CDCR Time Capsule

1957: Correctional Officer job duties, pay described

Three uniformed men stand in front of a brick wall with flyers on a board. One man points to them.
New officers are trained on how to use the information boards, circa 1950.

(Editor’s note: A job description for a Correctional Officer in 1957 included pay scale and information on the examination. The position was clearly stated to be “open to men only.” In the early 1970s, women were finally allowed to become correctional officers in a men’s institution. Today, women are in every role in CDCR from custody to leadership. There was also an age limit of 45. Today, there is no upper age limit.)

The department issued a job bulletin dated July 23, 1957, seeking Correctional Officer applicants.

“You will maintain order and supervise the conduct of prison inmates in all phases of their activities. Your duties will include overseeing inmates on work details; accompanying inmates outside institution grounds; censoring mail; supervising visits to inmates; and counseling and endeavoring to modify anti-social attitudes and behaviors of inmates. You must be willing to work at night and to report for duty at any time that emergencies arise,” the job posting states.

The starting salary was $358 a month with a maximum of $436.

“A merit salary adjustment to $376 is granted after six months satisfactory service. One year later the salary is increased to $395,” the posting states.

There were opportunities for advancement as well.

“The Correctional Officer classification is the entering level of a career service. After two years of employment, promotion is offered to Correctional Sergeant with a maximum salary of $505. Promotion to higher classes is possible with further experience. Promotion is by competitive examination on a merit basis,” the post states.

1957 job requirements

Unlike today, back in 1957, there was an age limit of 45 years.

“Experience: Two years full-time paid working experience. Military service is considered as qualifying experience. College training may be substituted for the required experience on a year-for-year basis,” the post states. The other requirement involved education. “Equivalent to completion of the twelfth grade. Additional qualifying experience may be substituted for a maximum of two years of this educational requirement on a basis of one year of experience being equivalent to one year of education.

“Examinations are held at these locations where there is a need for Correctional Officers and employment lists are not sufficient.” Seven adult institutions were listed.

Employment list exams

“Written test – You need to earn a passing score in a written test before being interviewed. If you are successful in the entire examination, your score on the written test will determine your standing on the employment list. The written test will be of the objective type and will cover these topics: Ability to control and maintain discipline among inmates; ability to following directions; ability to analyze situations,” according to the job posting.

“Interview – If you successfully complete the written test, you must qualify in a personal interview, which will cover education, experience and personal qualifications. Required personal qualifications include willingness to work at night and to report for duty at any time emergencies arise; understanding of inmates; satisfactory record as a law-abiding citizen; leadership ability; tact; emotional stability; good personal and social adjustment for correctional work; courage; alertness; and other personal qualifications essential in good public employees.”

See the requirements for today’s Correctional Officer position (link opens new tab).