Developing a Career in Corrections Social Work
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What Is a Correctional Treatment Specialist?
As one would imagine, being incarcerated is one of the most stressful and emotionally disturbing events that can happen to a person. In addition to dealing with the emotional stress of being incarcerated, inmates must also prepare for their release back into society, which can be equally – if not more – stressful.
In the past, incarceration was more about punishing offenders and criminals as well as keeping them away from the general public. Today, however, many correctional institutions focus on not just punishing criminals, but attempting to rehabilitate them as well. Rehabilitating criminals instead of simply punishing them not only helps them adjust to society upon their release, but it also helps reduce recidivism rates.
Correctional treatment specialists work to develop plans of action based on each inmates wants and needs. They aim to help make the transition from a correctional facility back into society as smooth as possible and help inmates better themselves. For example, correctional treatment specialists will often help inmates overcome mental health issues, such as anger issues, substance abuse, and other mental and emotional disorders.
Many experts believe that recidivism rates are so high due to the fact that the majority of inmates in our country's correctional institutes have a low level of education. In fact, many of them have never even graduated high school. This lack of education and career skills makes it much harder for them to find and maintain steady employment. Because of this, correctional treatment specialists often focus on helping inmates learn skills that will make them more employable and live up to their full potential.
As our population grows, the number of inmates within the walls of our nation's correctional facilities also inevitably continues to grow. Although inmate rehabilitation has been something of a debate for some time now, studies have shown that it does help to some degree. Rehabilitation programs in our nation's correctional facilities give inmates access to mental health treatment and learning opportunities that were never available or within reach to them. As a correctional treatment specialist, you could help inmates learn the skills they need to stay out of the system and better themselves overall.
What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Correctional Treatment Specialist?
A minimum of a bachelor's degree is typically required for anyone pursuing a correctional treatment specialist career. A major in corrections and a minor in psychology or a major in psychology with a minor in corrections is usually necessary for pursuing this career. However, employers may also consider applicants with degrees in related areas, such as criminal justice, social work, sociology, or therapy.
Although entry-level positions generally only require a bachelor's degree, don't underestimate the value of a graduate degree. In fact, some employers, including federal agencies, may even require a minimum of a master's degree. See below for master's in social work offerings enrolling now:
Why Do We Need Correctional Treatment Specialists?
Unfortunately, many of the inmates that are incarcerated often end up right back behind bars. Correctional treatment specialists work hard to help reduce recidivism rates. They do this by helping inmates overcome obstacles, like substance abuse and anger issues, and make themselves more employable.
What Do Correctional Treatment Specialists Do?
Correctional Treatment Specialists have a number of different duties and responsibilities. In general, however, they help inmates overcome obstacles in their lives and prepare for their release back into society. In order to accomplish these tasks, these specialists typically work closely with other correctional professionals as well as inmates.
First, a correctional treatment specialist will assess and evaluate each inmate they're working with. This is usually done through interviews with inmates and their family, along with administering psychological and intelligence tests. By analyzing an inmate's psychological tendencies, intelligence levels, and past behaviors, a correctional treatment specialist can then create a plan for rehabilitation.
A rehabilitation plan is created in hopes of successfully reintroducing an inmate back into society. It often involves the inmate being involved in educational and mental health programs. Inmates enrolled in educational programs may be able to earn diplomas and degrees, or learn valuable job and career skills. Correctional treatment specialists also make sure that inmates receive any mental health treatment they might need. For instance, inmates are often treated for problems like substance abuse, depression, and anger issues with medications and therapy.
Throughout the process, a correctional treatment specialist is also responsible for monitoring each inmate and keeping track of their progress. Based on this progress, a correctional treatment specialist will often help determine whether an inmate is ready to be paroled.
Where Do Correctional Treatment Specialists Work?
Not surprisingly, the majority of correctional treatment specialists work in correctional facilities, like prisons and penitentiaries. Some of these professionals, however, may also work outside of correctional facilities in conjunction with parole officers.
What Is the Average Salary for Correctional Treatment Specialists?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional treatment officers are lumped in with probation officers, at least when it comes to salary estimates. Because of that, the BLS found that probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned an annual average salary of $53,360 as of May 2014. A correctional treatment specialists salary will depend greatly on education, experience, and location. The BLS estimates the salary range as $32,810 to $83,920.