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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Corrections Support

Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
January 20, 2009


Related fact sheets: Overview of Programs | Civilian Police Programs


Initial civilian police (CIVPOL) missions in post-conflict environments focused almost exclusively on indigenous civilian police and placed little emphasis on other aspects of a host country’s criminal justice system. It soon became apparent that by doing so, reform and developmental efforts were not as successful as they could have been, because other criminal justice components such as the prosecutors, courts and correctional organizations had not received commensurate support. Those elements needed reform or development assistance to function at a level equivalent to the police.

Accordingly, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), Office of Civilian Police and Rule of Law (CIV) was charged with working with all criminal justice agencies rather than simply the civilian police. INL/CIV now employs senior technical specialists in prosecutorial, judicial and correctional development as well as in the civilian police field. Wherever possible, CIV plans, develops and implements post-conflict reform or redevelopment programs that address each criminal justice system component to maintain equilibrium among all.

Growth of Program Over Time

The overall CIVPOL program has grown exponentially since its launch in 1994. Long standing or recent commitments to the program have been fueled by an increase in international strategic objectives, including UN Missions. The demand is expected to continue, with resources shifted from one mission to another as necessary.

At the end of May 2008, INL had over 115 corrections advisors deployed on UN and bi-lateral missions. Total funding for these programs is in excess of $70 million. In addition to the advisors, INL is managing approximately $130 million in prison construction and renovation projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti.

The Future of Correction Support Missions

The importance of corrections to the future of post-conflict stabilization and rule of law is expected to grow in support of U.S. foreign policy initiatives. CIV anticipates the demand for experienced professionals in corrections management, budgeting, classification, records, disturbance control, prisoner transportation, inmate services, training, facilities design and maintenance, and probation and parole will continue for the foreseeable future.

Professional and Personal Development

Participation in a mission expands a person’s knowledge of the world, offers the chance to travel internationally, and provides opportunities to establish friendships with other professionals around the globe. Advisors are exposed to a variety of criminal justice models and gain an understanding of how important basic administrative and organizational systems are to an overall corrections program. Prior to deployment and during a mission, advisors receive training in a myriad of disciplines, such as human rights, trafficking in persons, convoy operations, and U.S. foreign policy.

How Will Your Organization Benefit?

Organizations that allow personnel to deploy on missions benefit in several ways:

  • Mission veterans return with expanded skill sets in communications, training, and systems development.
  • Mission veterans often return with improved project management skills.
  • Allowing personnel to deploy on a mission provides opportunities to establish contacts with foreign corrections agencies, which can lead to better intelligence operations, streamlined extraditions, and valuable cultural exchanges.

To improve state/federal cooperation, INL has established a program where state agencies interested in supporting international corrections missions can enter into a memorandum of understanding with INL for the advancement of U.S. involvement in international corrections.

Life on a Mission

Missions are filled with challenges and opportunities. Some missions involve significant dangers, including exposure to hostile fire and/or disease. However, most of the missions occur in environments where the conflict has subsided and the dangers, while present, are not constant. Living conditions on many missions is sparse. Accommodations are often basic, travel is challenging and time consuming, and separation from family and friends is a reality.

However, the rewards are worth the sacrifice. While on a mission, shared experiences forge life-long bonds, and being part of a program that rebuilds a nation instills a sense of accomplishment and justifiable pride that as an advisor, you made a significant contribution to justice.

Hiring Mechanisms

The Department of State contracts with private companies to recruit, select, equip, and deploy subject-matter experts in policing, criminal prosecution, court administration, judicial adjudication, criminal appellate practice and correctional programs.

Following pre-deployment training in the U.S., criminal justice program personnel are sent to the mission area or are "seconded" to the UN (or other sponsoring organization -- such as OSCE). Within a mission, officers function under the operational control of the sponsoring organization, which also provides them with an allowance to cover food, lodging, and incidental expenses. The contractors maintain offices in the mission areas to handle administrative and support issues, and to assist with programs designed to improve quality of life.

Recruitment information for International Corrections Programs can be found at these websites:

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