Those who work to secure the county jail and facilitate rehabilitation were honored Monday during the first part of a weeklong celebration for National Correctional Officers Week.
Dozens were out for the breakfast held at the Sheriff’s Office to “honor, celebrate and recognize” the correctional officers for all they do, said Lt. Robert Cortez. The week kicked off Sunday, but Monday was the first of the events and food for those officers.
There are a lot of ways to define what a correctional officer is because they do a lot, he said. They work at the county jail to assist in the rehabilitation of inmates who come through the jail, including helping with different education, religious and recreation programs.
They also facilitate security, though they are not to be confused with jailers, said jail Capt. Jamie Clayton. Correctional officers give hope, provide a good example and encourage positive change in those who are under their supervision, Clayton said.
It requires a lot to be a correctional officer, including intuition, intelligence, training, patience, leadership and dedication, she said as the event began.
The county jail is different than the prisons in the area as it houses both those who have been sentenced and those who haven’t, Clayton said. It’s facing even more changes as realignment takes effect and those who would have been sent to prison are being remanded instead to the county jails. A lot goes into making sure things are safe for those in jail and those outside.
“It can be a thankless job,” she said. “It’s important to come out and recognize these officers. It’s an important job for the community.”
National Correctional Officers Week has been celebrated nationwide in the first full week of May since 1984, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service Web site.
Correctional personnel work under demanding circumstances and face danger in their daily lives, according to the site. The week is about recognizing the contributions made by the men and women who work in jails, prisons and community corrections facilities across the country.
Contrary to what some might think, being a correctional officer is a profession, Cortez said. While the jail used to be set up such that sheriff’s deputies were stationed there before they went on patrol, now correctional officers have taken that place, and they’re there because they want to be there, he said. They want to help.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.
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