How Many Hours Do Correctional Officers Work?

Correctional officers play a vital role in the criminal justice system, maintaining order and ensuring the safety and security of correctional facilities. As the backbone of correctional facilities, correctional officers work diligently to supervise and manage incarcerated individuals. Given the demanding nature of their job, it’s important to understand the hours they typically work and the challenges they face. This blog post will explore typical correctional officer work hours, what correctional officers do, and the impact of their demanding profession.

How many hours do correctional officers work?

Correctional officers often work in shifts, ensuring continuous coverage across correctional facilities. These shifts are typically organized into three main categories: day shift, evening shift and night shift. The duration of each shift varies depending on the facility, the agency, the state and the specific needs of the institution. Generally speaking, correctional officers’ work hours are meant to stay within eight-hour shifts, but longer shifts, such as 10 or 12 hours, are not uncommon, particularly if there are staffing shortages across the facility. Before overtime hours, correctional officers usually work 40 hours per week.

What do correctional officers do on a daily basis?

The nature of correctional work requires 24/7 coverage, which means correctional officers may work irregular hours, including weekends and holidays. Correctional facilities need to have a constant presence of officers to maintain order and respond to emergencies at any given time. Because of this, correctional officers often work on a rotating schedule that includes both day and night shifts.

A correctional officer schedule can vary depending on the facility and the state. Some facilities may use fixed schedules, where officers work the same shift for an extended period, such as a week or a month, before rotating to a different shift. Other facilities may utilize rotating correctional officer schedules, where officers alternate between day, evening and night shifts on a more frequent basis, such as every few days or every week.

How many overtime hours do correctional officers work?

Correctional officers often face the need to work overtime due to staffing shortages, emergencies, or unexpected situations within the facility. Overtime can extend their regular shift hours and may involve working additional days beyond their scheduled workweek. This can put a strain on the officers, both physically and mentally, as they may have less time for rest and recovery between shifts.

Factors that influence a correctional officer’s hours

Several factors influence the work hours of correctional officers, including the size and population of the facility, the security level of the institution, and the staffing levels. Larger correctional facilities with a higher population of inmates often require more officers on duty at all times, leading to more extended shifts or increased overtime.

Moreover, maximum-security prisons typically demand stricter security measures, resulting in longer correctional officer hours. These facilities require heightened vigilance, increased patrolling, and close supervision of inmates, leading to more demanding and exhausting work hours. It’s important for maximum-security institutions to be staffed by experienced officers who are savvy in all units and positions of the facility. Because of this, many officers stationed at maximum-security prisons may work long shift hours if faced with a staffing shortage.

The impact of a demanding correctional officer’s schedule

Working as a correctional officer can be physically and mentally demanding, especially when faced with long and irregular work hours. The irregular schedules and rotating shifts can disrupt the officers’ sleep patterns, making it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The constant exposure to stress, potential danger, and the demanding nature of the job can lead to burnout and affect the overall well-being of correctional officers.

To mitigate the impact of these demanding work hours, some correctional institutions provide employee assistance programs, counseling services, and opportunities for mental health support. It’s crucial to prioritize the well-being of correctional officers, as their ability to perform their duties effectively relies on their physical and mental health. As individuals, there are strategies correctional officers can take to maintain a work-life balance. To learn more about these strategies, read this blog post.

The Bottom Line

Correctional officers are the unsung heroes of the criminal justice system, working tirelessly to maintain order and ensure the safety of correctional facilities. The hours they work can be challenging and irregular, often involving rotating shifts and the need for overtime. These demanding work hours can eventually take a toll on their well-being. 

While corrections software can’t solve staffing problems at correctional facilities, it can make your workforce go further through smart scheduling decisions, improved communication and simplified overtime management. Learn more about InTime’s scheduling solutions for corrections agencies and juvenile probation. 

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