Job Shadowing Gives a New Perspective

New Castle, Ind. – Staff Development & Training (SD&T) Staff within the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) got a taste of what it’s like to work inside a correctional facility recently while participating in the IDOC’s Job Shadow Program.

Alexandra Johnson and Terry Hutchens, who began their positions earlier this year as Curriculum Developers, as well as Training Coordinator Brennon Fox broadened their experiences during their assigned On-The-Job Training. This took them into the Correctional Industrial Facility as well as the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility and the Indiana Reformatory to see what life is like for those employed within.

The trio spent time with Case Management, where they learned about the different jobs and the many offender programs. “CIF has a lot of programs for offenders, including a dog program where offenders help train dogs for people with disabilities. Learning about all the programs was the best part of the shadowing” Hutchens said. While shadowing in the Classification’s Department, they were able to attend a Parole Board hearing and learned about offender’s case files.

They also spent a couple days with custody staff working on the yard and in housing units. Working as a correction’s officer for a brief time in the late 90’s, Hutchens said he was excited to see how things have changed. He said he enjoyed his experience most working with the staff in the Administrative and Disciplinary housing units.

Having visited and toured a few facilities since she began working in corrections in 2017 as an Administrative Assistant at the Correctional Training Institute (CTI), Johnson said she did not know what to expect when it came to job shadowing. She was promoted to Curriculum Development Specialist in March 2020. “This time I really got to be a part of the day-to-day operations that go on within a facility.”

Johnson said the staff brought her along and included her in their work schedules. “It helped me to get a better perspective of what they do in the job setting.” Johnson said she felt it boosted the confidence of the staff she was able to work with. “I think that people like showing someone what they do at their job and it builds confidence within themselves.”

Brennon said it was a great learning experience for him, having transferred into the IDOC from another agency. “The goals of spending time inside facilities was to give me a better idea of the environment new hires are going into and what they encounter on a daily basis,” he said. Brennon trains new employees at CTI. “The biggest lesson I took away from my time shadowing was the importance of developing professional relationships and rapport with offenders as well as staff. The safety of the facility depends on communication and remaining firm, fair, and consistent with offenders.”

Job Shadowing was not only helpful in gaining a new perspective on correctional work, but it will also help in the development of curriculum for the Training Division.

Job shadowing is one way in which the IDOC is able to allow individuals from the outside to experience this unique work environment prior to being hired. Individuals who have applied and been interviewed can learn about a job or an occupational area of interest by observing, but not performing, work duties in the correctional work setting. It is a temporary, unpaid exposure to the correctional environment and has strict guidelines.

Job Shadowing is also available to all staff who are interested in learning about other careers within the IDOC. Current employees have an opportunity to expand their professional development and prepare them for promotional opportunities within the IDOC. They must meet the minimum qualifications of the position they wish to shadow to apply.

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