One career field in America that is about as guaranteed not to be outsourced as it is possible to get without incurring into those careers defined by initials like CEO and CFO is the correctional and court officers field. If the day ever comes when the courts of America are outsourced, criminals will easily become this country’s number two export behind meaningless information about pseudo-celebrities. Until then, rejoice! The so-called war on drugs ensures a steady income for those looking to get in on the correctional action.
The jobs available range from the public defenders who can’t keep a man who stole a whole chicken to keep his kids from going hungry out of jail to corporate lawyers who get slick mass murderers like the execs of Enron and Lehman Brothers out of the penal system. America’s court system does not run on the grease provided by lawyers, however. Attorneys and judges are the glamour girls of the American correctional and court system, but just as it takes an entire team of trained cosmetologists to get Paris Hilton ready to face her adoring public, so does it take a team to allow losers like F. Lee Bailey and Antonin Scalia to get fatter than Karl Rove at a free barbecue for the American Taliban Party.
Legal assistants and paralegals may go by different names, but they are essentially the same creature. Consider paralegals the nurses of America’s court system; they do all the work and the lawyer gets the paycheck quadruple the size. Paralegals are charged with investigating facts, researching precedent, preparing statements and often even interviewing or videotaping witnesses. The schooling to become a paralegal is not nearly as intensive as it is to become a lawyer and the pay is nowhere near as great. The good news is that the hours are even longer.
Court reporters are those men and (usually) women you see on television shows who sit at a typewriter-esque machine and patiently transcribe every word. The only time the court reporter gets into the action is when he/she is asked to repeat back what was just said. While hardly a glamour position, don’t underestimate the appeal of this challenging career. You don’t have to type 1,000 words a minute to become a court reporter because that typewriter-esque machine is capable of recording several words at once. The real appeal of being a court reporter is that you can freelance, which means the transcript belongs to you. That means you can get paid for your time and then make extra lettuce by selling the transcript of a trial or deposition or anything else your services are called upon to record to whomever might want a copy.
The bailiff is another forgotten figure inside the courtroom. Bailiffs are usually sworn law enforcement officers who are assigned to the courtroom. Other bailiffs are now sworn members of law enforcement agencies, but are deputized for their particular duties. The duties of a bailiff include that all-important keeping of “order in the court.” This can mean anything from quieting the peanut gallery to restraining unruly defendants. Satanists who might be burned by holding a copy of the Holy Bible might want to avoid pursuing a career as a bailiff due to the whole swearing-in part of the job.
Court clerks are the administrators of justice in America’s court system. Your job would be to maintain records and keep the court’s robustly oiled wheels of justice turning smoothly on schedule. When paperwork is required for a court hearing or trial, it is up to the clerk to make sure everything gets there in order. While court clerks can be a lowly position to start with, by the time you reach the top of this career path’s ladder, you could be easily pulling in more than some lawyers.
The career of corrections officer does not begin only after a verdict has been reached in court. Corrections officers are there when a suspect is booked and is there to guide dead men walking. Correctional facilities are highly stressful places to work and raw danger is always a present threat. According to Gary Hill in “Correctional Officer Traits and Skill,” the most desirable traits in a corrections officer are these: dependability, emotional stability, optimism, compassion and-get ready-punctuality.
Probation and parole officers are the conduit by which the rehabilitated make the transition from prison to society. Offenders are counseled and evaluated and their progress tracked. It should take a four year degree to become a probation or parole officer in most states, but it doesn’t hurt to try to wrangle your way past that with clear expertise in the field. This facet of the court and corrections system can potentially be one of the most rewarding as you get to face offenders on the way up and out rather than on their way down and in.