My career in the field of corrections began after being hired by the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a Correctional Officer at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York. It was a busy time! I was a mother of two incredible boys, and had just completed my Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, while working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as a Law Enforcement Liaison in the Freedom of Information Act Unit. I also completed an internship at Les Marquis Federal Halfway House in New York City, New York, where I interacted with inmates released from the Federal Bureau of Prisons to the halfway house with six months or less to complete in their sentences. I was responsible for assisting the residences secure employment/vocational training, re-connecting with family, and readjusting to life in the community. The residents often faced many barriers during their reintegration back into the community. This enabled me to gain the experience and knowledge of the needs of this population that were required for me to be effective in my capacity as a Correctional Officer. I previously completed my Associate’s Degree in Applied Science at New York City College of Technology, and also completed an internship with the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice, as a part of the program requirements.
While working at the Metropolitan Detention Center, I soon learned this was the career I desired. I enjoyed working with this population. As a correctional officer, I learned some invaluable lessons about how this population should be treated. My administrators emphasized that “inmates are there as punishment and are not there for punishment.” It was not my role to make things more difficult for them. I soon found my presence could be a positive influence, and made a diligent effort to reach out to the inmates in a counseling/mentoring capacity. I subsequently transferred to the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Miami were I worked for approximately one year. Correctional Officers have a great deal of power and influence and can provide much needed positive role models for incarceratated individuals. In my opinion, it is critical for correctional officers to “listen to the inmates’ stories” and when able, and if appropriate, provide guidance and suggestions. After all, they will all, at some point, be released into the community. This is what makes the job rewarding and has provided me with a sense of being able “to make a difference”. While at FDC Miami, I continued my interaction with the inmate population, and through my interaction was informed by an inmate that I would make a great Probation Officer. Prior to this, I had not given much thought to being employed in that capacity, but I began to give it some through.
Shortly after applying for a position as a Probation Officer in the District of Columbia, I was hired by Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), as a Community Supervision Officer (CSO) in 2001. While employed with CSOSA, I was responsible for supervising adult offenders placed on probation after being adjudicated in DC Superior Court, and parolees released from the Federal Bureau of Prisons who have completed a period of incarceration. My correctional experience enabled me to understand the needs of this population and interact with them effectively.
In 2010, I transitioned to DC Superior Court where I am currently employed as a Juvenile Probation Officer. I currently supervise a caseload of 19 juveniles during the pre-adjudication, pre-disposition, and post disposition phases charged with offenses in the District of Columbia. We utilize programs such as the Balance and Restorative Program (BARJ), which provides the youth with a safe pro-social environment afterschool Monday-Friday from 4-8:30pm and Saturday from 10-2:00pm.The youth attending this program participate in tutoring and other structured programming (Ander Management, Substance Abuse Education Groups, and Life Skills) designed to accommodate the conditions of release. One of the key components of the services we provide for juveniles includes Psycho-Educational Evaluations, and Psychological testing designed to assess educational and mental health deficiencies. These evaluations ensure that our youth are placed in the appropriate educational setting, and are afforded the necessary mental health services. In some case the youth are provided an educational advocate, to assist in placing the youth in an appropriate educational setting.
In addition to my wonderful career as a Probation Officer, I am currently completing my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Mental Health Counseling at Bowie University, and will graduate in May of 2013. My Master’s thesis examines the existence of a causal relationship in juveniles with ADHA and the types of offenses they are charged with.
Overall, I have found corrections to be a great career. It has not only been challenging, it has also provided me with several opportunities for professional growth and diverse experiences. I look forward to coming to work each day! What more could I ask for from this rewarding career!