By LISA M. REED
IRON MOUNTAIN - Working as a corrections officer is dangerous and may seem like a thankless job, but with the correct attitude, the job can be rewarding.
Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dawn Marsden unlocks the detoxification cell at the Dickinson County Correctional Center.
Corrections officers' main job duties are the safety and security of all the inmates, and the public.
Lt. Bryan Price of the Dickinson County Sheriff's Office said the staff and inmates follow a schedule daily.
He explained their routine.
Around 7 a.m., corrections officers awake inmates.
Then breakfast is served to inmates in the cell or they are brought to the lunchroom, medication is dispersed, and cleaning duties are assigned.
Price said inmates are responsible for cleaning their cells and bathroom.
Inmates who have to get up for work release are awakened earlier or before their scheduled shift.
Between 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., inmates who have served their time are released.
Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m.
The afternoon duties of the corrections officers consist of nurse appointments, mental health evaluations, court hearings and sentencings for the inmates, as well as serving the public by taking finger prints for hazardous materials, and issuing Carrying Concealed Weapons (CCW) permits.
Corrections officers also conduct return searches and research work on whether inmates on work release are on the job working.
Afternoon medications are also dispersed to inmates.
Dinner is served at 5 p.m.
Alcoholics Anonymous, Bible study, church, jail programs and GED classes are offered in the evening.
Bedtime, or lockdown, is at 10 p.m.
Inmate bookings also occur daily at anytime of the day. Corrections officers file paperwork and run reports at night.
Price said corrections staff check on inmates two times an hour, day and night.
Jail staff perspective
"Being assaulted is the most dangerous part of a correction's officers job," Lt. Price said.
"They do get threatened a lot."
Richard Ledzian, corrections officer for the past 13 years, added that another dangerous aspect of the job is not knowing the personality of the inmates, or if they are using any controlled substances.
"You don't know what they're thinking. You keep an eye on what they are doing," he said.
Price added there are well-trained staff at the Dickinson County Correctional Facility, so there are not many problems.
Ledzian added this is no 9 to 5 work schedule when working in law enforcement. The jail is staffed 24/7 and working first, second or third shift along with holidays and weekends is part of the job.
The rotation schedule is hard on the staff and their personal life, and the staff become like family with their co-workers.
A corrections officer is certified to work in a correctional facility and must meet certain criteria.
Within the first year of being hired, officers at Michigan correctional facilities must complete a four-week 40-hour a week training at the academy for a total of 120 hours.
Those interested in being a corrections officer must be 18 years of age or older, a U.S. citizen, have a high school diploma or equivalency, a valid operator's license, no prior felony convictions, pass a drug test, and complete a mental fitness examination, a written examination and be evaluated by a licensed health care professional.
As of March of this year, Price said the physical fitness aspect of the job was changed.
Corrections officers must be able to do 18 sit-ups in 30 seconds, 24 push-ups in 60 seconds, 3.75 inch, 7.50 inch and 11.75 inch high steps 60 times in three minutes.
State requirements vary.
Price added corrections officers must be able to handle stress. They are more than an officer to the inmates.
"You have to be able to handle stress. You are a mother, father, brother, sister, mediator and investigator to the inmates," he said. "The mechanics are easy. It's everything else. The mental aspect is you have to be on your toes all the time."
Greg Lada, a new corrections officer, said he always wanted to get into law enforcement and working for the county is a great way to get experience.
He said it's good knowledge to have.
"Wherever you work in the county (sheriff's office), you will have to work in the jail," he said.
Lisa M. Reed's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.