Job stability


For those of you that might be able to add to this discussion.....

I recently left hospital nursing and took a full time job at a local prison. I had never worked in this sort of environment before, so it is all new to me. I am not a job hopper, so I was hoping that I could make this a long term thing, provided that I enjoy the work.

I decided to look up information on how the prison system works, and was surprised by what I found. By reading a lot of the articles online, it sounds like tons of states are going to try and implement prison reform policies, which would decrease the total number of inmates in the system. I am in Florida where there are approximately 50 major facilities, but my concern is that if they decrease the population by as much as they want to, will there start to be closings of prisons? Everything that I have read online talks about how terrible the system is and it seems that everyone is in support of cutting the amount of spending on the prison system. Does this mean that for those of us choosing to work in this area constantly have to be worried about budget cuts affecting whether or not the facility we work in will be closed? What do you think?

Neats, BSN

682 Posts

Specializes in Case Manager/Administrator. Has 14 years experience.

I think prison reform is a great thing. I am a past prison healthcare manager. So what does it mean for healthcare with this prison reform? I think there will be some cuts in healthcare, this will take a long time over a period of say several years. If you have a state job with the prisons system you are a little more protected. If you are a contract worker with a state prison who contracts out health care services you might find cut backs, and those who are left will work a little harder at their jobs.

It also depends on where you are located within the state prison system. If you are in an outlier facility (away form the intake prison system) then your chances of this facility closing would be higher. If you are in the intake your job maybe more secure. Same with say.. you work in the infirmary. It depends on the size of the facility and where you work as well.

Look the reality is some people will lose their jobs if we plan and do prison reform right. I am not so hopeful that the US can do this easily as the prison system is politically run. There are so many external factors you must consider and then there are the factors of the inmates themselves. We have allowed people to have dependence on systems in place that are considered entitlements (prison is not one of them until you get inside). I can see an increasing parole violation and increase recidivism happening so it will be a revolving door for you all healthcare workers-much like the jails. Victims will rise up and demand a more oversight for these inmates. I see it changing to acute clinical care where theses inmates will have access to healthcare services you will deliver and then go back into the community. Some one has to step up and take care of these people, filling the emergency departments will last a short period until the state is forced to look at alternatives and acute clinical care is one of those, these inmates will still be under the care. custody, and control at some level of the prison system. Jails will not be able to take them as thy are already bulging at the seams, it truly is a no win situation. It will not change until the inmate changes.

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

2,066 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 28 years experience.

Being in Florida, I wouldn't worry too much about change coming very quickly. The state is run by Republicans, who generally are more geared toward high levels of incarceration and not so much toward reform (not a political statement, just a general observation).

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

153 Articles; 21,232 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 31 years experience.

I am not a prison nurse but rather a volunteer with our state's prison reform initiative. I live in IL for reference.

Our governor decided prison reform was on the docket a couple of years ago. He wanted to reduce IDOCs population by 25% in two years. Uh nope he wasn't able to do so. In the 1990's when the US was "tough on crime" too many people were sentenced to extraordinary long prison terms and the state made them subject to truth-in-sentencing. This means that what you get is what you serve. No "good time", no reduced sentencing, no leeway. If you were sentenced on a 100% sentence, you served 100% of your time, if 85% sentence, yep 85% is what you serve.

Personally I get called frequently by several correctional staffing agencies for positions.

So, I think the states will never run out of people to incarcerate. Best wishes on your decision.


1,487 Posts

I was in a forensic psychiatric hospital for about 13 years and only left for a much better opportunity. I think these jobs are about as stable as any job can be. Not only that, at least in my state, it takes an enormous amount to fire anyone once they pass probation.

In my state, the jobs actually expanded about 10-12 years ago with the long term civil confinement of sex offenders.

I don't think you should worry that your job will ever dry up.

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

2,066 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 28 years experience.

If you are concerned about the prison population dropping to the point that there will be far fewer jobs, we will probably both be retired long before anything close to that happens. There are too many people whose elections depend upon a lot of arrests and convictions (county sheriffs, district attorneys, attorneys general and so forth) for things like that to move forward quickly. There are also members of the state legislature who would be in trouble at the polls if they appear to be too soft on crime.