Working in jail can consist of many different positions.
You may work in healthcare, as a prison guard, or even within the cafeteria.
Regardless of what you do, you would be working side by side with the inmates.
It can be both exciting and terrifying.
Knowing about the pros and cons will help you to decide if working in a jail is a career move that you should make.
Table of Contents
- Pros of Working in a Jail
- Cons of Working in a Jail
- Pros and Cons of Working in a Jail – Summary Table
- Should You Work in a Jail?
Pros of Working in a Jail
Jails and prisons are found all over the country.
Working with prisoners can be considered a civic duty – and if you are eager to participate in the justice system, working in jail can be a great career move.
Understanding the pros will make it easier to decide if you should explore the various positions that are available.
1. Pay is Good
The pay for working in a jail is considered high, especially when many of the positions do not require anything more than a high school diploma or GED.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies that a correctional officer, for example, can earn a median pay of $47,920 per year.
As you gain more experience and move up in position, you can expect even more pay.
2. There are Plenty of Job Opportunities
Many cities have an array of job opportunities.
You can choose to work for a county jail or even a federal prison.
Once you have the experience working in a jail, it can open up all sorts of other opportunities as people will realize that you have the ability to manage inmates.
3. There Is Room for Growth
Once you work in the jail as a correctional officer, you will have room to grow.
You may be responsible for training new officers.
You may also get tagged to run the entire jail or prison.
Additionally, you may decide to move into other areas of the justice system, such as becoming a bailiff or a law enforcement officer.
4. Job Security
There is a significant amount of job security when you work at a jail.
Although there is a decline in the number of operating jails and prisons around the country, many locations are extremely short in terms of officers.
This is because many people deem the position to be dangerous.
With experience, you can often name the place you want to work.
5. Benefits are Good
The benefits of working in a prison are good.
In many instances, you will be employed by the city, state, or federal government.
In addition to your salary, you will be given access to health insurance, life insurance, and even a pension to help you with retirement.
You may also be given other government benefits, ranging from gym memberships to tuition reimbursement.
6. Every Day is Different
Every day is going to be different.
You will meet new inmates, deal with new challenges, and have the ability to make an impact in some way.
Depending on your job, you may get a change of scenery, too – working inside, outside, or even managing prisoner transport from one facility to another.
7. Your Job is Meaningful
You get to enjoy the fact that your job is meaningful.
If you did not do your job, there would be a gap within the prison system.
Someone has to step in to do what it is that you do so that prisoners are kept inside of the jail and are looked after to the fullest extent of the law.
8. Many Positions Do Not Require College Degrees
Many of the positions that you can hold within a jail do not require college degrees.
It allows you to get started in a career immediately following high school.
The correction facility will provide you with all of the training.
The added bonus is that you will not have to go into debt as a result of paying for a college degree that you do not need/will not use.
9. You Will Always Have Stories to Tell
Working in a jail means that you will meet all sorts of colorful people.
Sometimes, you will have the chance to talk with the inmates.
Other times, you may experience unique scenarios, fights, and much more.
It will give you something to talk about when you get home.
You can tell the stories when you are with a group of friends to give you street credit within your social life.
10. You Will Have More Gratitude in Your Life
By seeing what prisoners have done and the various environments that they are exposed to, you can be extremely grateful that you have the life that you do.
While you work in a prison, you get to go home every night to a soft bed, hot food, and the company of family and friends.
This daily lesson in gratitude can turn you into a more optimistic person.
Cons of Working in a Jail
Jails and prisons can be dangerous places – and it is important to understand all of the cons of this kind of work environment.
As you explore the downsides, you can decide if you are ready to rise to the challenge to work inside of a jail on a daily basis.
1. It Is Dangerous
There is a lot of danger when you work in jail simply because of who you are working around.
The inmates are not always locked behind bars.
You may be responsible for working with them inside of their cells, taking them to different places within the jail, and even helping them with rehabilitation.
The danger is always there because many inmates feel as though they have nothing to lose, especially if they are in for life.
2. There Is a Lot of Training
Those who work inside of jails and prisons are given a lot of training.
Depending on the position that you have, you may have to spend months in the classroom and on-the-job training before you are allowed to be unsupervised.
The training focuses on the job as well as how to manage yourself around the inmates.
If there has been a recent accident or security breach, there will be even more training to complete.
3. Working Conditions are Poor
The working conditions inside a jail are often poor.
You may not see daylight for the entirety of your shift.
Inmates are not given a lot of perks.
They do not exist.
As such, you will spend most of your day looking at drab gray walls and concrete floors.
Do not expect gourmet lunch breaks, either.
The conditions can be poor enough that they can lead you into a state of depression if you are not careful.
4. It Is Stressful
There is a lot of stress when you work inside of a jail.
Inmates are often looking to create a hostile environment.
When they are allowed to socialize with other inmates, you may have to break up a fight.
The entire process is stressful, especially as you see inmates get denied parole, get shipped off to Death Row, and much more.
You will have to learn to separate your feelings from the job.
5. Inmates are Mean
Many of the inmates are murderers, thieves, and rapists.
They are not nice people.
They are in jail for a reason – because they committed heinous crimes.
These are the people you will have to work with each and every day.
Some may spit at you, scream at you, and try to attack you.
No matter how mean they are to you, you will have to remain professional – and return the next day because it is your job.
6. Work Schedules are Inconsistent
Work schedules are not always consistent because it will depend on what is going on for the day.
You may find yourself working long hours as well as nights, weekends, and holidays.
Inmates do not get a day off – and you might not, either.
The top priority of a jail is to monitor the inmates.
As long as there are inmates, someone has to be there.
The only upside to this is that it can help you to earn overtime pay.
7. People Assume the Worst of You
The moment that you tell people that you work at a jail, they will think the worst of you.
Are you a criminal, too?
What did you do wrong to land in a jail?
You will have to constantly explain your career choice to those around you, and many will not understand why you chose to work in a jail.
8. Teleworking Is Not Possible
Teleworking is not a possibility.
You will always have to be on-site so that you can monitor the inmates and get your job done.
This means that if you are sick, you cannot just work from home and still get paid.
You may have to lose pay if you are sick or need to care for someone in your family.
Pros and Cons of Working in a Jail – Summary Table
|Pros of Working in a Jail||Cons of Working in a Jail|
|1. Pay is Good||1. It Is Dangerous|
|2. There are Plenty of Job Opportunities||2. There Is a Lot of Training|
|3. There Is Room for Growth||3. Working Conditions are Poor|
|4. Job Security||4. It Is Stressful|
|5. Benefits are Good||5. Inmates are Mean|
|6. Every Day is Different||6. Work Schedules are Inconsistent|
|7. Your Job is Meaningful||7. People Assume the Worst of You|
|8. Many Positions Do Not Require College Degrees||8. Teleworking Is Not Possible|
|9. You Will Always Have Stories to Tell|
|10. You Will Have More Gratitude in Your Life|
Should You Work in a Jail?
There are countless work environments that you can choose from.
Working in a jail is unlike anything else.
You will find that each day poses new challenges, so you will never have a “boring” day at work.
By fully understanding the pros and cons, you can decide if working in a jail is right for you.
If you are considering a position at a jail, ask for a tour and even talk to some of the other employees.
It can help you to get a full picture before committing to a specific job.