What Counseling Jobs Are Available in a Prison?

Prison CounselorIf you’re interested in using your mental health training to work with inmates, then there are counseling jobs available in a prison that could fit your career goals. Prison counseling positions are offered to people who monitor the activities and progress of criminal offenders to determine whether they’re eligible for reintegration into society. These jobs aren’t for the fainthearted, because dealing with criminals who are potentially dangerous and unrepentant for their illegal actions is common. However, prison counselors play a prominent role in helping inmates receive education, counseling, and job training for reaching rehabilitation. Below are some of the popular prison counseling jobs that will allow you make a positive difference in the lives of inmates and prevent them from returning into the correctional system, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Correctional Counselor

Also referred to as correctional treatment specialists or case managers, correctional counselors are focused on developing rehabilitation plans for offenders to follow once they are released from prison or on parole. Correctional counselors often evaluate inmates through questionnaires, interviews, and psychological testing to determine their mental state. They will also write detailed case reports covering the offender’s history and the likelihood that he or she will commit another crime to inform the prison’s parole board. If the offender is in need of substance abuse or mental health counseling, the counselor will provide it and maintain written accounts of their progress. At times, correctional counselors will also set up mental health services for the inmate’s family to assist in the rehabilitation plan.

Parole Officer

Parole officers are tasked with maintaining public safety by supervising prisoners who have received a provisional release before their maximum sentence period. Although parole officers typically spend most of their time outside the prison gates, many will meet with the offenders prior to their release to establish set guidelines. Parole officers will monitor offenders, provide them with job training resources, change their negative behaviors, and reduce the risk of them returning to prison. Parole officers must maintain regularly scheduled contact with offenders and their families through telephone calls and office visits. Most parole officers will oversee drug testing and electronic monitoring to ensure the provisions of release aren’t violated. Parole officers can work with adult offenders or juveniles released from youth detention centers.

Pretrial Services Officer

For counselors looking to delve deeper into the legal system, mental health training can also be beneficial for those becoming pretrial services officers. Pretrial officers typically evaluate an offender, investigate their criminal background, and make the decision of whether the individual can safely be allowed back into the community on bail before a trial. Pretrial services officers will provide their recommendations directly to a judge assigned to set a bond amount or determine the proper prison sentence. If offenders are released on bail, pretrial officers are also given the responsibility of supervising them to guarantee they stay within the limits of their release and make an appropriate court appearance on the trial date.

Related Resource: What a Clinical Psychologist Does

According to Prison Jobs, before working in a prison, you’ll likely need to receive at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in counseling, social work, criminal justice, or a related behavioral sciences field. Most counselors must pass extensive job training programs for up to a year before passing a certification test and landing a permanent position. Then, you’ll have the mental health knowledge and the communication skills needed to unlock counseling jobs available in a prison.