The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates a medical prison facility in Springfield as well as a community corrections office in St. Louis. The U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners held 1,001 prisoners in 2013. The Missouri Department of Corrections operates 21 correctional facilities with almost 30,000 inmates. The MDOC currently supports 11,500 correctional officers, parole officers, probation supervisors, and administrative staff.
Qualifications to Become a Correctional Officer in Missouri
Federal Educational Requirements
The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires that correctional officers possess at least a bachelor’s degree in any subject, although in some cases this requirement may be satisfied by extensive work experience. Candidates with this level of education may enter the BOP at the GS-5 pay level, which offers salaries ranging from $31,315 up to $40,706.
New correctional officers may also join the Bureau of Prisons at the GS-6 pay level, which provides salaries ranging from $34,907 to $45,376, if they have at least nine semester hours or 14 quarter hours in one of these graduate programs:
- Criminal justice
- Social science
State Educational Requirements
The Missouri Department of Corrections requires that all applicants have a high school diploma. It also has an two year experience requirement that may be satisfied by 60 earned credit hours of study at the post-secondary level. The annual salary for qualified state correctional officers is between $27,324 and $38,040.
Federal Experience Requirements
Applicants seeking a GS-5 job without a bachelor’s degree may substitute three years of full time work experience in one of the following areas:
- Counseling individuals
- Child care
- Emergency situations response
- Selling products or services
- Supervision or management
Candidates for federal correctional officer jobs in Missouri who possess at least one year of full time experience in one of the following specialized fields may be able to obtain a GS-6 pay grade without any graduate coursework:
- Treatment of patients confined to a mental health facility
- Law enforcement
- Supervision of inmates at a jail
- Correctional duties
In some instances, experience acquired through volunteer or unpaid opportunities may be adequate.
State Experience Requirements
The Missouri Department of Corrections requires that applicants for correctional officer jobs at the state level have at least two years of professional experience if they have no college education. This work experience may be satisfied by time served in the U.S. armed forces.
Application Process to Become a Correctional Officer in Missouri
Federal Bureau of Prisons
The process to become a federal correctional officer in Missouri begins with finding a job posting on www.USAJobs.gov. The link to the Office of Personnel Management should be followed, where a pre-employment questionnaire must be completed. Candidates will be asked to verify that they possess the following qualifications:
- U.S. citizen
- Between 20 and 37 years of age
- Have no felony or serious criminal convictions
- Have no history of serious financial improprieties
The formal application should then be submitted to the Federal Bureau of Prisons along with pertinent documents including
- College transcripts and diplomas
- Employer recommendations
- Military veteran documents
- Law enforcement service documents
If approved, candidates will be interviewed at a nearby BOP facility. A medical examination and background investigation will also be conducted.
Missouri Department of Corrections
The Missouri Department of Corrections employs a merit based hiring system in which more qualified applicants receive greater consideration. Applicants should visit the Office of Administration, Division of Personnel to find a correctional officer job opening. Applications may be filed electronically, or applicants may request a paper application. Applicants should possess the following qualifications
- Ability to complete firearms certification training
- 21 years of age or older
- Ability to pass a background investigation
- Possess a valid state driver’s license
Training to Become a Correctional Officer in Missouri
Federal Correctional Officers
The training program for federal correctional officers is provided in Introduction to Correctional Techniques Phase I and II. Phase I is an 80 hour orientation held at the facility the new officer is posted. Phase II is a 120 hour program held at the Staff Training Academy in Glynco, GA. The four components of this phase include
- Physical abilities test comprised of
- Dummy drag
- Run and cuff
- Obstacle course
- Climb and grasp
- Stair climb
- Policies and procedures
State Correctional Officers
New correctional officers must complete 280 hours of academic and practical training prior to active service. New recruits must also successfully complete the Firearms Certification Training program provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections. After the first year, state correctional officers must complete 40 hours of training each year and maintain firearms certification through re-qualification.
Corrections Officer Salary in Missouri
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average Missouri correctional officer salary as of 2012 was $29,300. However, in Springfield, the average was an astounding 30% higher at $42,130, while those in the top ten percent averaged $58,700.
In Missouri, there are several seniority rankings among correctional occupations as can be seen in the salaries provided here by the Missouri Office of Administration.
Corrections Officer I:
- Minimum: $27,324
- Maximum: $38,040
Corrections Officer II:
- Minimum: $29,172
- Maximum: $41,016
Corrections Officer III:
- Minimum: $31,800
- Maximum: $45,108
Corrections Training Officer:
- Minimum: $36,672
- Maximum: $52,176
Corrections Supervisor I:
- Minimum: $35,340
- Maximum: $50,088
Corrections Supervisor II:
- Minimum: $41,016
- Maximum: $60,216
- Band 1
- Minimum: $39,480
- Maximum: $64,212
- Band 2
- Minimum: $46,584
- Maximum: $75,912
- Band 3
- Minimum: $56,016
- Maximum: $91,656
Here the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics provides correctional officer salaries in Missouri’s cities:
Bonne Terre, Missouri Corrections Officer Job Description
Missouri’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (ERDCC) is located in Bonne Terre. It is a maximum-medium security prison for men in eastern Missouri and has the capacity to hold 2,271 inmates. The ERDCC also houses capital offenders once they are placed on their 30-day deathwatch.
