Job Hunting at Department of Corrections

December 22, 2003 -- Posted at 4:09 p.m. CST

NEWPORT -- The Arkansas Department of Corrections is looking for a few good men and women. They are hosting a job fair today to fill newly established positions at their Newport Complex. Folks have been in and out all day applying for jobs within the McPhearson and Grimes units...but it's a little more intensive then just filling out an application.

Debbie Mathis is the human resources manager for the Newport Complex and says the interviewing process is intense.

"They'll go through an interview process a finger-printing and drug testing process, and then you'll have the paperwork packet they'll fill out...and then everything goes behind the scenes," said Mathis.

Working behind the scenes of a correctional facility can be intimidating and sometimes does get the best of some applicants...

"They'll see the inmates and sometimes when they hear the gate closing, that kind of unnerves a few of them," said Mathis.

Michael Henson was at the job fair and says he is looking for a job with benefits and is ok with the idea of working around inmates.

"You know a lot of people say it might be bad, but a lot of people say it might be good, so I'm really not worried about it," said Henson.

Sgt. Cameron Wood, is the drug test coordinator for the facility and has worked there for three years.

"It's actually a good place to work. It's a state job, you have the state benefits. A lot of people think that it's a rough house or that it's a rough job, but it's absolutely's just the opposite of that. It's actually a good place to work," said Sgt. Wood.

Officials say that the Christmas holiday will slow down the application process just a bit, but normally those who apply are hired within two weeks.

"It'll probably be next week before we really get a handle on things," said Mathis.

About forty jobs are up for grabs for applicants who could potentially make this a career.

"I skeptically came to work here three years ago, and since then, it's kind of like a big family. I've got a lot of good friends and a lot of good people who watch my back everyday. I have every intention of making a career out of it," said Sgt. Wood.