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Race and Disciplinary Reports: An Empirical Study of Correctional Officers

NCJ Number
Sociological Spectrum Volume: 20 Issue: 2 Dated: April-June 2000 Pages: 169-194
Marianne Fisher-Giorlando; Shanhe Jiang
Date Published
April 2000
26 pages
This study examines the likelihood of one racial group of correctional officers writing more disciplinary reports than another and examines interracial and intraracial disciplinary reports.
The study uses two theoretical models to explain why correctional officers use official write-ups to control prisoners. The importation model emphasizes the impact of individual factors on correctional officers’ behavior and the institutionalization model stresses the effect of organizational factors. Both models assume some kind of correctional officer subculture which includes an informal but uniform set of rules about attitudes and behaviors in officers’ work with inmates. The old, generally white, guard force had a negative attitude toward all inmates, but acted in a particularly discriminatory fashion toward black inmates. Data collected for the study from 115 correctional officers disclosed no significant differences in black and white officers’ writing of inmate disciplinary reports, and no significant differences between interracial and intraracial disciplinary reports. These findings may reflect the increased racial and gender integration of the correctional officer workforce. The article discusses in detail other possibly relevant institutional factors. Notes, tables, references