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Basic Corrections

Students doing physical training exercises

Students doing physical training exercises

In 1978, the Maine Legislature passed laws mandating the Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy to establish standards for training for Corrections Officers. The purpose of this mandate was to ensure that no person could serve as a Corrections Officer without meeting minimal training standards. The mandate called for a basic course and regular in-service training.

To carry out this mandate, a questionnaire covering all possible Corrections activities was distributed to all personnel of the State and County Corrections facilities. Line personnel reviewed each item and indicated how frequently, if at all, they performed each task. Supervisors rated each task in terms of its importance and when it should be learned.

The responses were computerized and the results analyzed to reveal tasks that are common to all Corrections Officers. That list of tasks was then used to develop learning objectives for basic training. Academy staff and numerous volunteers wrote narratives to accompany the objectives. The Narratives were to be used by instructors to become familiar with the reasoning behind the objectives.

After looking at the objectives , it was obvious that some topics needed to be taught before a new employee set foot inside a facility and other topics could wait. The curriculum was then divided into A, B, C, and D levels. The "A" level was to be presented before a new employee would interact with inmates. The "B" level would be taught after the new officer had enough experience to understand the issues raised in the training. "C" level would be even later and would cover advanced and professional topics and issues. "D" level would be refresher and new issues.

"A" and "B" are taught at each facility and "C" is done at the Academy except under rare circumstances. When the training staff at an agency feels that a new officer is ready Academy staff administer a test. A passing grade on that test allows entrance to the "C" course at the Academy. The "C" program is eighty hours in a two week period, with two written tests, which are averaged for successful completion. The "C" program must be completed within one year of the hiring date for new officers.

Each year a Corrections Advisory Committee recommends to the Academy Trustees a number of topics to be presented as mandatory in-service. Those topics usually are comprised of two or three specific subjects and two or three subjects which the individual agency determines through the use of a needs assessment. To remain certified, an officer must attend all the mandatory in-service training.