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NCJ Number
J F Campbell
Date Published
173 pages
The experience of being taken hostage and the subsequent recovery process were studied from the points of view of 12 correctional guards who were taken hostage during prison riots in New York State.
The participants were all males between ages 28 and 62 who were involved in prison riots in New York State between 1970 and 1983. The study used a qualitative research methodology and gathered data by means of detailed, flexible interviews. Findings revealed that the participants were deeply affected by their experiences as hostages. Their symptoms included anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, irritability, and relationship problems. Although most symptoms subsided over time, the hostage survivors experienced an enduring anger at prison and State officials. For some, these feelings were associated with a continuing mistrust and suspicion of correctional authorities. Participants also perceived some beneficial effects, including more empathy for the suffering of others, more of a commitment to important relationships, greater confidence in their ability to overcome adversity, and a desire to live their lives more fully. All had returned to correctional work. Findings indicate the need for mental health professionals to recognize individual differences in perception and coping with trauma, providing information and education, providing outreach to victims as early as possible, encouraging natural support systems, and providing for long-term follow-up and access to services. Appended text of sample interview, index, and 122 references