Countdown to 59: A Warden’s Passion for Change

As I write this, I have exactly 410 days left until I turn 59 and 7341 days until I reach 78. Why do those numbers matter? 

59 is the average life expectancy of correctional officers. The average for all American men is 78. That nineteen-year gap demands serious attention from everyone involved in corrections.  

I spent many years in uniform, moving up the ranks from a correctional officer to warden. This profession, honorable and necessary, also carries a heavy burden. The stress of working in an often hostile and dangerous culture takes a massive emotional toll, dramatically impacting the life expectancy of those who serve.  

But beyond the walls of the correctional facilities, there’s a ripple effect that reaches into officers’ homes. Their families bear the weight of this broken system, too. Children grow up watching their parents return home exhausted, both physically and emotionally. It’s not just that officers face on average a lower quantity of years—it’s that they face a lower quality of life. It’s no wonder that the entire sector now has a serious staffing problem, which makes facilities more dangerous and adds to the list of issues that make corrections a never-ending problem for politicians and those tasked with fixing the problem.  

At Social Purpose Corrections, we recognize that the reform that so many seek requires that we take officers’ concerns seriously. This means, in turn, investing in officers’ wellness and sense of purpose, and creating a culture that will have a profound effect on both officers and residents of correctional facilities. This will in turn help to address recidivism and reincarceration. It’s a chain reaction that begins with empathy and understanding and extends to the very heart of the correctional system, fostering positive change from within. 

SPC was launched to help government leaders and decision-makers in this crucial transformation, understanding that it is very difficult, and some argue impossible, to do internally. By providing the tools, resources, and guidance on implementing dynamic security, we’re empowering leaders to create a new culture and strategies that prioritize mental, physical, and emotional health. 

Our vision is not confined to merely extending the lifespan of correctional staff; it is all-encompassing, aimed at enhancing the quality of life for everyone within the corrections ecosystem. Through specialized coaching and training, we empower officers to take pride and find genuine fulfillment in their roles. This, in turn, fosters collaborative and positive relationships with facility residents, moving us away from a culture rooted in fear or mistrust. Central to this comprehensive vision is officer wellness, serving as the cornerstone in our strategy to cultivate an environment rich in community, purpose, and holistic well-being. By engaging all stakeholders we’re crafting a system where officers, their families, and all involved in corrections reform can truly thrive. 

I’ve dedicated myself to SPC, implementing solutions that aim to make the system better, more humane. But as I approach 59, I can’t help but reflect on my own experience, and on my friends and colleagues who have either left the sector because of the stress or succumbed to it, turning to unhealthy choices to cope with the stress.  

The 19-year gap between 59 and 78 is not just a number—it’s a rallying cry. It’s a plea for awareness and reform. SPC is focused on helping leaders transition to a corrections culture that values the dignity and contributions of everyone involved, in a way that maintains security and greatly reduces the ill social effects of toxic facility environments.  

Join us—you won’t just be adding years to the lives of our dedicated officers; you’ll be adding life to their years. We’re dreaming of a future where faith, compassion, and support aren’t just taglines—they’re the cornerstone of what it means to serve and protect. 

Let’s build a corrections culture that feels like a community. A place where officers are more than just respected; they’re empowered, supported, and nurtured every single day. Imagine walking into work feeling driven by purpose, alight with passion, filled with gratitude, and ready to make a difference that counts. Together, we can make this dream a reality. 

In solidarity, 

Brian Koehn

Brian Koehn is the Founder and CEO of Social Profit Corrections.