Let’s give a big cheer for all of the correctional employees out there!

That’s not something you hear every day, is it? Sadly, and unjustly, this kind of appreciation is not often heard and the hard work that those keeping jails, prisons and other detention facilities safe and secure and free of harm largely goes unnoticed. So we here at Norix are going to be bold and make the claim that correctional employees are the unsung heroes of our justice system, and these hard working men and women deserve much more praise than they presently receive.

Giving praise to these individuals is especially important each year during the first full week of May which has been designated as National Correctional Officers and Employees Week. This year’s week of appreciation began Sunday, May 3 and ends Saturday, May 9 with events and ceremonies throughout the United States both celebrating and commemorating those in uniform who work or have worked in our nation’s correctional facilities.

“Historically, correctional officers have been viewed as ‘guards,’ occupying isolated and misunderstood positions in prisons and jails. In recent years, the duties of these officers have become increasingly complex and demanding,” President Ronald Reagan, who first proclaimed the week in 1984, once said. “They are called upon to fill, simultaneously, custodial, supervisory and counseling roles. The professionalism, dedication and courage exhibited by these officers throughout the performance of these demanding and often conflicting roles deserve our utmost respect.”

The week was first called National Correctional Officers Week, but was officially changed to National Correctional Officers and Employees Week in 1996 to include the many other vital staff members that fill essential roles inside our correctional facilities.

Statistically speaking, the tasks of correctional employees are monumental. In 2013, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – an arm of the Justice Department – released a report that showed that at the end of 2012 correctional facilities had about 2.3 million inmates within their walls – 744,500 located in local jails, 217,800 in federal facilities and roughly 1.35 million in state prisons. That’s more than 2 million inmates to watch, feed, clothe, provide medical care for and transport, among the many other services our correctional employees provide.

“Correctional officers have the difficult and often dangerous assignment of ensuring the custody, safety and well-being of the over 600,000 inmates in our Nation’s prisons and jails. Their position is essential to the day-to-day operations of these institutions; without them it would be impossible to achieve the foremost institutional goals of security and control,” Reagan said.

While you may not be participating in any events this week, it’s quite possible that you know someone who works inside a correctional facility. If so, please take the time to thank them for the work they do. And from all of us at Norix Furniture, we thank all employees that work hard and risk their lives keeping our nation’s correctional facilities safe and secure. And we hope others recognize you, too, during National Correctional Officers and Employees Week and throughout the rest of the year as well.