Changing perceptions about corrections
Husky Career Road Trips have been valuable for students to gain first-hand experience of day-to-day life in specific industries.
Jennifer Mahally, Superintendent’s Assistant for the Department of Corrections at SCI-Mahanoy, says that corrections is not typically at the forefront of students’ minds when considering a major or career. She’s hoping events like a recent Husky Career Road Trip will change that.
“Everybody that comes in always seems surprised,” said Mahally. “It’s nice to see their reaction when they realize how big it is and how well the facility is cared for.”
Husky Career Road Trips have been valuable for students to gain first-hand experience of day-to-day life in specific industries. They’re back after a brief halt during the COVID 19 pandemic when organizations, including corrections institutions, limited visitors to mitigate the spread of the virus. At SCI Mahanoy, students toured visiting areas, restricted housing units, dining areas, the medical department, workout areas, barber shop, and classrooms. Students also had the opportunity to interview current inmates.
“We wanted to present corrections as an option and let students see the inner workings of the facility,” explained Mahally. It may not be the first place people think of, but it is a great place to work. These tours expose people to what goes on inside, not just what they see on tv.”
Mahally says many are surprised when they find that everything on the outside is on the inside, like religious services, a school, a kitchen, and a local
store. They even have a dedicated fire and EMS team and janitorial and HR staff. Because of this, the employment opportunities, and the majors to get there, are endless. Bloom grads typically find their way to corrections through psychology, criminal justice, exercise science, secondary education, and nursing majors.
“We are a community inside a community. We have something for everyone in any field, from business to maintenance. Inmates move about going to classes, to work, etc. It is as normal as it can be.”
Academics, however, aren’t everything. Mahally says that people who work on “the inside” must have self-awareness and common sense that keeps them and their colleagues safe and the ability to communicate quickly and effectively, especially in stressful situations.
“Staff has to be dependable and aware of their surroundings at all times; you cannot be complacent,” Mahally explained. Safety depends on clear communication among security, support, and medical staff.”
Mahally began her career at SCI Mahanoy at age 18 and says the most significant thing she stresses to potential hires is the potential for a fulfilling career in corrections. Staffing positions typically come with excellent retirement benefits and opportunities to move anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania. She says employees also tend to be a close-knit group with a special camaraderie because of their unique work environment.
“The pay is excellent, and there are opportunities to transfer to other facilities. It is an excellent career. Being inside is like being one big family.”
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