On a daily basis, correctional officers across the country face dangerous situations that challenge their safety.
Inmates are creative and inventive in fashioning improvised stab weapons from everyday objects or materials – even objects as simple as toothbrushes. To ensure that correctional officers have the protection they need against these threats, the National Institute of Justice maintains the stab-resistant body armor standard to ensure officers have the appropriate protection against the knife and spike threats they face.
One of the greatest threats to correctional officer wellness involves the stress they encounter daily. Working in correctional facilities is demanding, as personnel must maintain a constant state of heightened vigilance and adhere to strict security protocols. Corrections staff must also perform their duties within harsh physical environments and with the threat of repeated exposure to violent events.
Cell phones have been identified as one of the toughest issues faced by corrections officials. Smuggled in by guards or family members and activated with hard-to-trace prepaid calling plans, cell phones are a lifeline for criminals and gang members to order hits, buy drugs and plan escape attempts from behind bars.
An emerging threat to correctional officers stems from unmanned aerial aircraft systems (UAS). This threat is not simply theoretical or merely plausible, there have been multiple incidents reported where handguns, cellphones, drugs, tobacco, and other contraband have been deposited on prison grounds by UAS-operating conspirators on the outside. This threat will only increase as UAS become more popular.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5187, creating "National Correctional Officers' Week." Each year, the first full week in May is recognized as National Correctional Officers and Employees Week, commemorating the contributions of correctional officers and personnel who work in jails, prisons, and community corrections across the country.
Select a page from the Correctional Resources box for additional information and resources produced or sponsored by OJP and other federal sources.