Archive for the ‘Corrections’ Category

Federal Bureau of Prisons (seal)

Federal Bureau of Prisons (seal) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is your name and department/agency?

Shelley Wykoff.  I work for the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Please give us a little background about yourself, i.e., family, education, hobbies, etc.

I am the middle child. However, before it was all said and done, my father re-married twice.  I had nine step, half sisters and brothers growing up. I earned a Master’s degree in administration plus a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice with a minor in sociology. My hobbies include reading, travelling and staying fit; yoga, running, lifting weights.

When and why did you decide to become involved in law enforcement?

Technically, it is the field of corrections; specifically, the federal system field of corrections. I like to say it was all Dale’s fault, my boyfriend. I kept changing my major at Edinboro University, and began in the major of French to dental, then on to criminal justice. The university I attended was known for its criminal justice program. I was also doing security work with Dale at a hotel in Erie. Therefore, I was led by the events I was living at the time.

What is your present assignment?

I am an Operations Lieutenant (GL-11), having just received that rank and promotion.  I will soon be re-locating to a facility in Minnesota.

What do you like most about your job?

The ability to make a difference and lead those who are lost, while serving and protecting the public, staff and inmates.

What do you like least about your job?

The chance of being killed or disabled on a sunny afternoon.

How does your family feel about you being in law enforcement?

Oh, like most families they worry about what I do, however, they are proud of me and recognize it is a tough job.

Do you think the consensus is that law enforcement is a man’s job? If so, have you had difficulty being accepted as an equal?

Yes. Back in the dark ages and prior to the Feminism movement, but now it is a Hell No!  Yes, I have had plenty of problems being accepted as an equal—pressure to sleep with co-workers so I would feel more accepted.  Some male colleagues believe that is why we were hired.  But don’t do that everyone! This is my perception and opinion from my unique experiences, unless he is your complete and utter soul mate. Then be prepared to leave that career, ultimately there is an end to every romantic relationship.   Keep your Warden face on.

What would you like the public to know about your job?

We are there every holiday, we do shift work, we are paid for that but sacrifice those precious times with our family or someone who cares about us.  It is not for the faint of heart. It is high-stress. The statistics are not kind to our field. We lead in alcoholism, suicide and die early after retirement with an average age of 59. We must retire at age 57 from the BOP but can continue service in the federal government if we can find a position elsewhere in the system.

If you had to do it over again, would you choose law enforcement as a career?

I don’t think or believe one has a choice, rather one is born into a destiny. I did not choose it.

Is there anything additional you’d like to share?

Specifically, women employees in the federal and state prisons are paving a new path for women in this field. Historically, women were not allowed into the federal penitentiaries until the very late 1970’s to hold line staff positions. For years, The Federal Bureau of Prisons has had a gender-neutral hiring policy for all positions except correctional/federal officers at high security male institutions. In January 1992, the gender –neutral policy was extended to all positions, full implementation was in 1994. {footnote: Federal Prisons Journal; Winter 1994}  Today, women are still making “firsts” for the agency.  The first woman warden, the first Regional Director, Operations Lieutenant, Federal Officer. Women are leaving a trail of awesome administrators. The position I currently hold is held by only 4% (100+)  of women across the nation in over 117 federal facilities.  Since the beginning, the trend was for only women who came to the system from the military with rank. Now there has been a shift in that trend, college educated women are applying, too, and military women are using GI bill money to educate themselves as well.  We are professionals in uniform, white/blue shirt and blue pants.  Corrections ranks in the top five places to earn a modest living with a chance of a great pension, while making a difference.   Protecting and serving, there is no greater call.