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Correctional Officer Safety and Wellness Literature Synthesis

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2017
36 pages
Based on a literature review of research on correctional officers' (COs') safety and well-being and policies intended to improve COs' overall well-being, this report notes limitations in such research and offers recommendations for future research.
The literature review focused on research conducted since 2000 to account for current CO safety and wellness concerns, although some earlier research is referenced to provide a baseline understanding of the various issues related to CO safety and wellness. The review first distinguishes between "dangers" and "risks" to COs. According to Reichman (1986), risks involve the "uncertainty of loss, or the probability that loss will occur," and dangers are "those conditions which contribute to the probability of loss." This conceptual review is followed by an overview of the dangers and risks confronting COs. Dangers discussed are categorized as "work-related" (inmates with infectious diseases, prison gangs, disruptive inmate behavior, contraband presence, inmates with mental illnesses, and riots); "institution-related" (role ambiguity/role conflict, demanding work obligations, poor leadership/trust/support, no input into decisionmaking, inadequate resources, inadequate employment benefits, extended hours, co-workers conflict, and understaffing); and "psycho-social" (work/family conflict and media/political scrutiny). Risks are categorized as "mental health" (stress and burnout) and "physical health" (injuries and death). Another section of the report discusses COs' perceptions of workplace safety and wellness, followed by an outline of the consequences of risks to CO safety and wellness. The report's concluding section addresses policies that support correctional officer safety and wellness, and considerations for future research on this topic. 1 table and a listing of the 114 works cited

Date Published: July 1, 2017