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Supervising inmates and helping to ensure the security and integrity of the jail and House of Correction can be an intimidating job given that more than 1,000 inmates are housed there. However, as a Corrections Officer there for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, Jason Gonzalez feels prepared for the position as a result of his education in Nichols Criminal Justice (CJM) Program.
The CJM program prepared Gonzalez in several ways. Classes covering the latest developments in the field, field trips and correctional officers speaking in classes about the demands of the field provided him with a realistic view of the corrections field. CJM Program Chair Professor Kim Charbonneau’s experience as a former Captain of a Rhode Island Correctional Institute also helped. “Professor Charbonneau gave me great insight into the field and helped prepare me for my current job.”
While a student at Nichols, Gonzalez completed an internship at the Detectives Bureau of the Massachusetts State Police. Part of his assignment was to work closely with the detectives with ongoing investigations and cold cases, and observing witness statements and hearings at the Worcester Court House. He also handled and entered evidence into their database.
“The most important lesson I learned while there was to pay close attention to every detail,” he says. “Often times the little details in a case lead to the big arrest. The troopers encouraged me to never give up in my dream of pursuing a career in law enforcement. As it may be hard at first, the payoff would all be worth it,” he adds. As a result of his experience, Gonzalez recommends that all CJM students complete an internship and make the most of it. More than 80 percent of CJM students complete an internship.
Clearly Gonzalez is pleased to be working as a correctional officer, but his long term goal is to become a Massachusetts State Trooper. “Whether it is obtaining more certifications in areas such as firearm instruction and mixed martial arts, I am doing whatever I can to make myself more marketable to agencies,” he says. “Working in a correctional facility is giving me some great experience that I believe will help me in my future endeavors as a Trooper.”