Monday, May 2, 2016
National Correctional Officers and Employees Week
On this first day of a week of recognition for the value and service of the unsung heroes within our correctional ranks, there are many things we should pause to remember about these remarkable men and women. First, correctional officers across our state and this great nation serve our public safety every day by separating violent offenders from the community, deterring others from offending, and doing your very best to prepare offenders for reintegration into the community upon release. And while each component of their mission is essential to the integrity and dignity of our communities, so often their work is not fully understood and valued in ways the other, more visible elements of our criminal justice system are. Secondly, based on the constitutional reality that most offenders sentenced to prison will return to our neighborhoods, what the remarkable men and women of corrections do matters significantly to us each! What happens behind the concrete walls of our prisons or within the homes of offenders supervised under conditions of parole and/or probation matters to our neighborhoods, just as what happens in our neighborhoods matters for our prisons, jails, and community supervision programs. Finally, their calling, work, and challenges are often far more demanding and dangerous than many others. The offices and workspaces correctional officers occupy are some of the most harsh physical environments a person could voluntarily enter. Their work environments offer a constant threat of exposure to chaos and violence. And upon entering these exceptionally negative and potentially dangerous environments each day on our behalf, correctional officers not only must remain committed to a constant state of heightened vigilance and adherence to strict security protocols, but to remain truly effective, they must also remain willing to invest themselves into to others that the rest of the world has the luxury of throwing away.
This is probably why in 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5187, creating “National Correctional Officers’ Week.” Since that moment, the first full week in May has been recognized as National Correctional Officers and Employees Week, commemorating the contributions of correctional officers and personnel who work in jails, prisons, and community corrections across the country. The platform created on that historic day now provides us each with an opportunity to pay tribute to the remarkable souls (both past and present) who serve us quietly and often without the recognition they deserve. So as you navigate through the demands of your days this week, I respectfully request that you pause to reflect upon how important the men and women of corrections are to our state and country. Like so many others within our military and law enforcement ranks, without their service, within the span of a single generation, our way of life would cease to exist as we know it. Should you have the chance to cross the path of one of our unsung heroes, I pray that you’ll take a moment to thank them for the exceptional few they are! From the bottom of the hearts of many, happy National Correctional Officers’ Week!