#WeApplaud – Let’s not forget our brave Correctional Officers

A campaign is underway across the global corrections community to highlight the work of prison and correctional staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Messages of support are being sent to jurisdictions across the world in an effort to boost the morale of those who work within our prison and probation systems and to give recognition for their dedication, commitment and professionalism as this crisis starts to penetrate into all aspects of society.

Reports are coming in on a regular basis that the Covid-19 virus has entered prisons in countries across every world region. It takes little imagination to think of how a contagious disease can affect populations within confined spaces such as a prison, and with all the usual considerations around security and maintaining good order it is the noble efforts of Correctional Staff who ensure the smooth running of such facilities and to care for those people under their supervision.

The campaign is being supported by NGOs and associations who work together in the sector to improve standards, quality of care and to share knowledge among the network, including the American Correctional Association, African Correctional Services Association, American Probation and Parole Association, Correctional Leaders Association, Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), Confederation of European Probation, European Organisation of Prison and Correctional Services, Federation of Correctional Personnel Unions in Greece (OSYE), International Association of Correctional and Forensic Psychology, International Corrections and Prisons Association, National Trade Union of Prison Policemen (SNPP/NTP), Penal Reform International, The Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, United Nations Department of Peace Operations, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Commenting on the campaign, Executive Director of the International Corrections and Prisons Association, Michelle Carpentier said, “It’s a sentiment shared by many of our colleagues across the world. We are very proud to participate in the #WeApplaud campaign to give recognition to our colleagues in the field.”

As a former Correctional Officer in Correctional Service Canada, I am well aware of the day to day challenges of performing this job under normal circumstances. I cannot even begin to imagine the challenges they are facing now in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Correctional Officers around the world are working 24 hours a day to ensure the health and safety of everyone, and at the same time worrying about their own health and safety and that of their families.”

For many of the general public, the prisons system is something that is only characterised to them through popular television shows and movies, or through news reports that often focus on the negative aspects of these institutions. However, the reality of daily life in working with prisoners as they progress towards their eventual release back into the community can be much different from the dramatisation we see on television. These brave men and women are paramount in keeping our societies safe, they are an integral part of our justice system and many conduct their duties with pride and professionalism.

Correctional Officers are the forgotten front-line workers that keep our communities safer while helping offenders to successfully return to society. In the media, many other front-line personnel, police officers, paramedics, firefighters are recognized for their tremendous contribution and with very good reason; while the Correctional Officers working behind the walls are often forgotten. ICPA would like to recognize their commitment and acknowledge their contributions during this unprecedented time.”

Through news reports and social media over these past weeks, we have seen a huge movement in giving recognition to healthcare staff and key workers by members of the public as they temporarily emerge from their self-isolation to cheer and applaud from their windows. Whole streets are eerily quiet during these times yet come alive every evening at 8pm in a tremendous display of support and togetherness.

We hope that through this campaign, members of the public might also give some thought to our ‘key workers’ who, given the nature of their job, are often unseen yet play a pivotal role in the daily work of keeping our societies safer. Let’s applaud for them.”

For more info and to join this campaign, please contact alexpetrov@icpa.org