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Prison Officer Training: The Link With Prison Reform

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 51 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2000 Pages: 282-284
Sean O'Toole
Date Published
September 2000
3 pages
Although much of the literature suggests that long-term, high-level prison officer training and development is of little tangible benefit to the correctional organization, this article shows that the experience in New South Wales (Australia) is the opposite.
An historical overview of prison officer education and training in the New South Wales prison system, Australia's oldest and largest prison system, reveals a distinct parallel between the eras in which officer training was a high profile priority and the subsequent advances and reforms that occurred in the prisons in those eras. William Neitenstein, who was Comptroller-General of Prisons from 1895 to 1913, is credited with the overall modernization of the New South Wales prison system. His reforms to prison officer training began with the introduction of entrance examinations and a continuing emphasis on military style discipline. He also established libraries for officers at each prison and encouraged them to read widely on subjects that were not confined to penology and criminology. These measures saw a dramatic increase in morale, opened a myriad of promotional opportunities for those officers identified as most capable, and established the foundation for widespread improvements in rehabilitation and management of prisoners. More recent reforms in the prison system have led to case management of inmates; improved security measures; a transitional center for female inmates about to be released; innovative programs for young offenders, sex offenders, and violent offenders; and widespread inmate access to rehabilitative measures for drug treatment and HIV. Continuous and effective training and career development for prison officers are the foundation of a flexible, adaptable system that can respond effectively to these innovations. 10 references