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Correctional Counselor I (9904)

Correctional Counselor I

California State Personnel Board Specification

  • Schematic Code: XS40
  • Class Code: 9904
  • Established: 02/01/1958
  • Revised: 12/13/2018
  • Title Changed: --


Under general supervision, as a sworn essential public safety officer, to assemble, organize, analyze, and record information necessary for classification and parole planning for prison inmates; to interview and counsel inmates and assist with their adjustment and development or modification of the inmate's program in a correctional setting; to perform peace officer duties as required, and to replace and/or assist custodial staff during emergency situations, such as fights, attempted escapes, or major incidents, such as riots; to maintain order and supervise the conduct of inmates; to maintain the safety of persons and property; and to do other related work.


Distinguishing Characteristics

Classification is the study of the individual prisoner for purposes of understanding his/her needs and providing an administrative procedure for carrying out a program for his/her adjustment, education and skill training. Employees in this series are usually assigned either to a reception center or to a State correctional facility and are expected to demonstrate high ethical standards consistent with other state peace officer classifications and perform in such a way that facilitates and promotes the department’s rehabilitative programs, policies, and public safety efforts. Reception center staff prepares an evaluation of an inmate and make recommendations for his/her subsequent classification, assignment, and program development/modification in a correctional setting. State correctional facilities attempt to assist inmates in their adjustment to institutional living, and to educate and provide skill training to prepare an individual for return to his/her community.


Employees in the next higher class of Correctional Counselor II generally are given specialized program assignments and may assume, on a regular or temporary basis, supervisory responsibility for classification and the development or modification of inmate programs.


Typical Tasks

Interviews inmates to gather information; reads, evaluates, reviews, and summarizes reports from a variety of sources to assist in classification of an inmate, or in development or modification of the inmate's program; writes and prepares board reports to the Board of Prison Terms summarizing all data on the inmate, while making a prognosis for parole suitability; gathers, verifies, and evaluates information in regard to enemy or gang affiliations between inmates, incidents, and requests made by the courts; interprets and evaluates the inmate's central file for patterns of positive or negative behavior; writes and prepares diagnostic evaluation reports on inmate for departmental review and for courts regarding recommendations for retention or parole of the inmate; recommends the level of institution to which the inmate will be assigned; writes and prepares parole referral reports to the Board of Prison Terms and parole agents including recommendations and summarizations of the program needs and resources available to the inmate; conducts counseling sessions with individual inmates to resolve personal problems, both on a routine basis and as crisis intervention; makes recommendations for placement of inmate in programs, or for withdrawal of inmate from programs; determines the custody requirements of inmates on an ongoing basis; records observations or contacts with inmates, families, outside agencies, confidential information, etc.; responds to written or verbal requests from inmates; reevaluates the program needs of the inmate on an ongoing basis; encourages and discourages specific inmate behavior; appears with and/or may represent the inmate at a disciplinary, classification, or parole hearing to discuss/present findings and recommendations; performs peace officer duties as required; replaces and/or assists custodial staff during emergency situations such as escapes or riots; utilizes de-escalation/communication/use of force techniques to defend the safety and security of a correctional institution; maintains order and supervises the conduct of inmates; protects and maintains the safety of public, staff, inmates and property while enforcing state and Federal laws, rules, and regulations; inspects premises and searches inmates for contraband; documents incidents per policy and procedures.


Minimum Qualifications

Either I

Experience: In a California state correctional institution either:

  1. One year performing the duties of a Correctional Program Supervisor I. or
  2. One year performing the duties of a Youth Counselor. Or
  3. Two years performing the duties of a Correctional Officer or Medical Technical Assistant.


Education: Equivalent to graduation from a recognized four-year college. Registration as a senior in a recognized institution will admit applicants to the examination but they must produce evidence of graduation or its equivalent before they can be considered eligible for appointment. (Additional qualifying experience may be substituted for not more than two years of the required education on a year-for-year basis.)



