About 180 correctional facilities (JVA), as prisons are officially called, currently exist in Germany. Here sit about 50.000 prisoners serve a custodial sentence. But of course they are not the only people inside a prison: for a correctional facility to function, it needs well-trained personnel. However, little is known about their daily work.
What professions are there in prison at all? What salaries can be expected in the penitentiary system? And what about prisoners? Are they allowed to work?? We will deal with these and other questions in this article.
They hold the key: the work of correctional officers
Warden, guard or sometimes even closer – there are many names for the most important job in a prison. These designations are misleading, however, because the work of correctional officers goes far beyond simply watching over inmates.
Officers in the intermediate prison service are, of course, also responsible for the secure execution of sentences: In the course of this, they inspect prisoners and their cells and, if necessary, can also carry out a physical search; after all, weapons, drugs and alcohol are taboo. Other standard duties include providing food and clothing. However, these activities – called General Correctional Service (AVD) – make up only part of the duties. In the so-called work service, correctional officers manage a work facility in which inmates can perform regular work. Many also take advantage of their time in prison to pursue vocational training or further education. A correctional officer is then also in demand pedagogically, assigns tasks as well as equipment and evaluates the work performed. In addition, there is the administrative service, where personnel files are maintained, and the medical service, where correctional officers help doctors and nurses care for the sick.
Those interested in this profession must complete a two-year dual training program. Prospective trainees should have an intermediate school leaving certificate or a secondary school leaving certificate in conjunction with a completed vocational training program. The exact requirements vary from state to state, with some stipulating a minimum age of 20 or 21, for example; Brandenburg, for example, also requires a minimum height of 1.60 m. Much more important, however, is the suitability of character: for this purpose, strict selection procedures are carried out. In order to be admitted to the work service, many correctional officers continue their education later on, for example by taking a master craftsman's or technician's exam.
In addition, there are civil servants in the higher correctional service. They increasingly take on administrative tasks, z. B. the preparation of duty rosters or the review of the economic efficiency of the plant operations, and can even rise to the position of prison director at some point – so the main place of work is an office. Nevertheless, they also have direct contact with prisoners, but unlike their colleagues in the intermediate service, they do not have to wear a uniform. To qualify for this profession, you should have at least the entrance qualification for universities of applied sciences or a comparable degree. Here, too, there are corresponding selection procedures; those who survive these then begin the so-called preparatory service, which imparts the necessary knowledge for a civil service career in the higher correctional service. This is organized as a three-year diploma program.
How much do correctional officers earn??
Correctional officers are public service employees. Thus, their remuneration is based on the Federal Salary Act (BBesG). Here, the total salary also depends on the work experience, namely, officials in the penitentiary system are in grade A, which is divided into eight different levels. Which of these grades is paid depends on how long a state employee has been active in the profession. The exact income also differs depending on the federal state.
Intermediate correctional officers are graded A6, A7, A8 or A9, depending on their rank – so the gross monthly salary ranges from approx. 2.420 and 3.750 Euro.
Correctional officers in the higher service are in grades A9 to A13. Accordingly, their gross salary is between ca. 2.900 and 5.730 euros.
Overall, the job as a correctional officer offers good opportunities for advancement as well as comparatively above-average pay – this can also be an added incentive for many. Further salary data can be found here.
Average gross salary for 40 hours per week
Doctors, educators and social workers: these are the other professions in the prison system
The microcosm of a correctional facility includes many other occupational groups; after all, inmates sometimes need medical assistance or take part in resocialization programs. These are some of the other jobs in a correctional facility:
- doctor / physician
- Health care and nursing staff
- Cook / cook
- Pastoral counselor
- Social worker
- Social pedagogue
- Administrative employee
- Administrative specialist
Doctors, nurses, educators, psychologists and social workers as well as administrative staff are the most common professions within a prison, excluding correctional officers. Teachers are needed primarily in juvenile detention centers.
Here too, employees of the prison system are civil servants, so their income is based on the collective wage agreements of the public sector. Which profession is assigned to which pay grade is not uniformly regulated. Typically, however, social workers and administrators receive a salary between grade A9 and A13 (= approx. 2.900 to 5.730 euros). Pedagogues, psychologists, doctors, pastors and lawyers, on the other hand, are usually in grades A13, A14 or A15 (= ca. 4.460 to 7.040 euros), sometimes in grade E13 or E14 (= ca. 4.000 to 6.360 Euro).
Average gross salary for 40 hours per week
Daily life in prison: Is working in a correctional facility dangerous??
