Correctional Officers vs. Bailiffs: What’s the Difference?

Correctional officers are in charge of people who are detained, incarcerated, or serving time in a detention facility. They oversee inmates, keep records of their behavior, inspect prisons and inmates to make sure safety regulations are followed. In addition to handling the trial’s evidence and documents, bailiffs maintain order in the courtroom. To ensure their safety, they also accompany judges, jurors, witnesses, and prisoners. Correctional officers and bailiffs earn an annual median salary of $45,300.

What does a correctional officer do?

Although they are employed by a variety of criminal justice organizations, correctional officers still have many of the same duties, such as:

Keeping order

In a jail or prison, a correctional officer upholds rules and regulations. They settle disputes between inmates and prevent disturbances. They do this by communicating clearly and using progressive penalties, like revoked privileges, to enforce the rules.

Supervising the activities of inmates

A correctional officer oversees inmates’ daily activities and ensures they adhere to the law. They also escort prisoners between institutions, medical facilities and courtrooms. They might keep an eye on inmates using surveillance tools like security cameras and alert authorities if they notice any suspicious behavior.

Reporting on inmate conduct

A correctional officer records information about inmate behavior to keep the facility secure. Correctional officers also write reports and complete daily diaries that describe inmate conduct or anything noteworthy that occurred during their shifts. A correctional officer records a prisoner’s rule violation and submits a written report. These reports may be used by the authorities at probation hearings and other court proceedings.

Supporting the rehabilitation and counseling of prisoners

Reports assessing the likelihood of a prisoner committing the same crime again could be written by correctional officers. They can assist in implementing the recommended treatments with inmates by speaking with them directly or referring them to other professionals. Additionally, officers can help inmates find employment after release from prison and prepare them for life outside of prison.

What is a correctional officer?

A correctional officer, also referred to as a detention officer, is a person responsible for supervising, managing, and securing prisoners. They usually work in penitentiaries, reformatories, jails, prisons or courthouses. There are several types of correctional officers, including:

What is a bailiff?

A bailiff, also referred to as a marshal or court officer, is a legal representative in uniform who makes sure everyone in the courtroom complies with orders. Throughout proceedings, they keep everyone in the courtroom safe and secure. In addition, bailiffs can accompany juries, judges, and inmates to and from courtrooms.

What does a bailiff do?

A wide range of tasks are carried out by bailiffs both inside and outside of the court, such as:

Protecting the judge and other attendees in the courtroom

In order to prevent people from bringing in prohibited items, bailiffs may also screen people as they enter the court. If anyone violates the rules, they also escort them from the courtroom. Bailiffs may be armed in order to defend those present in the courtroom.

Gathering evidence from juries and legal parties

Before presenting evidence to a judge for review, authorities first entrust it to a bailiff. This practice helps maintain order in courtroom proceedings. Additionally, bailiffs frequently serve as messengers for the jury when they need to contact the judge.

Accompanying sequestered juries

During ongoing trials, bailiffs accompany recessed or sequestered juries outside the court. In order to shield the jury from outside influences that might sway their judgment or opinions of the case, Additionally, bailiffs make sure that jurors don’t discuss the case with one another before the trial is over, as ordered by the court.

Serving a subpoena

Additionally, bailiffs deliver subpoenas, which are summonses to appear in court. A bailiff may go back to a person’s home to make an arrest if they don’t appear in court after being served with a subpoena. Additionally, bailiffs may be required by some courts to execute court orders to seize property.

Correctional officers vs. bailiffs

There are some notable similarities and differences between the roles of bailiffs and correctional officers, including:

Work environment

Depending on the location and security level, a correctional officer’s typical work environment changes. A correctional facility has three categories of security levels:

Bailiffs spend most of their working hours inside the courtroom. They might, however, spend some of their time escorting and protecting jurors or moving documents. Some bailiffs may choose to work in jails or prisons.


A four-year degree in counseling, sociology, psychology, criminology, criminal justice, or another area of the behavioral sciences is typical for a correctional officer. Higher-level correctional officers frequently hold advanced degrees in human services, clinical psychology, social work, or a related field.

Although some employers may prefer candidates with a two- or four-year degree in criminology, law enforcement, criminal justice, or a related field, bailiffs must have a high school diploma. They receive instruction in a variety of topics, including security protocols, self-defense, institutional policies, operations, and regulations, during their training at an academy. Training can last several months and varies by state.


Correctional officers and bailiffs often have similar work experience. They may have worked in the military, law enforcement, or the judicial and criminal justice systems in the past. Because they possess more relevant skill sets than other applicants, states may favor veterans in the selection process.


Here are some abilities bailiffs and correctional officers may possess to be successful in their positions:


Correctional Officers, Jailers, and Bailiffs Career Video


What are the disadvantages of being a correctional officer?

5 cons of being a correctional officer
  • Danger. The danger you might experience in the job as a correctional officer is one possible drawback.
  • Work environment. Another potential con of the position is the work environment.
  • Work hours. …
  • Job requirements. …
  • Training.

Why are correctional officers difficult to hire and retain?

Several factors make recruiting and retention difficult. First, among all occupations, correctional officers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses because of conflicts with prisoners and contact with contagious diseases. The threat of violence can cause hypervigilance and anxiety.

What ethical issues do correctional officers face?

Corrections officers deal with a variety of moral conundrums every day, including those involving bringing illegal substances into the facility, having sexual relations with prisoners, wasting resources, using inmates as laborers, and using excessive force or discrimination (Module 4: The Ethics of Corrections, 2015).

Is being a correctional officer depressing?

According to a recent study from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, California’s correctional officers frequently experience traumatic events that increase their risk of depression, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts.

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