Elkhart County Sheriff's Office

As a Corrections Officer, I help people.

As a Corrections Officer, I help people.

As a Corrections Officer, I help people.

As a Corrections Officer, I help people.

By Amanda Jones

I’ve attempted for a while now to come up with what it means to be a corrections officer. I remember why I started. I remember during my interview I said I wanted to help people. My answer meant something different when I was a 20-year-old college student. My only opinion of what happened in a jail was based on what I saw on TV.

When I first started working at the jail, my goal was not to stay in corrections but to move onto patrol. Because I didn’t think I could serve my purpose of “helping people” working in the jail.

After my training and I was on my own, my goal changed. I found my passion, and I still feel that way today. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy working with the officers and with the inmates. My answer of “helping people” now does not just mean the community, “protecting and serving” like you see on TV. Now my helping people means providing a service.

Corrections is a public service.

When inmates are in custody, they lose the ability to access the outside world. They lose the ability to get things themselves that we all take for granted, such as toilet paper or clean clothes. Not only do we have the opportunity to provide this service to the inmates, but we also have the duty to do so.

How we treat inmates does not just affect us. It is a drastic chain reaction that affects other inmates, the inmate’s family or friends, and other officers. The other officers don’t necessarily mean officers that work at the jail; it could mean the next time the inmate encounters another officer, they could relate the experience they had with you.

We see so often that officers make decisions across the nation that affect us as officers inside the jail. Law enforcement doesn’t have the same appearance in the eyes of society anymore. This is based on several different reasons, but how officers treat people is one of the reasons we are experiencing what we are experience right now.

This is another way corrections officers can help people. We have this opportunity to put trust back into officers. The way we act or react can make a difference and will make a difference. I (personally) have this opportunity each day to treat someone with respect, listen to someone in need, or help them gain some sort of information that may ease some concerns for them.

Being in corrections gives us this unusual circumstance where we have to have boundaries, rules, and guidelines. However, we have the ability to show compassion and empathy to provide service to people who can’t do things for themselves. We can show happiness or hope to someone who doesn’t feel hopeful or happy.

As officers, it is our profession to be professional. We need to set ourselves to a high standard and raise the bar for our peers and officers across the nation.

This is why I got into corrections and why I have chosen to stay in corrections. Being in corrections, I have found my passion.

I want to be the change that I want to see in the world. The Sheriff’s Office embraces this environment. This is the culture I want to work in and do what I can to change what I can control.