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Working Iowa: ‘Agents of Change’ needed at the 6th Judicial District Department of Correctional Services

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 8:37 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The staff at the 6th Judicial District Department of Correctional Services are considered ‘agents of change.’ They’re role models and are also in charge of movements in and out of the facility. The 6th Judicial District covers Linn, Johnson, Jones, Tama, Iowa, and Benton counties.

“What we do is we support and provide assistance to our clients as they transform their lives,” said residential manager Cynthia Dennis.

Dennis says there are several positions open, including community program monitors who assist clients find housing and jobs. There are also openings for community treatment coordinators.

“They lead our efforts in changed behavior as well as probation officers who manage cases and foodservice,” Dennis said.

She says the department is always looking to hire residential officers, which are considered entry-level positions. They serve as frontline staff who work with clients on a day-to-day basis. Zach Melchert’s interest in criminal justice led him to become a residential officer.

“We help enforce the rules of the program, we help support [our clients],” Melchert said. “We help navigate them through the program, build relationships with them, have them work on their goals, succeed with their goals and have them be successful out in the community.”

While a career in criminal justice does take some personal investment, he says it’s rewarding as well.

“It’s the people,” Melchert said. “The guys that we get to work with, our staff, there’s not too many positions I feel like that get to have the impact that we get to have on these guys.”

Cynthia Dennis, who’s been with the department for 34 years now, said the jobs are full of growth opportunities. That’s something she experienced firsthand.

“When I stumbled upon this job, I said I would only stay for 6 months, and I’ve been here 34 years now. That’s how fun it is,” Dennis said. “I started as a residential officer and I worked all the way up from every level.”

She says the staff all work to serve one purpose--to provide the clients the tools they need to re-enter society.

“We all know that what we do makes a difference, even to our maintenance coordinator. He is invested as all of us are in getting people where they need to be so they’ll be more successful,” she said.

For more information about careers with the Department of Corrections, click or tap here.

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