Other States laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report

The Connecticut General Assembly


January 26, 1995 95-R-0202


FROM: Lawrence K. Furbish, Assistant Director

Neil Ayers, Legislative Fellow

RE: Correctional Officer Arrest Powers

You asked which states authorize correctional officers to arrest people.


We have looked at the 29 states with the largest prison populations and therefore presumably the largest number of correctional officers. We found 5 that grant correctional officers general arrest powers, 15 that grant officers limited arrest powers or arrest powers in limited situations, and 9 that do not grant such officers arrest powers. The states are listed in Table 1. The most common limitations are that officers may only arrest within a prison or may only arrest prisoners for incidents occurring during transportation. Another common limitation is that only wardens, supervisors, or specially designated officers can arrest.

Table 1

Correctional Officer Arrest Authority

General Authority No Authority Limited Authority

California Illinois Alabama

Colorado Indiana Florida

New Jersey Iowa Georgia

New York Louisiana Kansas

Table 1 (Contd.)

General Authority No Authority Limited Authority

Rhode Island Maryland Maine

Massachusetts Mississippi

Michigan Nevada

Ohio New Hampshire

Oklahoma North Carolina


South Carolina





We have attached a copy of an OLR report prepared last January (91-R-0251) that looked at 18 states concerning whether correctional officers were defined as peace officers and had arrest powers. We looked at an additional 12 states and were able to obtain information on all but one (Pennsylvania) which brings the total of state to 29. If you would like us to contact the other 20 states please let us know. We were unable to find any central source that had information on all the states. We had also enclosed a copy of 94-R-0979 that describes the arrest powers of Connecticut correctional officers.


The Colorado Revised Statutes define different "levels" of peace officer (Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-1-901). Investigators employed by the Colorado Department of Corrections are "level Ia" peace officers while other officers, guards, and supervisory employees of the department are designated "level II" peace officers. These officers all have full authority to enforce the laws while acting within the scope of their authority and in the performance of their duties. All peace officers have the authority to arrest (Colo. Rev. Stat. 16-3-102).


Georgia law gives wardens, superintendents, and their deputies full arrest power with regard to prisoners and those interacting with prisoners on or near prison grounds (Ga. Code Ann. 42-5-34). . The commissioner of corrections can also delegate full police powers to make summary arrests for violations of any criminal law to anyone in his employment provided the person meets the requirements specified in law (GA Code Ann 42-5-35)..


Indiana correctional officers do not have authority to make arrests. Section 11-8-2-5(b)(3) of the Indiana Statutes, Annotated gives any employee of the department the power to execute a warrant for an escaped prisoner, but according to Jim DiMitry of DOC's legal department, State Police always accompany these employees and make the actual arrests.


Corrections officers in Iowa do not have the power to make arrests. But, according to John Goldman, legal counsel to the DOC, parole officers in Iowa do have that power.


According to the Michigan State Police Office, corrections officers in Michigan do not have the power to make arrests. The State Police make any arrests necessary within prison compounds.


The law gives agents of the secretary of corrections all the authority of peace officers, including the power to arrest, when transferring prisoners from place to place (N.C. Gen. Stat. 148-4). These agents also have authority to apprehend, arrest and

return escaped prisoners.


According to the Department of Corrections legal department, correctional officers in Ohio do not have the power to make arrests. The Ohio Highway Patrol make any arrests necessary within prison compounds.


The director of corrections has the authority by statute to grant all the powers of a peace officer to any corrections officer (Or. Rev. Stat.. 423.076). This grant of authority includes the powers to prevent escape and to pursue, search for, and recapture an escaped inmate. This authority extends beyond prison walls in the event of an escape, but is relinquished when law enforcement officers take control of the escapee.


Rhode Island law defines corrections officers as full peace officers (R.I. Gen Laws 12-7-21). According to Jerry Sipriano, chief legal counsel for the DOC, these officers have full arrest power anywhere in the state.


Corrections officers have the status of peace officers in matters relating to custody, control, transportation, or recapture of any inmate in the state (S.C. Code Ann. 24-1-28). This status gives them the power to arrest in any situation related to their duties.


According to Wade McGuinley, of the legal office of the Department of Corrections, Virginia's corrections officers have a limited power to arrest. This power applies only when they are on duty and either on state property or transporting prisoners. They have complete arrest powers at these times although they are not considered law enforcement officers. The director of the department may also designate up to fifteen members of the internal investigations unit of the department to have the full authority of law enforcement officers for the investigation of criminal behavior within the department (Va. Code Ann. 53.1-16).