Pa. county jail hires 18-year-old COs
Snyder County Prison has to "think outside the box" to bolster staffing and fill vacancies
BY Marcia Moore
The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa.
SELINSGROVE, Pa. — A week after his 18th birthday last July, Braedon Reid was hired as a part-time corrections officer at Snyder County Prison.
The Midd-West High School graduate was the first teenager hired by the county jail in an effort to improve staff recruitment and retention.
Although applicants aged 18 and older are permitted to work in corrections, "There has always been a rule that we wouldn't hire anyone under 21," said Associate Warden Richard Frampton. "It's an industry standard."
Warden Scott Robinson, a former FBI agent who took the helm at the 134-bed county jail in November 2021, approved the plan to bring in younger recruits and give them an opportunity to gain experience in corrections.
The average years of service among the corrections officers at the jail outside of Selinsgrove is three to five years, said Deputy Warden John Rissell.
The goal is for the prison to at least keep the youngest hires until age 21 when they will be eligible to apply at other local, state or federal facilities, they said.
To date, Reid and another 18-year-old have been hired, but the second recruit is leaving this week to take another job, Frampton said.
Corrections staff are not allowed to handle weapons, neither a gun or pepper spray, until age 21, but younger staff are able to work in every other area of the jail.
Watch commander Dennis Briggs said they receive two additional weeks of training and must work with another officer for five weeks before they are evaluated and allowed to work without a mentor.
Described by superiors as reliable, dedicated and mature for his age, Reid also brings "a good attitude" to the workplace, Briggs said.
Reid learned the prison was hiring people as young as 18 from his mother, Kate Reid, a longtime Snyder County deputy sheriff.
"She was a big influence" on him being interested in the criminal justice field and choosing to apply for the job shortly after high school graduation.
His mother wasn't able to prepare him for working in corrections, though.
"I didn't know what I was stepping into. There are some challenges," he said, without further explanation.
Reid is currently paid $14.51 as a part-time officer, but works plenty of overtime, filling 12- to 16-hour shifts.
"He's doing such a great job we're trying to hire him full-time," Robinson said.
The younger hire effort is just one way the prison is looking to bolster its staffing and fill the four full-time vacancies.
Frampton said they looked at alternative ways after realizing that despite providing annual tours of the prison to SUN Area Technical Institute criminal justice students, only one graduate has been hired from the New Berlin school in the past decade.
Earlier this year, jail officials attended the Pennsylvania College of Technology exposition for law enforcement and handed out applications and brochures. Next spring, SUN Tech students set to graduate that month will be offered three-week training at the jail without inmate contact.
"We have to think outside the box," Robinson said.
[C1 poll question: What should be the minimum age requirement to become a corrections officer?]
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