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Improving Correctional Officer Wellness Through a Multifaceted Approach

"Seven staff fatalities including three suicides in just three years (2010-2012). For professionals who operate correction facilities, stress can be a significant issue with fatal consequences. The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) had 45 staff fatalities over the past 30 years. Twenty-four percent of these deaths were suicide. MSO believes the other deaths are tied to stress and wellness related health issues such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. MSO Sheriff Peter Koutoujian assumed the leadership role at this time and focused on improving correctional officer (CO) wellness and safety ... MSO approached the Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center for assistance understanding the contributors to CO work-related stressors. MSO’s goal was to identify and alleviate the causes of workplace stress to improve CO wellness and safety and reduce CO suicide through implementation of evidence-based programs and promising practices" (p. 1). This document describes the Center's analysis and recommendations. Sections of this case study include: overview; data-driven programs and practices recommended to address the issue; the Diagnostic Center; the diagnostic process; six factors contributing to the issue; descriptions and details of the recommended evidence-based programs and practices; Diagnostic Center's recommendations; impact and outcome; community's response; and insight gained.