As of 2013 Mississippi houses 20,585 prison inmates, which is a rate of 690 per 100,000 state residents. In 2011, Mississippi’s crime rate was four percent higher than the national average. Additionally, Mississippi has two federal correctional facilities within its borders. These institutions house an additional 6167 prisoners. Correctional officer jobs may be spread throughout the federal or state corrections systems in Mississippi.
Tips for Becoming a Correctional Officer in Mississippi
- The federal correctional system requires federal correctional officers in Mississippi to have a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs. In lieu of a bachelor’s degree, candidates may claim experience as listed below.
- The Mississippi Department of Corrections requires that state correctional officers have a high school diploma or GED.
- For candidates who do not have a bachelor’s degree, entry-level federal correctional officer jobs may be obtained through three years of full-timework experience in any of these areas:
- Guiding/directing others
- Supervising others
- Instruction of others
- Emergency response
- Counseling of others
- The state of Mississippi does not require its correctional officer trainees to have experience in any particular area.
- The federal correctional system requires candidates to be younger than 37 at the time of application. All applicants must also be U.S. citizens.
- The Mississippi Department of Corrections requires that all state correctional officers are at least 18 years of age, have no felony convictions on record, possess a driver’s license and possess a social security card.
Application Process to Become a Correctional Officer in Mississippi
- Candidates may search for and apply for available federal correctional officer jobs at USAjobs.gov
- All candidates must go through the interview and background investigation process.
- Selected candidates also must pass a drug test and physical exam.
- Available state correctional officer jobs are posted on the Mississippi Department of Corrections website.
- Testing dates are listed. Interested candidates must report to the specified location on the testing date and time with proof of education, social security card, driver’s license, and names and contact information for five non-family references.
- Those who pass the test may be called for a board interview
- Additional pre-employment testing includes drug testing and a physical exam
Training for Correctional Officers in Mississippi
Training for federal correctional officers in Mississippi takes place at their assigned correctional facility in the state and at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Glynco, GA. Policies, procedures, rules, regulations, firearms and self-defense are just a few of the areas in which new officers receive instruction.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections provides 240 hours of new employee training at all of its facilities. Each year, correctional officers must complete 16 hours of general in-service training plus 40 hours of specific inmate contact training.
Mississippi’s Correctional Facilities
- Correctional Institution Adams County, Natchez
- Yazoo City Federal Correctional Complex, Yazoo City
- Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, Pearl
- Mississippi State Penitentiary, Parchman
- South Mississippi Correctional Institution, Leakesville
Corrections Officer Salary in Mississippi
According to the Department of Labor, the average Mississippi correctional officer salary as of 2012 was $26,800. Hattiesburg was a particularly high paying area with an average of $28,700, which was nearly 7% higher than the statewide average for correctional officers.
The Mississippi State Personnel Board reports the following correctional officer salaries:
Correctional Officer Trainee:
- Minimum: $22,005.62
- Maximum: $38,509.84
Correctional Officer I:
- Minimum: $23,183.46
- Maximum: $40,571.06
Correctional Officer II:
- Minimum: $24,420.16
- Maximum: $42,735.28
Correctional Officer III:
- Minimum: $25,718.70
- Maximum: $45,007.73
Correctional Officer IV (Sergeant):
- Minimum: $27,082.18
- Maximum: $47,393.82
- Minimum: $31,377.11
- Maximum: $54,909.94
- Minimum: $56,587.50
- Maximum: $99,028.13
- Minimum: $71,751.14
- Maximum: $125,564.50
The data shown below was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and includes corrections officer salaries throughout Mississippi:
Gulfport, Mississippi Corrections Officer Job Description
The crime rate in Gulfport is higher than the national average. In particular, the rate of murders is more than three times higher than the average U.S. rate. To help deter and punish crime in the area, there are two correctional facilities in and around Gulfport:
- Hancock County Sheriff’s Department Jail
- Stone County Correctional Facility
Mississippi has the second largest number of people incarcerated per capita in the country, and this required the oversight of some 6,350 correctional officers as of May 2012.
How to Become a Correctional Officer in Gulfport
Education – The requirements to become a correctional officer for the state of Mississippi include having graduated from high school or having a GED and being 18 years of age. In addition, to work for the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), applicants must not have any felonies on their records and must be a citizen of the U.S.
