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From the Director: National Correctional Officers Week

How BJA supports our nation's correctional officers
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Each May, we pause to celebrate National Correctional Officers Week. We recognize correctional officers who exemplify professionalism, integrity, and strength in a challenging and often dangerous work environment. As the week wraps up, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) wants to thank our nation's correctional officers for their daily work.

BJA has long offered support for correctional officers through resources designated to this critical area of the justice system. BJA recently partnered with correctional entities across the United States to acknowledge and address the impact of Covid-19 on the overall health and wellness of correctional officers in state and local facilities across the country.

Covid-19 has changed the way we work. Although many Americans were able to work from home during the pandemic, our nation's correctional workers could not. BJA partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make funding available to correctional entities for Covid-19 screening, testing, and other detection and mitigation efforts. The purpose of this funding is to safeguard the health of the people who live in, visit, and work in correctional facilities. To stem the number of Covid-19 cases in our nation's jails and prisons, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program helped accelerate access to telehealth to protect the lives of prisoners and correctional offices. Telehealth played an essential role because it helped limit the number of visitors to jails and prisons, which reduced disease exposure for staff and patients and helped conserve scarce personal protective equipment supplies while maintaining inmate access to medical and behavioral health professionals.

Even before the pandemic, BJA understood the critical role of correctional entities across the United States and the importance of officer wellness and preparedness. BJA works with The Moss Group to provide an extensive range of programs, delivered onsite and virtually, to train officers in skills they need to succeed in today's jails and prisons. Training covers officer mental health, use of force, restrictive housing, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Ensuring officers and staff are prepared to successfully perform their critical roles in protecting public safety and reducing the risk level of people during confinement is critical.

These programs represent just part of BJA's commitment to protecting and supporting correctional officers. Other programs include the VALOR Officer Safety and Wellness Initiative, the Patrick Leahy Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program (which includes ballistic- and stab-resistant armor vests), and the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program. Additionally, BJA’s Body-worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program is currently accepting applications.

Once again, thank you to all the correctional officers nationwide. BJA stands willing and ready to support you.

President Biden appointed Karhlton F. Moore Director of OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in February 2022. Moore joins BJA from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, where he served as Executive Director and oversaw state and federal grants for law enforcement, victim assistance, juvenile justice, crime prevention courts, anti-trafficking efforts, reentry, corrections programs, and traffic safety.

Date Published: May 6, 2022