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Improving Correctional Officer Wellness Through a Multifaceted Approach (Case Study)

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2014
4 pages
The U.S. Justice Department's Office of Justice Program's Diagnostic Center presents a case study of data-driven programs and practices recommended to address the causes of three suicides in 3 years (2010-2012) among correctional officers in the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office (Massachusetts), along with 45 staff fatalities over the past 30 years, with 24 percent of these being suicides.
The Diagnostic Center conducted a literature review to identify effective programs and practices for addressing correctional officer stress and wellness. Although empirical research on programs that address correctional officer stress and wellness was found to be limited, the Diagnostic Center recommended the creation of critical incident response teams, employee assistance programs (EAP), peer support programs, training that addresses wellness and safety issues, and organizational practices that improve officer wellness. The Sheriff assumed the leadership role in focusing on improving correctional officer wellness ad safety. Working with the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Sheriffs'Association, the Middlesex Sheriff's Office (MSO) sponsored a conference on correctional officer wellness and safety in December 2012. The MSO sought to identify causes of job-related stressors and data-driven programs to improve correctional officer wellness and safety in its organization. Discovering that there were no national standards on this issue, in January 2013, the MSO approached the OJP Diagnostic Center for assistance in identifying and alleviating the causes of workplace stress. The Diagnostic Center is a technical assistance resource committed to building community capacity to use data in making short-term and long-term evidence-based decisions about criminal justice and public safety.

Date Published: November 1, 2014