Business Mentoring | What Corrections mean when it is a job?
Author: Leon Ling | Photo: Matt Jerome | Guest Speaker: Ivan Chow
For our non-English speaking participants, they do not fully understand what Correction means as a profession.
It means punishments and punishing bad people in Thai and Japanese while educating with punishment in Mandarin. However, people in the Correction industry play a critical role in the city while seldom attention obtained.
In 2019, Ivan Chow decided to retired after 27.5 years of career in Corrections. With a dream of becoming a police officer and a Master’s Degree in Education from Simon Fraser University, Ivan secured a position as a regular Correctional Officer in 1993 and became a successful candidate for a correctional supervisor position.
“The only thing the prisoners lost was the physical contact with people and the freedom to the outside world,” said Ivan.
Generally, the correctional facilities are the same as prisons but more like rehabilitation facility. Compared with the heavy labor in Asia and severe punishments in the US, the Canadian prison system is different. Not only gym, shop, 25 channels of TV, and four meals a day provided to prisoners, but also programs and university courses to promote mental condition and learning living skills.
“My responsibility was to keep my community safe by keeping prisoners behind the locked door, then to keep myself and people whom I worked with safe, and keep prisoners safe from breaking the rules and harming themselves,” said Ivan.
The prison system can be different, but the prisoners are similar. Ivan encountered various law brokers from drinking while driving to murderers in his career. Extreme situations emerged from time to time when the prisoner was out of control and smashing the facilities. Ivan was trained for the emergency protocol, which correctional officers would evacuate to a safe space while an emergency team applies enforcement. The lacking trust from prisoners to the Correctional Officers also brings challenges for correcting their deviated behavior from the law.
“I always feel dangerous when I walk through the doors to work. My co-workers and I need to limit the multi-dangerous at work since some incidents could go wrong and cause harm in the prison,” said Ivan.
With the little positive in prison, what brought Ivan comfort was the supportive families who accompanied him with warmth and love after Ivan came back from the intensive work and ex-prisoners whom he helped living a productive life instead of coming back again.
“This is not a job for everyone, and it requires an open-mind to succeed. I tried not to judge what the prisoners did and how they got here, but to listen to them. I would think about what they said and how they got it, then think about what I can help them,” Ivan said.