Charles Hawes is a correctional officer at Joyceville Institution in Kingston, Ontario. He recently participated in a Blueprint 2020 innovation fair where he was part of a human library and answered questions about his job from those in attendance. Read all about his experience, as well as how he got his start at CSC and what a typical day at Joyceville Institution looks like for him.
Tell me a little bit about yourself – when did you start working at CSC?
I started my career in December 2001 when I began correctional officer training here in Kingston. I’m also a member of the guard of honour, the institutional coordinator for our employee wellness program, and I volunteer with the Ontario Special Olympics.
How did you come to be involved with the human library?
I was given the opportunity to discuss what it is like to be a correctional officer, our role in the public sector, and how our duties impact the lives of offenders and the general public.
Why did you say yes to this opportunity?
I’m proud of my career and enjoy what I do. I believe it is just as rewarding and important to me as it is for any other employee of the public service to know what other departments do in their daily routines, and the effects and accountability we have on and to the greater public.
How does a normal day start for a correctional officer?
The shift starts off with a shift briefing by the correctional manager where I am informed of any concerns or abnormal behaviour taking place.
What does a typical day look like?
Every day can be different as our job is to protect staff, offenders, and the general public. We are counselors, first aiders, and key holders. We control movement while actively encouraging offenders to become law-abiding citizens through programs, school, and trade skills in the shops.
What type of training do you do for your work?
After your initial training at the staff college, you are required to complete your ongoing Standard First Aid, Firearms, Chemical Agents, PSRT (Personal Self-Defence Refresher Training), Suicide Training, SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus), and other courses that you and your manager deem necessary to further your development.
What surprised you about what people did or didn’t know about your work?
Most people had no idea what training is involved and required on an ongoing basis. I was also asked questions about whether TV portrays working in a prison accurately (it doesn’t). Most people said they couldn’t imagine doing our job, and commented on how it must be difficult to be in our environment and to manage the effects it has on both our personal and professional relationships.
What did you get out of the day personally?
I enjoyed meeting new people who work in various government departments, and asking what they do and how their decisions affect our daily lives.
In one or two sentences, what is your personal CSC story?
Every day is unique and everyone deserves to be treated with respect. The media typically reports on the negative side of corrections, but very seldom reports on the positive that can come about.