CJ Careers: Corrections Sergeant

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    • 00:04

      RAY BYNUM: My name's Ray Bynum.I'm a Professor at University of Phoenix and Universityof the Rockies.I teach associate through doctoral classes.I worked in corrections for 30 years before retiring.[Career Story]When I was young, I wanted to actually goto work for NASA until they shut down the shuttle program

    • 00:26

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: and laid off 10,000 people.So I winded up going into criminal justiceas a military police officer for a few years.I went to visit family in Missouriand I went to the Sheriff's department.And they wanted to know if I'd work at the jail.I'd never thought about it.I said, sure.So I got hired at 3 o'clock in the afternoonand started the next day.

    • 00:48

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: I worked at the jail for a while, workedat different parts of the Sheriff's Department,and then I went to visit a friend in Arizona.And I applied at the Sheriff's Department there in Tucson.I got hired six months later and worked therefor 28 years, and 26 as a Sergeant.Well one of the first things I noticed right off the bat--there was no training for the officers.

    • 01:09

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: There was no such thing.I got hired at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and said to show up.What policies?There's no policies.Here's a set of keys.Don't let anybody out.When I went to Arizona, it was a little bit better.I found out there's a basic academy,but there was no training beyond that.

    • 01:30

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: So I got involved in the training part of thisand had developed classes.And then we ran into a problem because the law enforcementside were basically saying, this is only for us.I said, wait, we deal with the same problems.We need to deal with this also.So we ran into a political issue of,well, it's only law enforcement.

    • 01:51

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: You have crime scenes in both areas,you have criminal investigations in both areas,and both sides need to know this stuff.So a lot of times you find you deal with politics.[Challenges and Misconceptions]Well, first off, most people don't evenrealize what corrections is.You have inmates, and they don't even think of the officers.

    • 02:16

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: One of the biggest misconceptionsis that people actually like working in corrections.It's a challenge.It's not an easy job.Most people actually like working there.And the other thing that's kind of interestingis when you tell them that there's actuallypeople who work that have Associates, Bachelors,and Master's degrees.Why would somebody with a degree actually work there?It's a challenge, they like doing it,

    • 02:37

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: and they usually get paid pretty good [INAUDIBLE].And I had a doctorate eventually,and I worked there for another four years before I retired.So there's actually some very well-educated peoplewho actually work there.And we don't mind working with inmates.[Daily Operations]

    • 02:58

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: Well, where I was at, we wound up having different units.When I first started, we had 300 inmates and 66 officers.And by the time I got done, we had five different buildings,2,000 inmates, and over 400 officers.And the officers worked different units.They went anything from general population to maximum security.

    • 03:19

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: We had a mental health unit that actually covered three areas.We dealt with juveniles that were adjudicated as adults.We had female inmates.We had a drug rehab unit.We had work release.So a typical day is you come in, you get briefed,you go to the housing unit, and youget to sit there and deal with inmates all day.

    • 03:44

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: And the new type of facilities is called direct supervision.The officers are actually in the area with the inmates.And you have to interact with them.Your role is basically that of the town Marshal.We're just there to keep the peace.So that's pretty much what you do.You enforce the laws.You do investigations.If there are crime scenes, you have to deal with crime scenes.

    • 04:06

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: You're there to protect the weaker inmatesfrom the stronger inmates.And you get involved in a lot of different thingsthat people don't even know we do.[Diversity]When I first started, we actually had a lot of diversity

    • 04:26

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: already.In the jail I worked in Tucson, 52% of the staff were females.And Tucson is predominately a Hispanic community.So a large portion of the correction staffwere Hispanics.But in Tucson, especially at the University of Arizona,it's a very international community.

    • 04:49

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: So because of this, we had peoplefrom different countries.You have people from Russia, from England, from Israel.So when you talk about diversity,you also had to hire officers thatreflected those communities because theyhave different traditions, different customs.And if you don't understand some of this,they can cause a lot of problems.

    • 05:11

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: So we had to have people, not only just the local community,but basically international to deal with all this.And [INAUDIBLE] to help out, because wehad officers who were fluent in different languages.They arrest people from Russian mafia,and it's helped to have somebody who could actuallyspeak Russian or Hebrew.

    • 05:31

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: And this makes communications a lot easier and a lot easierto deal with.[Technology]Well, technology has changed a lot of it.It used to be you didn't really needa high degree of education.But the technology has expanded greatly.

