There’s no way around it: Being a corrections officer is a tough job. These jobs are often overlooked as an option for someone pursuing a career in public safety and law enforcement because of the nature of their responsibilities.
Another thing there’s no way around: It takes a special kind of person to fill that role, and to fill it with integrity and honor day after day.
That’s why I’m taking a moment to express my gratitude for our Correctional Officers and Correctional Peace Officers at the St. Charles County Department of Corrections (SCCDOC). In my 26 years of experience serving as a judge, I have seen the important part they play in our justice system. Their dedication to that part is vital to our region and in ensuring justice is served with the attention and care, before and after those imprisoned see a courtroom.
The team we have at the Department of Corrections is committed to serving with excellence. Because of that, our officers are serving overtime and doing whatever they can to fill in the gaps caused by staffing shortages. SCCDOC Director Dan Keen tells me that right now, in February 2023, the SCCDOC is down a total of 44 officers, or about 37 percent. This is not a new challenge, and as those positions are left unfilled, the strain on our current team remains as they continue to face that challenge head on.
In addition to the staffing concerns, approximately 41 percent of the inmate population is on some type of psychotropic medication. Further, 68 percent of the inmate population suffer from a form of substance abuse. With our staffing needs, coupled with the increase in mental health and substance abuse concerns from the inmate population, our officers are wearing many hats to meet the needs of today’s incarcerated individuals.
The good news is the SCCDOC is dedicated to protecting the public and serving inmates to approach their mental health and substance abuse needs, and provide constructive and rehabilitative services to help reduce recidivism. Ongoing training and professional development, and recent updates to critical areas in the SCCDOC facility—such as booking and medical space—make that easier for our staff.
The job is never done, and we need more help. Are you the right fit? If you are, or if you know someone who might be, visit sccmo.org/Jobs to view available positions with the SCCDOC—from corrections officers to food service workers, nurses and office staff.
To our Corrections staff: You are appreciated and critical to the public safety of St. Charles County!