Innovative thinking key to jail operation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 11, 2008

&8220;In prison, those things withheld from and denied to the prisoner become precisely what he wants most of all.&8221;

Eldridge Cleaver

The thought of it is certainly more than enough to keep many of us walking the straight and narrow: locked in a cell, Martha Stewart is on the television and the Shelby County corrections officer with the remote control isn&8217;t about to change the channel.

No, the officer&8217;s reluctance isn&8217;t driven off wanting to roast the perfect ham for Easter or knit a lovely sweater for his or her niece.

This decision is made to modify inmate behavior and would undoubtedly be the logical consequence for unacceptable behavior.

Using positive motivators, such as the freedom to choose a sporting event over a Martha Stewart episode, is one of the many innovative practices in place at Shelby County&8217;s jail.

With some 425 inmates inside Shelby County&8217;s jail on any given day, it is easy to understand why innovative approaches have been brought into the operation of the facility.

Some inmates with good behavior are also allowed to work in the kitchen, laundry room, vegetable garden and in other jobs. Those privileges result in gained efficiency within the jail, and also better inmate behavior.

Approaches such as these help to make certain the jail runs as it should, that inmates are kept safe and, most importantly, those inmates are kept inside.

But regardless of the number of clever ideas that can be found for making a jail run more smoothly, it can&8217;t operate without corrections officers working in central control, booking and observation posts.

And to that end, the sheriff&8217;s office is currently looking for new officers to help run the ever-growing jail.

To be a corrections officer, a person must be at least 19 and have a high school diploma or GED. He or she must also pass a rigorous screening process that includes a physical fitness test, interviews, a drug test, a background check and more.

Corrections officer earnings begin with an annual salary of about $34,500.

The next corrections officer exam will be given Saturday, May 3 in Chelsea High School&8217;s lunchroom.

If you are looking for a new career opportunity, this might just be it.

For more info, visit