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Roles and Challenges of Correction Officers

Roles and Challenges of Correction Officers

All law enforcement systems, including the prisons, have a modeled hierarchy. Prisons are divided into regions that a regional director leads. He oversees operations and policies in the prison institutions in their territory. The directors are the highest in the Bureau of Prisons executive staff hierarchy. They occasionally tour the prison facilities and rarely interact with the prisoners. Most of the directors are people who once worked in other levels of leadership in the prisons. The local management of the prison is made up of wardens. Wardens have a different style in management; some manage by making rounds walking in prison. They make time to talk to prisoners, and they are present during meals, which are commonly referred to as standing mainline by the wardens. If a prisoner has important issues and grievances to discuss, they are free to approach a warden or other mainland prisoners. The executive staff is the prison staff above the warden. They serve and shadow the wardens. After a prisoner visits a warden, the executive staff listens and makes notes of the grievances. Many prisoners do not have a reason to interact with an executive assistant. They are authorized to talk to media representatives.

Associate wardens are beneath the wardens and help the warden manage some prison aspects. A prison has associate wardens if the prisoners held in the institution are many. They are available to talk to inmates and also stand at the mainline. Prisons have departments, and a department head leads every department. They are more accessible to prisoners (Schmalleger, 2016). Some department heads include unit managers, supervisors of education, supervisors of health care, captains, and supervisors of facilities. Each department head has staff members working beneath them. It is impractical for wardens to know each prisoner in an institution holding thousands of people. People are assigned into small and manageable groups in prison; it maintains control. The unit team management system has staff members who are in constant contact with the prisoners. The housing units are under the unit manager. Case managers are assigned a prisoner’s caseload and are responsible for monitoring their progress. Case managers keep track of the prisoner’s release date, classification scoring, and custody.  If a prisoner wants to be transferred to another facility, the case managers initiate their request. They prepare a prisoner’s progress report every three years- to record the prisoner’s status changes. Counselors oversee the visiting list and the work details of the prisoners. They also monitor compliance with the financial responsibility plan, oversee the sanitation unit, participate in the unit disciplinary committee, assign quarters, and take care of mail-outs of packages.

Correctional officers have a significant role in the disciplinary unit. They determine the running of the institution and the treatment of prisoners. The goal of the correctional staff is deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation, and retribution. The rehabilitation of prisoners is crucial because it gives them an excellent chance to reenter society after their sentences.  They help the offender to be able to work and build a meaningful life. It reduces the number of released prisoners who find themselves in crime and return to prison or correctional facilities. Deterrence is fundamental in security relations. It is a theory that prevents people from committing crimes for fear of punishment. With deterrence, after prisoners are released, they do not commit other crimes and do not end up in prison. Correctional officers incapacitate criminals from committing a crime by removing them from society. Incapacitation is vital in reducing crimes in a community. Retribution is about ensuring every guilty criminal is punished for their offenses, the innocent in the community is protected, and the balance in society is restored. Correctional officers ensure that any offenders are imprisoned and that they face the correct sentence and punishment while in prison. Retribution gives offenders the dessert they deserve.

In a correctional facility, five types of power are exercised. They include expert, referent, legitimate, coercive, and reward power. Legitimate power is considered to be the position of power. Correctional staff have authority over prisoners just because they are in the position of correctional staff. It gives the staff authority to lead and control the daily activities of the inmates (Crewe, 2012). Inmates submit to the legitimate power of the correctional staff, which is the most practiced authority in prisons. Referent power is the authority that comes with respect and trust. Officers who do not abuse or corrupt inmates are viewed more like leaders by the prisoners. The referent power has a positive impact on the performance of the correctional staff. Expert power is the opinion of inmates concerning the ability of correctional staff to utilize their skills. It is essential because it is through it that inmates can seek help from the officer, or an officer can use their skills to help an inmate or influence them positively. It is gained over time through knowledge, skills, and experiences. Reward power is the rewarding power of an officer to an inmate for their cooperation and good deeds. It allows a positive relationship between the correctional officer and the inmate. Coercive power is the least used; it is backed by force and threats to comply with stubborn inmates.

Correctional officers or staff can be corrupt, just like any other profession. Corruption among correctional officers is mainly caused by adverse environmental factors. Negative factors include working with hostile staff members, constant threats of physical harm, and feeling unappreciated by the administration (Goldsmith et al., 2018). Corruption can also be due to the breakdown of an officer’s internal barometer of ethics. Typically, people have different reasons for not engaging in criminal or corrupt activities. The reasons can be their strong religious beliefs and values, solid parental upbringing, fear of prison, and the inner code in a human being that makes one know what is right and wrong. They keep one grounded to the right side. But, if any person loses the ability to differentiate right from wrong, they find themselves easily sliding to the wrong side of the law. When officers have lost the ethical barometer of right and wrong, legal and illegal, they can easily engage in corruption. They override personal morality, values, and abidance to the law. Corruption in correctional facilities involves the trafficking of drugs and contraband, misuse of one’s authority, and embezzlement.