Training – New employees of the MDOC learn how to become correctional officers first through paid training at an academy. Training involves the following topics:
- Agency policy
- Control of contraband
- First aid
- Professional ethics
- Report writing
- Use of chemical agents
- Use of restraint gear
After they are finished their academic training, the new correctional officers receive four weeks of on the job training to start their careers. There is opportunity for advancement, and the current MDOC Commissioner started out at the department as a correctional officer.
Training for correctional officers who work for the counties of Mississippi was standardized in 2000 with the County Jail Officers Training Program (CJOTP) Act.
Programs of the Stone County Correctional Facility
Located on Industrial Park Road in Wiggins, the Stone County Correctional Facility opened at the end of 2000. It is one of 15 regional facilities operated by the MDOC and has been accredited twice by the America Correctional Association, most recently in May 2011. As of June 1, 2013 this jail was virtually full to its 280 bed capacity with one bed to spare.
The Stone County Correctional Facility offers a number of programs to help offenders learn skills, so they can reintegrate into society as productive members. There are programs on both getting a GED and on adult basic education, along with alcohol and drug programs. Correctional officers train the inmates in life skills. For inmates who are due to be released soon, there is a pre-release program. Religious services are offered, and there are five levels of discipleship training.
Jackson, Mississippi Corrections Officer Job Description
Jackson’s crime rate is over three times greater than that of the rest of Mississippi. The number of violent crimes in Jackson increased in 2012 as compared to 2011, and the city has one of the highest rates of thefts of motor vehicles in the country. To try and prevent further crime, Jackson has several correctional facilities that employ many of the state’s correctional officers. In Mississippi as a whole, there were over 6,300 such officers employed in May 2012.
Two federal correctional facilities are located near Jackson. Both medium and low security prisons are located in Yazoo City, 36 miles north of Jackson. A new federal facility is also being built in Yazoo City. This high-security correctional facility is projected to open in 2013. It will house approximately 1,200 inmates and is expected to create 218 new positions for correctional officers.
Other jails in and near Jackson include the following:
- Central Mississippi Correctional Institute
- Copiah County Jail
- Jackson County Jail
- Madison County Jail
- Rankin County Jail
- Simpson County Jail
- Yazoo City Correctional Facility
Becoming a Correctional Officer in Jackson
Education – Correctional officers who work for the federal government are required to have a college education. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum level to qualify to apply for federal correctional officer jobs. To be employed at the GL-6 level, nine hours of graduate coursework in corrections, criminology, or human behavior is required.
The requirements to become a correctional officer for the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) include having a high school education and being at least 18 years old. Correctional officers for the MDOC oversaw 3,317 inmates in the Central Mississippi Correctional Institute in early June 2013.
Training – New federal employees learn how to become correctional officers through three weeks in Glynco, GA, at the Staff Training Academy. To continue with their careers, federal correctional officers must take part in 16-40 hours of annual training.
Training for MDOC correctional officers includes paid academy training, followed by on the job training for four weeks at their assigned correctional facility.
Correctional officers who work for any of the counties of Mississippi are trained according to the guidelines of the County Jail Officers Training Program (CJOTP) Act that went into effect in July 2000.
Unicor in Yazoo City
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) places an emphasis on efforts to reduce the likelihood of federal inmates reoffending when they return to society. One way in which they do this is to provide jobs for inmates to learn marketable skills and improve their work ethic.
Unicor is a company run by the BOP that employs inmates throughout the U.S. Items are purchased by other government agencies, and Unicor received over $272 million in defense contracts from 2000 to 2012.
There are 24 clothing and textiles facilities at correctional institutions throughout the country. One such facility is located at Yazoo City. Inmates at this factory make uniforms.
Leakesville, Mississippi Corrections Officer Job Description
The South Mississippi Correctional Institution (SMCI) is the newest prison in the state. It was established in 1989 and was the first state prison to receive accreditation from the American Correctional Association and National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
SMCI has a capacity of 3,282 beds. As of early March 2014, it was operating near capacity with 3,239 inmates were incarcerated in the facility.
The mission of the prison is to promote and provide public safety through the effective and efficient care, custody, control, and treatment of offenders in accordance with sound correctional principles that adhere to constitutional practices.
Approximately 515 employees work full time to oversee the care and treatment of these prisoners, including a large number of corrections officers.
