Stress and the Correctional Officer

Stress and the Correctional Officer

Stress and the Correctional Officer

Stress and the Correctional Officer


Dial examines correctional officer stress and job satisfaction. The book is divided into five sections:

  1. Overview of Corrections and the Correctional Officer
  2. The Backbone of Today’s Correctional Institution: The Correctional Officer
  3. Theories of Correctional Officer Roles, Stress, and Job Satisfaction
  4. The Results of the Current Study
  5. Implications for Policy and Future Research.

The main goal is to expose the reader to what is known about correctional officer and correctional officer stress and to present the results of a recent study examining correctional officers in a large correctional system in the United States. Emphasis is on practical policy and research implications for correctional agencies, students and academics. Dial points to the need for correctional officers to have greater access to a variety of resources to cope with and manage the demands of a highly stressful job.


Corrections is a term used to describe the part of the criminal justice system that carries out the sentence imposed by the courts. This function of the criminal justice system is comprised of many parts including but not limited to correctional institutions, probation and parole, day reporting centers, electronic monitoring programs, boot camps and halfway houses. This chapter will focus mainly on correctional institutions and their history and will also introduce the main employee in the correctional world: the correctional officer. In some cases this individual is also known by other names, such as “jailer” or “detention officer.” While the names may be different, the type of job and the tasks they carry out are very similar.

In America, incarceration is one of the main ways that we punish offenders who have broken the law. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 2,304,115 persons were incarcerated in a jail, state or federal prison facility by the end of 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 500,000 people employed as correctional officers in the United States (BLS, 2006). Clearly, correctional facilities, and how they are operated, impact millions of lives including the offenders, staff, family members of both these groups, and the public. In many ways, correctional institutions appear to be their own unique world with smells, sounds, and a language that is unlike any other. In 1961, Erving Goffman outlined the concept of the . . .

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