The following blog post was written by Sandy Heitman, Norix Furniture’s Senior Project Manager – Design & Construction.
If you are not currently part of the corrections industry, you probably don’t think about jail and prisons too often – maybe only when you hear stories in the news or read the newspaper. Like politics and religion, the topic can be quite controversial.
I started my career in this industry back in 1983. I’ve seen a lot of changes through the years. Some good and some of which left you shaking your head in disbelief. However, over the past three decades, I can truly say I have enjoyed my “stay” (pun intended).
Here are five reasons to consider working in the corrections industry:
It’s a small industry
For some reason this industry has remained relatively small with a very close knit group of individuals. It could be because of its unique products and application. Standard commercial products, construction and thinking do not work in these environments. It’s also nice to work in an industry where you can put a face with a name. Because the industry is small, you have the opportunity to get to know your customers, your competitors, owners, architects and contractors. Let’s face it: you spend a large part of your day working with these individuals. Being able to build relationships and friendships with these people is gratifying and makes coming to work more enjoyable and meaningful.
It keeps you thinking
Products used in this industry are designed uniquely different than standard commercial products. Keeping the inmate and staff safe is always a concern. When designing products you must think long and hard about whether any part or piece of the product can be manipulated, defeated, loosened or broken to become a weapon where inmates can hurt themselves or others. Are there any ligature points? Are there any areas where contraband can be hid or passed? Anyone in this industry can tell you multiple stories they’ve heard – always something you’ve never quite thought of. So in turn, you are always trying to out think the thinker.
Opportunity to make a difference
Las Colinas Women’s Detention and Re-entry Facility in San Diego County, a project that Heitman worked on.
The days of locking ‘em up and throwing away the key are gone. Today’s correctional efforts focus on humanizing conditions and rehabilitation. Trying to get to the root of the cause seems to be a better approach. Colors were never a consideration. Softer materials, light or fresh air were not part of the design. Today, these are not only part of the design but also viewed as part of the solution. It’s a pleasure working for Norix Furniture – a manufacturer in this industry that has led the movement and belief that we should be creating more humanized environments. I believe treating a human with respect and dignity will result in a person having more respect for themselves. Whether you work for a manufacturer, architect, contractor or facility, the push is in place to provide the help and tools to better the inmate so they leave ready and able to become a better citizen.
Becoming a “LIFER”
It’s not very common today to find anyone who has stayed with a company or even a market for more than five years. However, in this industry you find the majority of the people like me who have stayed within the industry for the majority of their career. Why is that? Could it be the fascination and uniqueness of the system? Is it because of the relationships that have been built? Or could it be we haven’t become bored with the same day to day situations of other markets? Through the years I have drifted off to other markets but have always quickly returned because of these stated reasons.
Sky’s The Limit!!
Whether you plan to work for a detention product manufacturer, justice architectural firm, detention equipment contractor or justice facility, the sky is the limit. The demand is high for individuals who want to jump on board, learn this industry and make a difference.