Brutal criminals, violent prison officers and a climate of fear: If you were to believe series like Prison Break, working in prison would hardly be desirable. As is so often the case, however, these clichés do not match reality. In fact, the majority of prisoners are not behind bars for violent offenses, and only fewer than 2.500 people serving life sentences in Germany. On the other hand, the sentence for almost 90 percent of all inmates is a maximum of five years, and for almost half it is one year or less.
However, this does not mean that the job in a prison is easy: the ability to work under pressure and to assert oneself are necessary qualities. Empathy is even more important, however, because a correctional facility not only serves to deprive people of their liberty, but also aims to ensure successful rehabilitation. This is a constant balancing act for all prison staff: on the one hand, they have to fulfill their security mandate and ensure that inmates are supervised at all times to completely rule out any danger to the general public. On the other hand, they also have an integration mandate and must prepare inmates for life after prison.
For this reason, it is essential that prison employees treat all inmates with the appropriate respect. Only with the right mix of self-confidence, nerves of steel and tact can the penal system function properly. It is no coincidence that many of the correctional officers are lateral entrants; the average age at the start of training is over 25: Life experience and work experience in other fields can often be helpful, as there are great mental resources to bring to the job. Therefore, it is also advisable to maintain a healthy distance from the inmates in spite of everything, so that you do not take the work home with you. Possible weekend and night work increases the stress, as the daily duty roster in a prison is divided into three shifts. There are always employees on site, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Prison employees, on the other hand, rarely experience physical violence; horror scenarios such as hostage-taking or inmate uprisings are absolutely isolated incidents. Nevertheless, all correctional officers are trained in self-defense; safety first, after all. In addition, there are special task forces equipped with batons, irritant gas or firearms to z. B. assist in the transportation of dangerous prisoners. For prison employees, however, there is no danger inside a prison in almost all cases, and it may even be safer than outside it.
The prison is much more like a special social institution – and this is precisely what motivates most of the employees. Therapeutic, educational and social assistance can ideally give a prisoner a second life after the end of his or her imprisonment. Of course, it is still not a normal job, since every prisoner, whether a bicycle thief or a murderer, has his or her own biography. So variety is guaranteed.
Inmates also work
Correctional officers, doctors or social pedagogues are not the only people who have an occupation in a prison. What many people don't know: Work is compulsory for almost all prisoners. It creates a constant daily routine and teaches job-relevant skills as well as abilities. Thus, it makes a decisive contribution to later resocialization. At the same time, it brings variety and a sense of purpose to the often monotonous prison life.
prisoners work in workshops – these are usually of a manual nature. Examples of work activities in a work yard are, for example:
In addition to traditional training programs, prisons also offer occupational therapy measures. Many inmates also work on behalf of companies and take over individual manufacturing steps, e.g., production, assembly, etc. B. assembling equipment or sorting and packing finished products. Hundreds of companies are involved; in total, prisoners generate a turnover of many millions of euros each year in this way.
Although they regularly work up to 40 hours per week, their salary is well below the minimum wage. The penitentiary law sets a remuneration of nine percent of the average income of all those insured by the statutory pension insurance scheme. Depending on the difficulty of the work, there are then five levels of remuneration. In addition, smaller bonuses are possible. In the end, however, the prisoners only earn a meager hourly wage of between one and two euros. Prisoners receive three-sevenths of this amount directly for personal use, and the rest at the end of their sentence.
Nearly one-sixth of all prison inmates are in open custody. This means that they can leave the correctional facility during the day and pursue a regular occupation. A higher income can be earned here, but prisoners are usually charged a monthly contribution to prison costs of several hundred euros.
The extent to which inmates should be paid better has been the subject of controversial debate for many years. Advocates of the current model point out that prison inmates are not regular employees, but are in a special legal relationship. In addition, inmates (unless they contribute to the cost of imprisonment) would not have to pay for housing, food, and medical care: After all, each inmate costs the state more than 100 euros per day.
Critics again complain that the low remuneration is detrimental to the ultimate purpose of resocialization. Many inmates first have to work off a mountain of debt anyway, which has arisen as a result of legal costs or claims for damages. In addition, prisoners may perform valuable work, but they are still not allowed to pay into the pension fund – this weighs heavily, especially in the case of long prison sentences. As a result, many inmates leave prison in great poverty, which makes reintegration into society more difficult.
Since 2014, there is the prisoners' union/federal organization (GG/BO), which advocates for the rights of prisoners. One of their goals is to be paid the legal minimum wage and receive full social security benefits. Your argument:The penalty is deprivation of liberty. Work, on the other hand, should be unaffected by this, they say.