In just four decades, the size of the U.S. state prison population grew by more than 700 percent. By 2008, the number of incarcerated individuals in the United States hit an all-time high, with 1 in 100 adults in either prison or jail and fully 1 in every 31 American adults under some form of correctional jurisdiction (including incarceration, probation, and parole).
Researchers have noted these patterns and trends with alarm. Yet while expansive studies have been conducted on correctional systems in the United States, most of this work begins and ends with a focus on the incarcerated. Much of the early literature either ignores correctional personnel altogether, or paints an overly simplistic picture. While interest in those who work inside American prisons has begun to grow, we still know surprisingly little about what happens to correctional personnel as a function of spending a career inside the prison system.