Correctional officers are supposed to take care of the inmates in remand or after conviction. They ensure that detainees are secure, healthy and safe, and supervise them throughout their stay in prisons. They also maintain order within the prisons and provide security for other people within the facilities. Governments started using correctional officers in the 19th century. At that time, there was no formal system for the job, and they officers wore casually. Their primary role was to lock and unlock padlocks whenever the inmates were required out. They were referred to as guards (Colorado College, 2017).
The roles of guards changed with time because of the increase in the inmates' number and the expansion of the prisons in the 20th century. They had more powers and had increased control over the prisoners. They could interact with them directly; they escorted the prisoners to courts and other places whenever needed. They were more assertive, had acquired training and maintained a professional appearance as compared to their counterparts a few decades before. Their primary mode of disciplining inmates was corporal punishment. Those who broke the law by disregarding orders or assaulting the guards were whipped. Despite the brutality, there was also a close relationship with some of the inmates; those who were considered trustworthy were used by the officials to supervise others.
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In the mid-20th century, state departments started restructuring the prison system. They started hiring qualified and professional officers and changed their payment structure from the hourly wage system to salaries (Colorado College, 2017b). There was an emphasis on the rehabilitating the inmates other than holding and punishing them. The goal of rehabilitation was to correct behavior, educate, train, and instill the sense of leading useful lives after the prison terms. The system also allowed for a more interactive relationship where the wardens could listen to inmates; the warden's word was not final as it had been years earlier. This interactive system has been the practice to date.
Today, prisons have adapted to the rehabilitative system where inmates are educated and trained in skills that help them get jobs after their jail terms. Brutality by correctional officers is minimal compared to the 19th and the 20th centuries. There has also been the incorporation of the civil rights issues in the management of the prisons; many women and people from other minority groups are employed within prisons.
Colorado College. (2017a). Corrections Officers. Retrieved March 8, 2017 from: https://sites.coloradocollege.edu/hip/corrections-officers/
Colorado College. (2017b). Wardens’ Reform. Retrieved March 8, 2017 from: https://sites.coloradocollege.edu/hip/wayne-k-patterson/