    • 05:51

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: You've got motion detectors, you have iris scans,you have detectors to check cellphonesthat's maybe in the facility.So because of this, you have to havea lot of people who understand the technology, which getsinto the younger generation.Plus, it's kind of nice to get the older generation

    • 06:12

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: kind of out of there in a way, because while a lot of ithas changed since the 1960s, there'sstill stuff that needed to be changed, more people to run itbecause the newer people are actuallymore open to different changes in the society.And so, yeah, it's kind of good to do that.[Advice for Students]

    • 06:35

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: I actually teach introduction to corrections.And I also teach it at a higher levelof teaching, a master's level.And it's basically the same.Most people really do not understand corrections.I have some corrections officers thatactually come take the classes.Most people really do not know what's going on.So you have to deal with a lot of misconceptions

    • 06:56

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: right off the bat.But it's interesting.One of the first things I posed--it was after all the riots in the 1960s,the President had a commission thatstudied the entire criminal justice system.One of the biggest recommendationswas that all police officers haveat least a four-year degree.The idea was the higher education you have,

    • 07:18

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: the less chance you had a prejudiced biasand excessive force.So about a year later, they did a study in Minnesota.And they were trying to implement the recommendationsfor the '67 study.And they did a survey with police chiefs.And they asked them, what college degree

    • 07:40

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: do you want your officers to haveto work for these departments?They said, we really don't care, because that's notwhat we want.What we want is the skills that they developwhile going in these courses.We want stress management, time management,how to write a report, how to do a presentation,how to present yourself with other people, writing skills,

    • 08:02

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: listening skills.It's the skills that you develop that we actuallylike to come out of this.In introduction to correction courses,I spent the first two weeks just dealing with misconceptions.But once we get into the rest of this,this is more of what's going on.And to understand corrections, youhave to get to the philosophy behind this and the changesin philosophies.

    • 08:24

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: So this is the skills.We want you to come in and when you do this,you need to have an open mind of what'sreally going on because a lot of it's changed over the years.[Future Directions]I'm hoping it's going to get better.You've got changes in the law, youhave different court cases that comes up.

    • 08:44

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: Some stuff they have tried didn't really work that well.My example is the three-strikes law.It's a very good law, it helps out.But at the same time, it's been misapplied.So we do a lot of experimenting.We're getting better at it.There was a change in philosophy,probably about 20 years ago, where now it's

    • 09:05

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: an emphasis on rehabilitation.You basically promote good behaviorand you deal with bad behavior.So it's still hard for some peopleto accept the fact we're trying to rehabilitate.You just can't throw people in there.You have to change it.So I'm hoping with the next 10 yearsto get better at that-- develop our courses.

    • 09:26

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: And if you don't deal with them now,you're going to have to deal with them on the streets,and I'd rather that they didn't have to come back.So it would save us a lot of stuff.Hopefully, it will get better as we go.[Education in Prison for Rehabiliation]Most studies have shown that thereis a link between education and violence.

    • 09:49

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: The more education is present, the less violence there is.If you're just putting a person in prisonand you put him out on the streetswith no help, no skills, you're not helping the situation out.You're just putting all of them backinto the situation that got them there in the first place.So you have to change their behaviors and their ideasand beliefs.And you do that through the education.

    • 10:12

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: You have to teach them new skills.You have to give new thought patterns and new pathsto go down.If you don't do that, they're just going to go backand re-do this.So education is vital to how we do this.And there's a popular slogan around that basicallysays if you think the cost of education is too high,consider the cost of ignorance.

    • 10:33

      RAY BYNUM [continued]: Because there is no reason for all these people beingin prison.It's just because they didn't havethe skills and everything else to get by,so they're trying to survive.So they go out and commit a crime.

CJ Careers: Corrections Sergeant

View Segments Segment :


Professor Ray Bynum discusses his career in corrections and criminal justice education. Corrections officers once had very little training, but the system has been reformed. Bynum discusses his career history, what a day as a corrections officer looks like, and diversity in the field.

CJ Careers: Corrections Sergeant

Professor Ray Bynum discusses his career in corrections and criminal justice education. Corrections officers once had very little training, but the system has been reformed. Bynum discusses his career history, what a day as a corrections officer looks like, and diversity in the field.

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