The correctional officers at the ERDCC are part of a team that holds offenders responsible for their actions and accountable for their behavior. This enhances the safety of the public and increases the likelihood that the inmates can reenter society as productive citizens upon their release.
Examples of the job duties performed by correctional officers at the ERDCC include the following:
- Maintaining security
- Intervening during emergencies to gain physical control of offenders
- Supervising offenders in the following areas:
- During the performance of work
- During recreational and religious activities
- In housing units
- During visitation
- Preparing and submitting reports on the following areas:
- Offender violations
- Unusual offender behaviors
- Security breaches or failures
- Mechanical deficiencies
Becoming a Correctional Officer in Bonne Terre, Missouri
Becoming a correctional officer in Bonne Terre with Missouri’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center entails becoming an employee of the Missouri Department of Corrections. The department maintains the following requirements for applicants looking to secure correctional officer jobs:
- Work experience of at least a year
- High school diploma or GED
- Valid driver’s license
- Being at least 19 years old at the time of employment
- Ability to pass a background check
College credits can be used to substitute for work experience. Thirty credit hours from an accredited university or college will substitute for one year of experience.
Applicants must take an exam that tests cognition, which helps determine their eligibility for an interview. The top 15 applicants are listed on a Register of eligible candidates that is used to hire new correctional officers when the position is not being filled through a transfer or promotion.
Trainees receive their training from the Missouri Department of Corrections. They must be able to complete firearms certification training to qualify for the correction officer 1 job classification.
Inmate and Staff Education Opportunities at the ERDCC
As a result of public outcry, college programs for inmates were eliminated at most prisons in the 1990s. However, a study in Texas showed that recidivism rates were 4.4 times lower with prisoners who had earned associate degrees, and over ten fold lower for those with bachelor degrees. They found no recidivism among convicts who had earned master’s degrees.
Saint Louis University (SLU) pioneered a program to teach theology to prisoners at the ERDCC. Three hundred prisoners applied for 15 openings in the program, and 12 of them earned a certificate in theology in 2010.
The success of this program led to a $150,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation that launched the country’s first in-prison degree program for both employees and inmates. SLU began offering an associate of arts degree to 20 staff members and 20 inmates at the ERDCC. The inmates are learning on-site, while the staff learn both on-site and online.
Farmington, Missouri Corrections Officer Job Description
Missouri’s state prison in Farmington is known as the Farmington Correction Center (FCC). It opened in 1986 and has the capacity to hold 2,655 men, making it the largest state prison in Missouri. The FCC houses both minimum and medium security inmates.
The staff at the FCC includes a large number of correctional officers. These professionals act to hold offenders accountable for their behavior, increasing the likelihood that they will become productive citizens after they leave prison and reenter society.
Supervising offenders to maintain security is a large part of a correctional officer’s job at the FCC. These officers supervise inmates at all phases of their incarceration, ranging from when the inmates are in their housing units to when they are working or taking part in religious and recreational activities.
Becoming a Correctional Officer at the Farmington Correction Center
Correctional officers at the FCC work for the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC). Applicants can qualify to become Missouri state correctional officers through experience or education. The department requires one year or more of work experience.
Applicants must have at least a high school education, but college credits can substitute for the work requirement on a year-to-year basis. Thirty credit hours will substitute for one year of experience.
Additional requirements to become a correctional officer at the FCC include the following:
- Having a valid driver’s license
- Being able to pass a background check
- Being at least 19 years old at the start of their jobs
Applicants must achieve a high score on an exam that tests basic cognitive abilities. Exam scores determine whether or not applicants make it to the candidate pool being considered for correctional officer jobs in Farmington.
The MDOC chooses its new correctional officers in two ways. In some cases, it accepts new officers through transfers or promotions. At other times, it draws its candidates from a Register of Eligibles. This includes the top 15 applicants based on their exam scores.
The MDOC provides the training to its new correctional officers. Part of learning how to become a correctional officer includes training in the use of firearms. Correctional officers must become certified in their use and maintain this certification throughout their careers.
Inmate Dog Training at the Farmington Correction Center
The MDOC operates the Puppies for Parole program that gives inmates a chance to train local shelter dogs that might otherwise be euthanized. This program provides inmates with skills that they can use upon their release, thus improving their likelihood of successfully reentering society. It also gives them a chance to re-pay the communities for their crimes.
