California Prison Academy: Better Than a Harvard Degree

Prison guards can retire at the age of 55 and earn 85% of their final year’s salary for the rest of their lives. They also continue to receive medical benefits.


Roughly 2,000 students have to decide by Sunday whether to accept a spot at Harvard. Here’s some advice: Forget Harvard. If you want to earn big bucks and retire young, you’re better off becoming a California prison guard.

The job might not sound glamorous, but a brochure from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations boasts that it “has been called ‘the greatest entry-level job in California’—and for good reason. Our officers earn a great salary, and a retirement package you just can’t find in private industry. We even pay you to attend our academy.” That’s right—instead of paying more than $200,000 to attend Harvard, you could earn $3,050 a month at cadet academy.

It gets better.

Training only takes four months, and upon graduating you can look forward to a job with great health, dental and vision benefits and a starting base salary between $45,288 and $65,364. By comparison, Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college and $124,759 after 20 years.

As a California prison guard, you can make six figures in overtime and bonuses alone. While Harvard-educated lawyers and consultants often have to work long hours with little recompense besides Chinese take-out, prison guards receive time-and-a-half whenever they work more than 40 hours a week. One sergeant with a base salary of $81,683 collected $114,334 in overtime and $8,648 in bonuses last year, and he’s not even the highest paid.

Sure, Harvard grads working in the private sector get bonuses, too, but only if they’re good at what they do. Prison guards receive a $1,560 “fitness” bonus just for getting an annual check-up.

Most Harvard grads only get three weeks of vacation each year, even after working for 20 years—and they’re often too busy to take a long trip. Prison guards, on the other hand, get seven weeks of vacation, five of them paid. If they’re too busy racking up overtime to use their vacation days, they can cash the days in when they retire. There’s no cap on how many vacation days they can cash in! Eighty officers last year cashed in over $100,000 at retirement.


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The cherry on top is the defined-benefit pension. Unlike most Harvard grads working in the private sector, prison guards don’t have to delay retirement if their 401(k)s take a hit. Prison guards can retire at the age of 55 and earn 85% of their final year’s salary for the rest of their lives. They also continue to receive medical benefits.

So you may be wondering what it takes to become a prison guard. For one, you have to be a U.S. citizen with a high-school diploma or equivalent. Unfortunately, you can’t have any felony convictions, but don’t worry, possession of marijuana is only an infraction in California.

Read More @ Wall Street Journal


3 thoughts on “California Prison Academy: Better Than a Harvard Degree

  1. This article should provide a clue as to why the CCPOA fights so hard for its growth and survival – but will anyone pay attention?

    Here we see a large component of the prison industrial complex. One only need perform some basic math to understand the incentives for profit by a segment of society at great expense to taxpayers. The CCPOA, with its shadow lobbying agency Crime Victims United, wield substantial influence in Sacramento. The more pro-prison, tough on crime, lock ’em up politicians are elected, the greater the odds are for the growth and prosperity of the CCPOA membership. When certain players are in key positions, laws and sentencing policies take on a political nature that overrides what is beneficial for society. This is realized with the abysmal state of the prison system.

    From the entry level cop on the street, through the entire court system, to the parole agents in the field, there is great incentive to keep other humans cycling through the system. This is by design – not in the interests of justice as some would like have us believe. The system functions as a tool to profit the interests of those working in and contracting with it. The people who are labeled prisoners are merely fodder to feed the machine.

    If a system were functioning to benefit society, it would seek to minimize the actual numbers it incarcerates, using its resources wisely to effect rehabilitation and integration into society. Its called restorative justice.

    And all the while they claim public safety as their motivation.


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