Officer’s outstanding career efforts honoredJason Mathews named ‘Correctional Officer of the Year’
By: Amy Chaffins, Alexandria Echo Press
“People skills” is an important characteristic for most jobs, but for someone working in the corrections industry it’s critical.
Local correctional officer Jason Mathews was recently recognized for his outstanding ability to work with people and dedication to his career.
The West Central Jail Administrators Association named Mathews Outstanding Correctional Officer of the Year during last month’s conference.
Mathews, originally from Osakis, has worked as a correctional officer at the Douglas County Jail for nearly five years.
“Mathews was nominated, first of all, for all the hard work he did before and during the time that we moved into our new facility,” Douglas County Jail Administrator Jackie Notch said. “He completely rewrote our training manual for our new staff and helped tremendously with training our current staff to move into the new jail.”
In addition, Notch said, two of Mathews’ co-workers asked that he be nominated for his efforts in helping a mentally ill inmate, in particular.
“[Mathews] would take him down to the gym every night and play basketball with him or he would sit by his cell at night and talk with him.
“[Mathews] is a very level-headed correctional officer with a lot of common sense,” Notch said. “He works well with inmates, staff and the public. He treats everybody fairly and he’s a good listener. I’m very proud of Jason and happy that he got this well-deserved award.”
Mathews said his primary role is to maintain the safety and security of inmates, co-workers and the facility itself.
But it’s also more than “just a job,” he said, it’s a profession.
“Correctional officers need to be able to interact with and help inmates with their concerns and everyday needs,” he said. “We need to have the knowledge and ability to talk to people, offering inmates alternatives in the choices they make, and offer them the resources, if need be, to better themselves,” he said. “We’re more than just ‘jailors,’ ‘turnkeys’ or ‘guards.’”
Mathews said the job entails something different every day and it’s unpredictable.
However, he said, “My co-workers have helped me so much since I have started. I learn something from a co-worker almost every shift. I started part-time, working with everyone, on every shift for about a year. That was the best training I could have ever had.
“I want to thank my peers and administration for nominating me for this award,” Mathews said. “It is a very rewarding profession… my co-workers help make it rewarding for me.”
More about Mathews
• He went to school for radio broadcasting and worked in radio for three years.
• He also worked in the soda and beverage industry.
• He said he learns something new about his job during every shift – much of which he learns from co-workers.