How to Become a Correctional Officer in Mississippi

As of 2019, Mississippi has 89 jails located within 82 counties. The jail population that year was 14,340. In addition, the state houses 19,417 inmates within three state prisons, as well as private prisons and local jails. Thirty-six inmates are located on the Mississippi Department of Correction’s (MDOC) death row at Mississippi State Penitentiary, as of October 2022. (Statistics provided by National Institute of Corrections). 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons also operates a federal correctional complex located in Yazoo City, Mississippi, consisting of:

  • FCI Yazoo City Low, housing 1426 male offenders in a low-security facility
  • FCI Yazoo City Medium, housing 1304 male offenders in a medium-security facility
  • USP Yazoo City, housing 1637 male offenders in a high security U.S. penitentiary

Correctional facilities within the state of Mississippi employ 2000 people, per NIC. 

In 2022, the MDOC announced a new work release program for inmates, after the previous program ended in 2015. The Transitional Work Center is attached to the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. This program matches eligible inmates with paid jobs outside of the prison, with the goal of giving them a leg up on re-entry into society upon release. Those in the Work Release program wear “free world clothes” to their jobs and are paid wages. From 75 to 100 inmates are expected to qualify for this program, depending upon parole eligibility dates. State law only allows 25 inmates to participate in the program at one time. 

Currently, researchers from Pepperdine University and Baylor University are studying Mississippi’s state prisons, inmates and programs in a two-year study, aiming to see how Commissioner Burl Cain’s changes to Mississippi’s prisons have impacted inmates and prison environment. 

With such a large prison population, many correctional officers are needed to oversee and control the inmates within these facilities. Becoming a correctional officer in Mississippi can seem like a daunting task, with the many facilities needing staffing and the challenges of dealing with a diverse population of inmates. It can be a very rewarding endeavor, however, for those with the drive and motivation to succeed.  

WHAT DOES A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DO

MDOC’s correctional officers carry the weighty responsibility of maintaining order and discipline among inmates. The entry-level correction officer position within MDOC, Correctional Officer I, entails various duties. These include keeping watch in a watchtower or at a gate, inspecting all incoming and outgoing vehicles; escorting offenders to and from various places within the prison facility; assisting in supervising offenders; operating electronically-controlled or manually-controlled security equipment; enforcing regulations of personal care and sanitation; making rounds inside and outside of all prison facilities and maintaining inmate counts at all times, and advising supervisors of personal concerns. 

Correctional officers in Mississippi must be able to follow the MDOC’s rules, regulations and procedures, ensuring the facility’s safety, security and order. They must always mindful and keenly aware of their surroundings, not only for their own personal safety and that of inmates, but also to protect the safety of other employees working within the prison facility.

BECOMING A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER IN MISSISSIPPI

Prospective correctional officers in Mississippi must meet the following qualifications in order to be eligible for entry-level positions:

  • Have attained at least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have a valid social security card
  • Have completed education at least to the eighth grade of the high school curriculum
  • Have between zero and two years of experience working within a secure facility
  • Have no felony or domestic violence convictions on record (some misdemeanors will also disqualify you from becoming a correctional officer in Mississippi)

Those who are hired under the age of 21 will be assigned to posts designated as non-peace officer status posts. 

The MDOC requests that all who are interested in applying for a correctional officer position apply online at the Mississippi State Personnel Board’s website. As of November 2022, the MDOC is actively recruiting correctional officers and will meet with those who are interested for an interview, even on a walk-in basis. Interviews are being held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs, Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, South Mississippi Correctional Facility in Leakesville, and Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in Walnut Grove. If you have questions about interviews or correctional officer jobs, contact MDOC’s job line at (866) 783-9359 or email mdocrecruitment@mdoc.state.ms.us

Those who are being considered for correctional officer positions in Mississippi must undergo drug testing and a physical examination, as well as a criminal background check.

Mississippi Education and Certification Requirements for Correctional Officers

MISSISSIPPI EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS

The MDOC requires new corrections officers to take 240 hours of new employee training. This is held at all MDOC facilities. Peace officer training will be given to all employees who are 21 and over (those under the age of 18 will be assigned to posts which have been deemed non-peace officer status). The MDOC Training Academy consists of eight weeks of instruction in areas including the following:

  • Orientation
  • History of the MDOC
  • Administrative report writing
  • Security procedures involved in custody of inmates
  • Hostage negotiation
  • Self-defense
  • Firearms training

In addition to the eight weeks of training listed above, new correctional officers will also receive one week of supervised on-the-job training within their assigned MDOC facility.

Once hired, correctional officers in Mississippi must complete 16 hours of general in-service training plus 40 hours of specific inmate contract training each year they are employed.

OPTIONAL PATH TO CERTIFICATION

The MDOC will consider reciprocity for applicants for correctional officer positions who have been certified as peace officers or correctional officers in other states, on an equivalent basis.

CRIMINAL JUSTICES DEGREES

The MDOC does not mandate that candidates for its entry-level Correctional Officer I positions have a college degree.

MISSISSIPPI CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SALARY

According to the Mississippi State Personnel Board, the starting salary for a Correctional Officer I position is $36,720.05 per year. The MDOC adds that correctional officers are compensated for overtime in addition to salary pay and benefits.

The benefits to which correctional officers in Mississippi are entitled include:

  • State Retirement Plan (PERS)/Deferred Compensation
  • Medical, prescription, dental and vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Wellness and health promotion program
  • Vacation and sick leave begin to accrue after one month of employment and may be used as accrued. Employees earn 18 days of personal leave and 12 days of sick leave per year
  • Military leave (up to 15 days per year for military training for all employees serving in the Armed Forces or military reserves)
  • 10 paid holidays
  • Flexible spending account
  • State credit union
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Career development and training
  • Promotional opportunities

MISSISSIPPI CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JOBS

Correctional officer jobs are posted on the Mississippi State Personnel Board’s website as they become available, where applications are also accepted. Questions concerning correctional officer positions in Mississippi should be directed to MDOC’s job line at (866) 783-9359 or email mdocrecruitment@mdoc.state.ms.us

TOP EMPLOYERS FOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS IN MISSISSIPPI

The Mississippi Department of Corrections is the employer for state correctional officer jobs. The Federal Bureau of Prisons also employs correctional officers at the Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City. Jobs within this complex are posted on usajobs.gov as they become available.