The institution of correctional facilities in Georgia is subject to a fragmentation of various departments and programs that fall under local, state, or federal jurisdictions. However, the main goals in a correctional facility are corrections, law adjudication, and law enforcement. Georgia is experiencing a surge in offender population within its correctional facilities. Consequently, there is a need for skilled counselors who are well equipped to deal with the needs of the clients in correctional facilities.
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Nevertheless, the qualification and licensure of these professionals is governed by both regional and national legislations. Federal laws on forensic treatment are uniform across the country but most state laws are specific to the practices within their respective jurisdictions. This paper focuses on two state laws that are specific to forensic treatment activities of correctional counselors within the state of Georgia.
One specific law that applies to the practice of correctional counseling in Georgia concerns licensure. Under Georgia’s state codes and statutes, these individuals are exempt from the strict licensure requirements that apply to other forms of forensic treatment:
“Persons who engage in the practice of professional counseling as employees of privately owned correctional facilities….or any county board of health, or any community service board or similar entity created by general law to provide services to persons with disabilities, as defined in Chapter 2 of Title 37” (Hanser, Mire & Braddock, 2011, p. 50).
Another important law stipulates that reciprocity be allowed within the state of Georgia. Consequently, individuals who have obtained correctional counseling permits from other states are allowed to engage in forensic treatment activities in Georgia as long as they uphold the local codes of conduct. Some states only accept and recognize credentials that have been obtained within their jurisdictions.
The two main counseling legislations have considerable implications on the provisions of treatment within forensic populations. The first law ensures that the choices of privately owned facilities when it comes to treatment of forensic populations are not interfered with by the state. The state of Georgia ensures that correctional counselors are able to carry out their activities with minimal interference and within the confines of the laws (Cohen & Dvoskin, 2012).
For instance, most correctional facilities, county boards of health, and other similar entities are governed by state laws. Consequently, it is not prudent for state administrations to subject their employees to parallel laws. On the other hand, this stipulation is directly beneficial to the forensic treatment of minorities such as people with disabilities.
For example, patients with mental health issues are well catered for under this state law. The law of reciprocity makes it easy for entry-level professionals who practice in Georgia. However, the ‘reciprocity’ stipulation might lower the quality of correctional counseling within the public populations of Georgia. For instance, private facilities engage in a thorough screening process that ensures that they end up with the best professionals.
My professional practice as a correctional counselor is affected by state laws in a number of ways. First, my choice to serve the population of Georgia is adequately remunerated by the state’s legal provisions (Bonner & Vandecreek, 2006). For example, I do not have to pay extra licensing fees when working as a counselor for state correctional facilities.
The law that allows me to seek education from other states is also helpful because it makes it easy for me to advance my profession. For instance, it is possible for me to engage in out-of-state educational seminars and garner recognition for these efforts within the state of Georgia.
Bonner, R., & Vandecreek, L. D. (2006). Ethical decision making for correctional mental health providers. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 33(4), 542–564.
Cohen, F., & Dvoskin, J. (2012). Inmates with mental disorders: A guide to law and practice. Mental & Physical Disability, 16(3), 462-463.
Hanser, R. D., Mire, S. M., & Braddock, A. (2011). Correctional counseling. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.