Requirements to Become a Correctional Officer in Leakesville
Applicants for correctional officer jobs at SMCI are interviewed and screened at the facility when the position is advertised at the website of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). They must report with the following items:
- Proof of having a high school diploma or an approved GED
- Valid driver’s license
- Social security card
- Proof of Selective Service Registration (if applicable)
- Contact information and name for five character references
- These cannot be family members
Earning an associate’s degree with college credit in a relevant field such as criminal justice can help applicants to stand out in the hiring process.
THE MDOC encourages applicants to wear athletic clothing and tennis shoes, because part of the screening process involves a physical agility test. They will have to climb a tower and walk or run a mile within half an hour. In addition, they will go through the following procedures:
- Report writing exercise
- Math test
Successful applicants will receive eight weeks of training from the MDOC Training Academy. Trainees will learn the following during their eight weeks of training:
- History of corrections in Mississippi
- Security procedures relating to the care, control, and custody of inmates
- Administrative report writing
- Firearms training
- Hostage negotiations
- Self defense
After this, they will train at SCMI with a seasoned supervisor for at least a week. They must complete this training to graduate from the academy.
In addition to their initial training, correctional officers will have to undergo 40 hours of in-service training each year.
Employees that supervise youth offenders receive 40 hours of specialized training, as do those who work with mentally ill offenders.
Work Programs for Offenders at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution
SMCI is a 360-acre property, and 25 of these acres are devoted to blueberry bushes. Inmates harvested over 57,000 pounds of blueberries in 2012 worth $79,594.
This facility is the only state institution with a boot camp program designed to instill inmates with a strong work ethic and divert them from criminal behavior. Inmates from SMCI provided over 49,000 hours of free labor to adjacent municipalities, counties, and other state agencies in 2012.
Both adult basic education and GED classes are offered at SMCI. The institution provides vocational training in the following areas:
- Auto body
- Auto mechanics
- Plumbing and pipefitting
Inmates can also find employment through the Mississippi Prison Industries Corporation (MPIC). They are trained to manufacture clothing, both for themselves and for other state agencies. The clothing produced includes uniforms for correctional officers.
Yazoo City, Mississippi Corrections Officer Job Description
The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has a complex of federal correctional institutes (FCIs) at Yazoo City in Mississippi:
- FCI Yazoo City Low for minimum-security prisoners that holds 1,941 inmates
- FCI Yazoo City Medium security facility holds 1,654 inmates
The BOP considers this complex to be unique because of its design, mission, and programs. The Yazoo City complex offers numerous services and programs for all of its inmates with the end goal of helping them work towards a law-abiding lifestyle.
Correctional officers are directly responsible for the immediate supervision of the inmates, as well as enforcing the institution’s rules and regulations.
Becoming a Correctional Officer in Yazoo City
Correctional officers at Yazoo City are federal employees of the Bureau Of Prisons. They are rigorously screened before being selected for these jobs.
Qualifying – Applicants can apply at the GS-05 or GS-06 levels. Applicants can demonstrate their qualifications through education or selected types of experience.
GS-05: Bachelor’s degree in any major or three years of general experience such as counseling, persuasive sales, or emergency response
GS-07: Nine semester hours or 14 credit hours or graduate work in social science, criminal justice, or a related field such as law OR one year of specialized experience that involved either tasks typical of law enforcement officers or those involving implementing correctional or mental health facility rules and regulations
Training – Trainees study the policies and procedures of FCI Yazoo City for 80 hours. They also study the Introduction to Correctional Techniques course for three weeks in Glynco, Georgia.
During their time in Georgia, they train to use firearms and become physically fit in addition to learning about legal precedents and protocols.
Educational Programs for Offenders at FCI Yazoo City
FCI Yazoo City offers both mandated educational programs such as GED programs and such optional programs as college correspondence courses. GED classes in English and Spanish are offered, and the institution offers a special program for inmates with learning difficulties.
Another federally mandated program is English as a Second Language (ESL). FCI Yazoo City offers a $25 reward for inmates who complete their GED, ESL, or apprenticeship programs.
Registered apprenticeship programs can last 1-4 years and are offered in the following areas:
- Custodial maintenance
The Vocational Training programs at FCI Yazoo are affiliated with Holmes Community College, which offers certificates of completion to graduates of the following courses:
- Microsoft Office Applications
- Restaurant Management
- Graduates can earn certificates from both the Mississippi and the National Restaurant Associations
- Heating and Air Conditioning
- Graduates can take the EPA Refrigerant Handling exam