Prison Organizational Structure

The structure of prison is something you may never anticipated needing to know. It is crucial to consider it, though, because your loved one is in the system and you should know how things are structured. 

Keep in mind that every state can vary slightly, and the Federal system can also vary, but it’s paramilitary, so most are organized in the following manner.

Key Personnel

Officer: (CO) Enforce rules and keep order within jails or prisons. Supervise activities of inmates. Inspect facilities to ensure they meet security and safety standards.

Sergeant: Under direction, supervises the activities of staff in a correctional facility. Ensures inmate safety and security, coordinates inmate programs, assists a Lieutenant in managing a detention facility.

Lieutenant: A corrections Lieutenant is in charge of a shift. This gives them responsibility for one or more areas of a prison or correctional facility. It is the job of the Lieutenant to ensure that a shift meets all security standards. As well as being responsible for inmates, the Lieutenant also manages other staff.

Captain: The corrections Captain plans, organizes, and supervises operational functions and activities, implements procedures, ensures compliance with legal or contractual requirements,  assesses situations and utilizes resources as appropriate, negotiates contracts and participates in operations.

Major: Oversees all Officer ranks and security of facility. Reports to Chief and above. 

Chief of Security: Oversees top command. Reports to Assistant Warden and Warden.

Assistant Warden: Works under the supervision and control of a Warden and may be expected to assume control of a prison in the Warden’s absence in charge.

Warden: Prison Wardens are high-ranking officials who oversee prisons. They are responsible for the safe, secure, and efficient operation of prisons. They also supervise all prison staff to ensure proper and consistent adherence to all applicable laws, rules, standards, and facility-specific policies.

Secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services: Oversees all Wardens and prisons in a particular state.

Key Staff Positions

Correctional Records Administrator: A Correctional Administrator has both leadership and clerical roles within a prison or jail. 

Personnel Director: Schedules enough people on duty for each shift, runs background checks on new employees, and recruits the best psychologists and prison Officers.

Case Management Manager: Supervises correctional Case Managers, or Treatment Specialists, that provide a critical connection between the prison system and social services. They work in an advisory capacity with convicted criminals to help rehabilitate and reintroduce them to the community.

Head of Education: A professional position responsible for providing leadership in the administration of education and library programs for residents of a correctional facility.

Head of Food Services: Foodservice Supervisors in prisons perform the same tasks as those in restaurants or other kitchen settings, from preparing and serving meals to ensuring proper sanitation and safety methods are followed.

Head of Maintenance: In charge of all building maintenance.

Religious Services: The Religious Services branch ensures the Constitutional religious rights of inmates. Chaplains facilitate religious worship and sacred scriptural studies across faith lines in addition to providing pastoral care, spiritual guidance, and counseling.

Volunteer Activities Coordinator: The Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for planning, organizing, directing, and implementing all volunteer-related programming and events.

Psychological Services: Prison Psychologists work diligently to curb the violent impulses of inmates. They often work closely with prison Psychiatrists to diagnose and treat mental disorders within their prison population. Prison psychologists are also responsible for managing suicidal inmates.

Social Work Services: Responsible for performing psychological assessments to determine inmates’ level of mental health functioning, evaluating the presence of mental health or substance abuse disorders, providing individual or group counseling sessions, teaching inmates life skills in rehabilitation groups, and preparing inmates to reintegrate into their lives beyond bars.

It is essential to make sure that you are familiar with the individuals you may need to contact as your loved one’s advocate. We hope this gives you a better idea of the structure of prison.