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Correctional Officer Life Expectancy

posted this on June 11, 2010, 9:57 AM

Last Updated November 2013

What is the life expectancy of a career Correctional Officer?


We receive this question frequently; however, it is not an easy statistic to locate. Here is the response we have provided to similar requests.....

We never could pin this down as coming from an NIC publication, even though Wikipedia says it did. There was an old study done in 1982 by F. Cheek around stress that documented age 59 as average life span, and that line was probably quoted in either an NIC publication or at a conference panel in 2008, but it is hard to pin it down. There doesn't seem to be much in terms of more current research.

Testimony by witness William Hepner at Prison Commission hearings:

and here is the age 59 quote:

"Cheek (1982) reports that C.O.s have an average life span of fifty-nine years compared to a national average of seventy-five years"

Websource for the above:


and from Correctional Service of Canada (2009):

Florida Mortality Study:  Florida Law Enforcement and Corrections Officers Compared to Florida General Population  -  2011




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Harold Gee

Thank you for the help, Joshua.  I realize this is a difficult statistic to pin down and finding current information (within the past 5 years) is next to impossible.

June 11, 2010, 4:29 PM
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James Thompson

I remeber in one of my classes in College and then again at the correctional officer academy back in the early 80's the number that was being tossed around then and I think is pretty much true even today is TWO or THREE years after retirement.

The sad fact that we in corrections and Law Enforcement in general do not take better care of ourselvs. A great training Video for every agency to watch is one called Emotional Survivor!


July 14, 2012, 10:34 AM
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Harold Gee

CalPERS did a study on mortality rates for it's retirees.  It's called an "Experience Study," and it pegged the average mortality of Peace Officers at +/- 2 years of EVERYONE ELSE.  This could be due to a variety of reasons (better health care, lower retirement age, better lifestyle, etc.) but the data was from 2009, I believe.  I'll try and find the link and post it.

July 14, 2012, 11:49 PM