I talk a lot in my blog posts about inmate life in prisons, but I rarely write about prison staff—the officers, administrators, and volunteers who oversee facilities and enforce the rules.
As a non-prisoner, I don’t have any experience working in prisons, but I did follow these guys closely for four years. I even developed friendly relationships with many of the guards and administrators I worked with as inmates.
Combining what I have seen and heard in my prison experience and research, I am confident that I can correctly answer today’s question-Can you be a prison guard with tattoos?
In this blog post, I’ll cover the following topics:
- A Grooming Guide to the Retribution Profession
- Tattoo and piercing rules vary by institution
A Grooming Guide to the Retribution Profession
The short and simple answer to today’s question is yes, you can be a prison officer if you have a tattoo. Appearance and grooming guidelines for the correctional profession are very common, but can vary slightly depending on the specific institution.
For male officers, hair and facial hair are regulated. Generally, they should keep their hair neat and clean, which must be cut short and trimmed regularly.
“While there is no corrections officer haircut that you must, your well-groomed appearance speaks volumes to supervisors and other colleagues about your level of competence. There are basically no extreme hairstyles, outrageous colors, or hair below the collar,” Online Corrections Officer Training and Employment Center.
Beards are allowed if kept neat and trimmed, but beards are generally contraindicated. The same goes for sideburns. Those have to stop at the bottom of the ear.
For the ladies, it is also necessary to keep the hair neat and clean. If their hair is long, the policewoman must tie it back so that the prisoner has nothing to grab. Female police officers also have rules about unnatural eyebrows and eyelashes, which are not allowed.
Officers must also abide by nail rules. They must be kept clean and trimmed at all times, and no longer than the tops of your fingers. Nail polish must be neutral (or may not be allowed at all, depending on the facility). Writing and designing on nails is prohibited.
Correctional officers cannot wear jewelry, such as watches and wedding rings, on the job. If your ears, nose, lips, eyebrows, or anywhere else on your face are pierced, you must remove the jewelry before starting your shift.
There are also beauty standards for cosmetics, perfume and cologne. Makeup must appear natural and conservative. Prisons generally do not allow the use of cologne or perfume. But if it is, it must be used in moderation.
Like I said before, the rules do vary from facility to facility. In general, grooming standards for hair, nails, jewelry, cosmetics, and fragrances are very generic.
Tattoo and piercing rules vary by institution
Tattoo and piercing rules do vary from institution to institution. There are differences between state agencies and federal agencies. There are also differences between private prisons and government-owned institutions, as well as between levels of security.
In general, the rules for correctional officers and tattoos are as follows:
“Your tattoo should not be offensive, offensive or gang-related in any way. Also, if you have a head, face or neck tattoo then you may also be violating your department’s guidelines.”
In my experience, many officers at the camp had tattoos on their arms, but I’ve never seen any face or neck tattoos. I know some officers wear long sleeves to cover their ink, but I don’t know if this is mandatory because of the specific tattoo or if the officer chooses to cover them for some other reason.
I know several of the officers I spoke to were in the military, so a lot of the ink they have has to do with serving their country. Some are ex-cops, while others are trying to succeed in law enforcement and/or corrections. So the ink they have is usually related to badges or police.
How do you feel about grooming standards for correctional officers? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: Guidelines for Proper Grooming & Appearance in Corrections Tattoos and CO's 10 awesome correctional officer tattoos 10 Reasons Why You're Not Getting Hired as a Correctional Officer Can you have visible tattoos and piercings working as a correctional officer here (CoreCivic)?