Puppies for Parole also helps with safety within the FCC. The MDOC has found that the program improves the behavior of offenders and gives them an incentive to maintain a high level of conduct, so they will be permitted to work with the dogs.
As of 2011, inmates at the FCC were training their seventh generation of dogs. Dogs trained through this program are re-adopted through their original shelters. They have gone on to homes ranging from families to veterans’ homes. Some of the dogs have received special training to become service animals or cadaver dogs.
Springfield, Missouri Corrections Officer Job Description
The violent crime rate in Springfield is over twice the national average with the rate of forcible rapes and assaults being even higher. Throughout Greene County, there were over 1,500 violent offenses in 2011.
To punish and deter crime in the area, there are three jails in Springfield, including a notable federal penitentiary for male inmates with severe physical and mental illnesses. The presence of these correctional facilities provides jobs for a number of correctional officers.
As the result of a sales tax increase to fund law enforcement efforts, Greene County was in the process of hiring 33 additional correctional officers for the county’s Justice Center in April 2013. The number of correctional officers needed nationally is projected to increase 5% between 2010 and 2020.
How to Become a Correctional Officer in Springfield
Education – Applicants for federal correctional officer positions must have a college degree. To get hired at the GL-6 level, nine semester hours of relevant graduate coursework is required. This includes areas such as criminology, one of the fields of human behavior, or corrections.
While the educational requirements to become a correctional officer for Greene County just specify having a high school diploma or a GED, the Human Resources Department prefers applicants who have criminal justice college coursework or experience, along with those from security or military backgrounds.
Training – Newly hired federal employees learn how to become correctional officers through spending three weeks at the Staff Training Academy in Glynco, GA. Once they are established in their careers, correctional officers that work for the Bureau of Prisons take part in 16 to 40 hours of training a year.
Correctional Facilities in Springfield
The correctional facilities in Springfield include the following:
- U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners Springfield (MCFP Springfield)
- Greene County Justice Center
- Springfield Police Jail
MCFP Springfield employs over 600 people who manage a population of over 1,100 inmates. This prison was the first dedicated medical facility operated by the Bureau of Prisons. It was built during the Depression and opened to much fanfare from the city of Springfield that anticipated the influx of jobs the prison would provide.
This facility was placed in Springfield, because it is virtually in the center of the country. Thus, ill prisoners could be transported to the facility fairly economically. It has housed some notorious prisoners, including John Gotti and Manuel Noriega. Both needed critical medical care that could be provided by MCFP Springfield with high levels of security.
Almost 300 of the inmates of MCFP Springfield have severe, chronic mental illnesses. Telemedicine has helped to reduce the need to transport inmates that are acutely mentally ill by providing diagnosis and treatment through video conferencing. According to an analysis by the National Institute of Justice, this has saved a great deal of money compared to the cost of airlifting ill patients to the facility.
St. Louis, Missouri Corrections Officer Job Description
The crime rate in St. Louis is such that it has been ranked several times as the most dangerous city in the country. This designation is somewhat controversial, since it relies primarily on crime statistics from downtown St. Louis rather than the extended metropolitan area.
These statistics indicate that the murder rate is over seven times greater than the national average. In St. Louis County as a whole, over 96,000 people were arrested in 2011. Several jails are located in or very near St. Louis to deal with such a large population of offenders. They provide a number of jobs for correctional officers in this part of Missouri and include:
- St. Louis City Division of Corrections
- St. Louis City Justice Center on South Tucker
- Medium Security Institution on North Hall Street
- St. Louis County Jail in Clayton
How to Become a Correctional Officer in St. Louis
Education – Correctional officer jobs for both the city and county of St. Louis require a minimum of a high school education. This can be in the form of having graduated from high school or having a GED.
Applicants are also required to have college coursework and two years of work experience. Requirements include 30 semester hours in one of the following topics or a related area:
- Behavioral sciences
An equivalent combination of experience and training can be substituted.
Training – New employees of the St. Louis City Division of Corrections take part in a substantial amount of training to learn how to become correctional officers in the city. This entails:
- Academic coursework
- CPR/first aid training
- Firearms training
Recruits must pass all of these areas to continue as correctional officers. Once established in their careers, correctional officers may be interested in joining the Missouri Corrections Officers Association (MOCOA).
Correctional Facilities in and near St. Louis
The two facilities operated by the St. Louis City Division of Corrections hold adults and certified juveniles who are waiting for their trials to start, along with inmates who have been sentenced for up to a year.
The St. Louis County Jail in Clayton holds both male and female inmates who are awaiting trial or are serving sentences handed down by the county. This jail employs approximately 350 people and is capable of holding 1,232 individuals.
It is located in what was formerly the St. Louis County Justice Center. In 2004, this center was rededicated as The Buzz Westfall Justice Center in honor of the former County Executive, now deceased.