatment specialists work alongside a department’s probation and parole officers to provide inmates with counseling, education, and employment plans as to successfully reintegrate back into society once released.
Correctional treatment specialists prepare reports of their meetings, and these reports are often used to determine whether an inmate receives parole or probation. Reports often include plans of actions for an inmate’s reintroduction to society.
Correctional treatment specialists most often work in correctional institutions, although some work with parole officers in the field. A correctional treatment specialist’s counseling work often involves counseling related to sexual abuse, anger management, or drug abuse.
The typical job duties of correctional treatment specialists include:
- Consulting with probation or parole officers to observe an inmate’s behavior and willingness to adhere to the conditions of probation or parole
- Interviewing inmates and consulting with correctional officers, supervisory personnel, and clinical psychologists to evaluate an inmate’s behavioral and social progress
- Studying inmates’ past behavior, behavior while incarcerated, and psychological issues and writing case plans used in parole hearings or for referral to counseling or other therapies
- Helping soon-to-be-released inmates acquire jobs skills, find employment, or enroll in educational programs
Differences between Correctional Treatment Specialists and Probation/Parole Officers
Although, at first glance, the duties of correctional treatment specialists seem similar to probation or parole officers, their work is rather different. They are the professionals who bridge justice departments and social services systems, helping convicted criminals reintegrate into society through courses of action and/or treatment plans.
They work in an advisory capacity and, through counseling, gauge the needs of inmates and develop a plan that the inmates follow while incarcerated and throughout their probation, parole or release. Probation and parole officers work alongside correctional treatment specialists to ensure that the plans are being followed and that the offender remains compliant with court-ordered probation or parole.
Requirements for Correctional Treatment Specialist Careers
The most common course of study for correctional treatment specialists is a bachelor’s degree in one of the social or behavioral sciences, such as sociology, social work, psychology, or criminology. However, many departments accept correctional treatment specialists with bachelor’s degrees in other areas, provided they can show proof of related coursework in the behavioral or social sciences.
Candidates for correctional treatment specialist positions within the Federal Bureau of Prisons must, at a minimum, possess a four-year degree that includes at least 24 hours in the behavioral sciences or social sciences.
Correctional treatment specialists desiring advancement in the profession often go on to achieve masters or doctoral degrees in such fields as criminology, psychology, or law.
Professional Certification Opportunities for Correctional Treatment Specialists
Although there is no mandatory professional certification required for correctional treatment specialists, many of these professionals achieve professional certification through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). Through certification individuals may receive the designation of Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) or the Canadian Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CCRC)
Individuals must possess a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field to qualify to take the exam and become certified.
Salary and Employment Statistics for Correctional Treatment Specialists
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2012 there were 86,780 correctional treatment specialists employed in the United States. The median annual wage during this time was $48,190, with the top 10 percent earning more than $83,410.
Industries with the highest level of employment for correctional treatment specialists were:
- State Government (OES Designation)
- Local Government (OES Designation)
- Individual and Family Services
- Facilities Support Services
- Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Recent job postings for BOP correctional treatment specialists showed the salary range for this position ranging from $45,940 to $118,481. A recent job in Virginia showed the salary range for correctional treatment specialists to be between $31,352 and $64,347.