Prison system partners with Army Reserve

Officials from the U.S. Army Reserve and the Alabama Department of Corrections recently signed an agreement that establishes an employer partnership, the first of its kind in the state.

The agreement allows Reservists to hold full-time employment with the prison system, the first such agreement between the Reserve and any correctional organization.

The goal is to get more qualified employees to the state prison system, and to ensure reservists have support when they’re called away from their regular jobs for training or a deployment.

Another benefit, said Maj. Gen. Adolph McQueen, is that soldiers who work as military police in an Army uniform as well as in a civilian uniform are more experienced because they get more training. The crossover also cuts costs for both organizations.

McQueen, a Montgomery native who’s now responsible for all Army Reserve MP soldiers nationwide, said “the military’s got a different name for it, but the duty is the same. If the soldier gets to do this every day, they may get more proficient in both uniforms.”

The added experience is a plus for the state, as well.

“Military personnel are familiar with the paramilitary rank structure,” said Brian Corbett, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections. “Someone who has military training, who has that type of discipline and dedicated background and work ethic tends to make a very good correctional officer.”

The partnership doesn’t change job requirements or the hiring process, but does raise awareness of jobs available to reservists in Alabama, Corbett said. The Army Reserve’s extensive background checks and training for new soldiers makes early employment steps easier for the prison system and other employer partners, McQueen said.

Essentially, anyone who works for the Reserve and the state Department of Corrections or other employer partners benefits because the organizations want to make it easy for the soldier to work in both capacities.

The department will allow soldiers to attend regular Reserve training and the agency has policies in place for deployments, Corbett said.

Since the Alabama Department of Corrections signed the agreement with the Reserve, the Birmingham Police Department has expressed interest in establishing a similar partnership, McQueen said.

The partnership is a recruitment and retention tool as well as a way to consolidate resources, McQueen said. In some of the partnerships, the Reserves have agreed to teach police officers and some police departments have instructors that will help soldiers.

The Reserve has partnered with police departments nationwide since establishing the program earlier this year. The Reserve also partners with Inova Health Systems of Northern Virginia and the American Trucking Associations Inc



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