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Corrections department holds job fair in Concord, Manchester to recruit new officers, relieve strain

Guarding a prison isn’t exactly Adam Callahan’s first choice of professions. But a man needs a job, and at 31, married and unemployed since at least June, he’s feeling the pinch of life without a paycheck.

So on Thursday about 2 p.m., the New Jersey native and disabled military veteran showed up at the Howard Recreation Center in Concord, for Part Two of the state’s first corrections-only job fair in at least a decade.

The event, held in Manchester and Concord and sponsored by New Hampshire Employment Security, was meant to attract young men and women to a profession officials say has been hit hard in recent years. Officer staffing at the Concord state prison alone is nearly 100 below what it should be, according to officials. Officers are routinely required to put in three, sometimes four overtime shifts per week to fill the void.

Capt. Ron Gagliardi, a corrections officer for 18 years, said bringing in new officers is critical to help relieve a noticeably overstrained staff.

“They need to know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Jeff Lyons, a corrections spokesman, said the department has funding for about 40 vacant positions in Concord – mostly officers. There are about 65 additional unfunded positions at the prison. Commissioner William Wrenn said his goal is to fill the current funded vacancies before the next budget cycle, as a signal to legislators about the need to fund those added positions.

“I want to see us to the point where we’re right up against those unfunded positions,” he said.

But convincing people like Callahan, one of a few dozen prospects who trickled in Thursday, to seriously consider it isn’t always easy. Between safety concerns and stereotypes publicized by the media, he said, there is a generally negative perception of working in a prison.

“Looking at a corrections environment is not something a lot of people put at the top of their list,” Lyons said. “Once they learn what we really do, their opinion about that might change.”

For Callahan, the concern is less about perception and more about whether he wants to revisit the known hardships it entails. He’s not sold on the career, he said, but he knows the work – he helped staff a detention center in Iraq in 2008 and 2009 – and knows what it takes to do it well.

“I’ve done the training before, and I know the stuff they do with getting sprayed with pepper spray and stuff, and it really sucks,” he said after filling out an application. He added, “I have to decide if I’m willing to go through all of that stuff again.”

Officials are quick to note that much of the training to become a corrections officer overlaps with that required by police departments, and that corrections work can be a great stepping stone to that profession. But the industry has its own draws, as well, they said.

“Most people, when they think of law enforcement, they think of police,” said Wrenn. “What we’re trying to say is, ‘Hey, we’re law enforcement, too. Take a look at us.’ ”

Becoming a corrections officer can be a long process, however, and that might deter some from it. Applicants have to pass a series of physical fitness tests before they can enroll in a nine-week training academy, where they learn everything from firearm and defensive tactics to investigative skills.

The academy is offered just a few times each year; the next one begins in September. No one who filled out an application Thursday will be eligible to enroll in that, given the short turnaround, Lyons said.

Callahan, who is married and has a stepson, said he planned to continue looking for work elsewhere. “Because honestly,” he said, “this is not something that’s going to be for a while. August 28 is when they’re doing physical fitness tests, which is like a week and a half away. That’s still a long time to be without money.”

The department routinely attends job fairs, but Lyons said Thursday’s was the first corrections-only event held in years.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

Legacy Comments1

The word corrections in the plural is from the word correction defined of to learn of our deficiencies, as like to attend a course with #x-number of classes in the subject matter for which the individual is incarcerated for. "An officer is a person who has a position of authority in a hierarchical organization. " according to: as a " or penal officer (US) " to inflict a penalty. " is a person responsible for the supervision, safety, and security of prisoners in a prison, jail, or similar form of secure custody. Historically, terms such as jailer (also spelled jailor or gaoler), jail guard, prison guard, and turnkey[17] have also been used. " & " Corrections officers are responsible for the care, custody, and control *of individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial while on remand or who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in a prison or jail. They are also responsible for the safety and security of the facility itself. " * They key words down to the three letters of: CCC. Plus: " An officer must be a disciplinarian and enforce the RULES and punish when rules are violated. " Emphasis ADDed on the word rules as in within the structure of the Law being THE constitution and that of Article 18 to "reform" = of: in the verb = " to cause (a person) to abandon wrong or evil ways of life or conduct. " of thus to abandon / "Law. to cast away, leave, or desert, as property or a child." See also: "to give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in abandon property " and/or: " to withdraw protection, support, or help from he abandoned his family" and although this example be not for this in-state facility I use the example of citing: " [Art.] 12. [Protection and Taxation Reciprocal.] Every member of the community has a right to be protected by it, in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property; he is therefore bound to contribute his share in the expense of such protection, and to yield his personal service when necessary. But no part of a man’s property shall be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. Nor are the inhabitants of this state controllable by any other laws than those to which they, or their representative body, have given their consent. " Now tell me Federal C.O. reading this: re: the Ed Brown case: Since the Browns DID pay their property taxes up to 2007, where was the protection from "other laws"/ the U.S. Codes never "consent"ed to? The Federal Reps pass these Codes in Washington but that until accepted by consent of us they are not supposed to be operative in our state! Get it!? But back to state crimes and that of "recidivism is the main factor driving prison admissions" or in other words the facility's FAILURE to correct, but that of like what the agents of Uncle Sam do too is just to warehouse people like a mushroom in a dungeon although they do get to go outside to get some vitamin D from the sunshine occasionally. Thus what I see here is a Warden looking for numbers in quantity rather than to balance it with a quality program with teachers! Thus I ask: WHERE are the teachers? Potential C.O.'s ought to have the Warden put into a written contract BEFORE they sign on that he will provide a balance of quality "correction" MORE than what is there now of they do not want to be just a guard to like bunch of caged animals! This is not a zoo!

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