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Is Race a Factor in Saying 'I Ain't Working Here No More': Exploring Retention Among Arkansas Correctional Officers

NCJ Number
Corrections Management Quarterly Volume: 4 Issue: 1 Dated: 2000 Pages: 64-74
Allan L. Patenaude; James W. Golden
Date Published
11 pages
During 1997 the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) experienced a departure rate of 42.4 percent among correctional officers, a rate that exceeded both Southern and national rates; this article reports on a study that examined work-related attitudes of ADC's 1,680 correctional officers.
The primary issue addressed in this research was whether race is a factor in correctional officer (CO) retention. When the demographics of race/ethnicity for COs were examined for 1996 and 1997, it was found that the CO workforce was 41.6 percent Caucasian and 58.1 percent African American in 1996; during 1997 these figures increased to 62.8 percent African Americans and decreased to 37.2 percent Caucasians. This shows that more Caucasian officers were departing than were African Americans. The survey addressed COs' attitudes toward their job satisfaction, pay and benefits, job stress and dangerousness, supervision and management, and job training and professional development. The impact of the race of COs and how they affect CO decisions to remain with ADC was explored. The survey found that perceptions of inadequate pay and benefits as well as poor supervision impact the career orientation of COs in Arkansas more than the issue of race. In order to adequately examine the impact of race on CO decisions to leave the profession, however, additional data must be collected by the correctional agency, and additional research must be undertaken. 1 table and 45 references