Correctional officers can undergo stress. The symptoms include hypergenetic or lack of energy, lack of appetite, insomnia, absenteeism, alcoholism,  isolating oneself from family and friends, loss of memory, suicide, aggressiveness, inability to concentrate, and lack of pressure, hobbies, or pleasurable activities. Stress has long and short-term effects on a correctional officer. The consequences may include a declining commitment to the organization, burnout, deteriorating trust, and compassion fatigue (Finney et al., 2013). Stress can affect different officers for different reasons, but there are common causes. The continuous need to stay on guard because of consistent violent threats can be exhausting. When the prisons are overcrowded, there is a possibility of forming gangs that can be violent. Officers stay in prison for an entire shift and are limited on what to bring to work. For example, there are no phones allowed in prison. They cannot leave the correctional facility for meals or any breaks. The ambiguity of the occupation can cause stress.

Like any other workplace, there are no secrets in prison, and rumors spread out very fast, which can harm an officer severely. Perceived or really poor management and leadership in a correctional facility can cause stress to the officers. When there is no understanding or good communication from the administration, the officers are dissatisfied with their work.  Lack of good pay and benefits, performance evaluations that are not ideal, and lack of sufficient resources can cause stress to build up. Psycho-social factors can cause stress to an officer. The personality traits that are either too aggressive or passive may cause stress. It is stressful when an officer cannot adjust appropriately to situations (Bezerre & Constantino, 2016). Sometimes, a lack of good understanding of what the job entails by the correctional officer can cause stress. Lack of knowledge and misunderstanding by family and friends about a correctional officer’s job builds pressure on them. Financial and health issues can cause stress. The constant exposure to people in pain and the responsibility to protect the citizens’ lives can be draining.

There are effective ways that correctional officers can use to manage stress. Learning the law often and continuously is suitable for any officer. Most of the officers’ stressors are in the work environment. There are restrictions and laws that every officer should follow. The administration follows on them; hence not learning and reminding themselves of the laws can put pressure on them, especially during evaluations. Communication with friends in the workplace can be therapeutic. Most officers feel people do not understand them, but they should open up to their coworkers about the things that stress and cause burnout. A coworker can easily understand because they pass through the same challenges. A support system outside the correctional unit can be helpful. They may not narrate everyday activities to their family and friends, but they can notice when the officer is stressed or unhappy. Physical exercise is an essential measure in preventing burnout and stress. Good body fitness also helps in recovery after an injury. It is okay for correctional officers to seek psychological help if they feel something is wrong or stressed. Some problems need professional help and no pep talk with family and friends. Officers should prioritize sleep; enough sleep or working odd hours can be a stressor. It can be helpful to create a habit of gratitude. They should always see it as a privilege to serve and help people. Here are things beyond human control, so believing in something and having faith in a better future can help reduce stress.

References

Bezerra, C. D. M., Assis, S. G. D., & Constantino, P. (2016). Psychological distress and work stress in correctional officers: a literature review. Ciencia & saude coletiva21, 2135-2146.

Crewe, B. (2012). The prisoner society: Power, adaptation and social life in an English prison. OUP Oxford.

Finney, C., Stergiopoulos, E., Hensel, J., Bonato, S., & Dewa, C. S. (2013). Organizational stressors associated with job stress and burnout in correctional officers: a systematic review. BMC Public Health13(1), 1-13.

Goldsmith, A., Halsey, M., & de Vel-Palumbo, M. (2018). Literature review: Correctional corruption. Queensland Correctional Services. Adelaide: Flinders University Centre for Crime Policy and Research.

Schmalleger, F. (2016). Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the Twenty-first Century-Pearson.

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Question 


To successfully complete this assignment, you will need to:
Refer to Chapter 9, “The Staff World: Managing the Prison Population,” in your Corrections in the 21st Century textbook.
Use the Strayer University Library to conduct research on the role of corrections officers and the challenges they face.

The implications of generational culture changes on U.S. unionization

The implications of generational culture changes on U.S. unionization

The B.S. in Criminal Justice library guide is a good place to start your research.
Explore the Department of Corrections website for your state.
In your browser of choice, simply type the name of your state and Department of Corrections. For example, the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
Corrections is one potential career option for people studying or working in the criminal justice field. According to the textbook authors, career opportunities exist as many states face a shortage of correctional officers. Likewise, staff turnover is high (Schmalleger, 2021).
Before making such an important decision to pursue this type of career, you’ll want to educate yourself on the major responsibilities required of this role and the challenges these officers face on a daily basis. This assignment will give you the opportunity to do just that by writing a 3–5 page research paper on the roles and challenges of correctional officers.
Instructions

After reviewing this week’s textbook reading and conducting research on the roles and challenges of corrections officers, you are to write a 3–5 page research paper in which you:
Explain the correctional facility staff hierarchy and the four main goals of correctional staff members, including the importance of each goal.
Outline the effectiveness of the five types of power available to correctional staff to manage inmate behavior.
Describe the factors contributing to correctional officer corruption within correctional facilities.
Report on the symptoms of stress for correctional officers and the associated underlying factors.
Summarize the effectiveness of the methods correctional officers use to cope with stress.
Use three sources to support your writing.
Choose sources that are credible, relevant, and appropriate.
Cite each source listed on your source page at least one time within your assignment.
Access the Strayer University Library or review library guides for help with research, writing, and citation.
Formatting

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