Experience: One year of experience in collecting, evaluating, and interpreting social, behavioral, and vocational data for purposes of counseling and promoting individual adjustment. This experience must have been gained in one or a combination of fields of probation, parole or correctional casework.


(Graduate work with an academic specialization in administration of justice, correctional science, criminal justice, corrections, criminology, sociology, psychology or other related behavioral science fields, or in a recognized school of social work may be substituted for the required experience on a year-for-year basis. Applicants substituting education for the entire experience requirement must have completed the equivalent of one academic year in an approved course in supervised casework or correctional fieldwork during or supplemental to their graduate work. Graduate students in one of these fields will be admitted to the examination, but must produce evidence of completion of one year of graduate work and the required year of supervised casework or correctional fieldwork before they will be considered eligible for appointment.)




Education: Equivalent to graduation from a recognized four-year college. Registration as a senior in a recognized institution will admit applicants to the examination but they must produce evidence of graduation or its equivalent before they can be considered eligible for appointment. (Additional qualifying experience may be substituted for two years of the required education on a year-for- year basis.)


Knowledge and Abilities

Knowledge of: Grammar, spelling, and correct usage of written and oral communication; correctional casework procedures; an understanding of the range of normal and abnormal human behavior; the policies and procedures of custody; problems involved in the supervision and adjustment of inmates; the various prison gangs, including gang memberships, interaction between gangs, special housing considerations, and the associated potential dangers to staff and inmates; cultural differences and perspectives of the inmates; the causative factors related to criminal patterns (crimes within the institution, gang applications, recidivism, etc.); group processes and dynamics, including various roles played by group participants and the different types of questions or modes of inquiry which can be used in group settings; simple arithmetic.


Ability to: Write comprehensive, complete, clear, and concise reports; utilize oral and written language to communicate effectively with inmates, staff and the public; command the respect and trust of inmates and staff; organize and prioritize work; meet deadlines; deal tactfully/diplomatically with sensitive issues; evaluate situations accurately and take effective action; deal effectively with a high volume of work; obtain specific information from an inmate during an interview; work under pressure; respond effectively to emergency situations; work independently; control an interview with an inmate; interpret institutional and departmental policies, rules and regulations; adjust to changes in assignments; work with a team of people from a variety of occupations and professional disciplines; motivate an inmate toward specific goals; recognize and handle dangerous situations for inmates and staff.


Special Personal Characteristics

Demonstrated capacity for assuming progressively greater responsibility as evidenced by a recent employment history; neat personal appearance; adaptability; and emotional maturity and stability; tact; patience; willingness to work irregular hours; satisfactory record as a law-abiding citizen; normal or corrected to normal hearing; sound physical condition; strength; endurance; and agility; willingness to report for duty anytime of emergency crisis.


Felony Disqualification

Existing law provides that persons convicted of a felony are disqualified from employment as peace officers. Such persons are not eligible to compete for, or be appointed to, positions in this class.


Training Requirement

Under the provisions of Penal Code Section 832, successful completion of a training course in laws of arrest, search and seizure, and in firearms and chemical agents is a requirement for permanent status in this class.


Background Investigation

Pursuant to Government Code Section 1031(d), all persons successful in this examination who are not peace officers with the Department of Corrections shall be required to successfully complete a thorough background investigation prior to appointment.


Citizen Requirement

Pursuant to Government Code Section 1031(a), in order to be appointed to a peace officer position a person must be either a United States citizen or be a permanent resident alien who is eligible and has applied for United States Citizenship at least one year prior to the final filing date for an examination. The one- year requirement does not apply to permanent resident aliens who have applied for employment prior to their 19 birthday.


Age Limitation

Minimum age for appointment: 21 years, pursuant to Government Code Section 1031(b). You must state your birthday on your application.


Drug Testing Requirement

Applicants for positions in this class are required to pass a drug screening test. (The drug screening test will be waived for employees who are currently in a designated "Sensitive" class for which drug testing is required under State Personnel Board Rule 213.)

  Updated: 12/20/2018
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