Community supervision officers work with individuals under supervision for a sustained period of time, placing officers in a situation where they are exposed to considerable stress and secondary trauma. While a great deal of research has been conducted on risk/need factors and supervision outcomes of individuals served by these agencies, less is known about community supervision officers themselves and how they manage the stress associated with their position. This White Paper examines the stress experienced by community supervision officers.
Please see related publications: Community Supervision Staff Trauma and Organizational Stress Needs Assessment (033336) and Community Supervision Staff Trauma and Organizational Stress: Summary of Findings (033337)
This needs assessment was developed by Rulo Strategies LLC and the National Center for State Courts with the support of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC). The needs assessment was deployed as part of a cooperative agreement designed to develop responses to staff trauma and organizational stress in community supervision agencies. The information gathered in this assessment is designed to accomplish the following:
a) determine what strategies community supervision agencies are using to mitigate and respond to staff trauma, organizational stress, and build staff resiliency;
b) identify innovative and promising practices that can be replicated;
c) identify training or technical assistance needs that could be addressed with the support of NIC.
Please see related publications: Community Supervision Operational and Organizational Stress: White Paper (033335) and Community Supervision Staff Trauma and Organizational Stress: Summary of Findings (033337).
In 2021, Rulo Strategies, in collaboration with the National Center for State Courts, completed a literature review, the results of which were summarized in a white paper submitted to the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) in August 2021.
In addition to writing the white paper, the team conducted a needs assessment in April 2021.
This is a brief summary of the findings from both of those publications.
Please see related publications: Community Supervision Operational and Organizational Stress: White Paper (033335) and Community Supervision Staff Trauma and Organizational Stress Needs Assessment (033336).
Recognizing that corrections can be a tough profession, the National Institute of Corrections is at the forefront of Health and Wellness for Corrections Professionals. The NIC website has a wealth of resources on the topic including webinars, a virtual conference dedicated to the subject, as well as an Internet Broadcast called Corrections Stress: Peaks and Valleys. The literature on the subject reflects what those who work in the field already know anecdotally, that the job of a correctional officer is particularly stressful. Officers must contend with rotating work schedules, mandatory overtime, and possible assaults by and among offenders. The following articles and discussion provide an overview of what information is available on suicide by correctional officers and—to some extent—police officers, and the impact workplace stress can have on officers. In response to the literature search, officer wellness is discussed, along with some of the interventions recommended to prevent suicides and reduce corrections fatigue.
The field of corrections has long been recognized as a high stress profession. Previous research suggests that individuals who work in either institutional settings (i.e., prison, jail, juvenile detention) and/or community corrections (i.e., probation, parole, pretrial services) experience varying degrees of occupational, organizational, and traumatic stressors. If left unaddressed, corrections stress can lead to an assortment of personal and professional problems that could result in high staff turnover and vacancies, which in turn, jeopardize safety and effective programing. The National Institution of Corrections (NIC) invests in developing data-driven initiatives and solutions to assist jurisdictions in identifying and addressing the issues that contribute to corrections stress and create practices that help to maintain a healthy and productive work force. To guide development of initiatives and sustainable practices, KSL Research, Training, & Consultation LLC (KSL) conducted a needs assessment as part of a cooperative agreement with NIC. This assessment collected data from over 3,000 individuals across the United States who were employed in corrections. The assessment revealed several areas that NIC can potentially address through training and education programs.
Staff is the life blood of any agency and its most valuable resource. Their wellness is paramount to organizational health and mission effectiveness. What can individuals and organizations do to identify issues commonly associated with corrections stress and cultivate a climate of staff resilience and agency health, stability and excellence?
During this broadcast, we will: Acknowledge the effects and consequences of corrections stress on staff and the organization; Identify commonly referenced terminology that informs the discussion of corrections stress; Explore the context and continuum of stress within the corrections profession; Discuss research and knowledge focusing on corrections stress that effects the individual and organizational culture; Present proactive strategies to identify and address cumulative effects and consequences of corrections stress; Describe individual and organizational strategies to build and maintain a healthy workforce; Discuss proactive tools and resources for both individuals and organizations; [and] Provide individual and organizational resources to promote and support a healthy workforce.
This broadcast will answer the following questions: Why is corrections stress an issue we need to address? What are characteristics of corrections stress? What does it look and sound like? What are distinguishing features of corrections stress within institutional and community settings? How do you build awareness of this issue for yourself and your organization? How do you address the problems and effects associated with corrections stress? What are strategies to deal with stressors? How can leadership introduce this issue within the agency? Who needs to be at the table to discuss it? What resources are available to you and your organization to address this issue? Are you taking advantage of them? What are tools and strategies for engaging and connecting directly with your community stakeholders? What positive steps can you take to make a difference personally and within your organization regarding corrections stress?"
“The purpose of this study was to estimate prevalence rates for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and comorbid PTSD/depression in corrections professionals, and to explore the relationship between particular disorder conditions and a variety of variables including job type and numerous indices of health, well-being, and life functioning (e.g., number of doctor visits, number of absences from work, extent of substance use, satisfaction with life, job functioning, and other variables)” (p. 4). The total number of assessment items was 152 spread over four assessment tools: Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21); Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C); Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS); and the Impact on Functioning Scale (IOFS). Overall, 25.7% of the respondents were depressed with 67% of them having PSTD. Security/custody personnel had the highest rates with mental health care providers being second. Those individuals with comorbid PTSD/depression experienced the worst health-related outcomes.
This is the Final Summary of the findings and methodology of a component of a study that examined the impact on prisoners and corrections officers (COs) receiving and managing restrictive housing (RH) in America’s jails and prisons.
This three part series addresses the issue of corrections fatigue and how corrections staff can deal with it by developing "hazmat suits for their souls". A hazmat suit for the soul allows you to respond to the "hazardous materials" of daily stress and dangerous incidents during work and to "decontaminate" emotionally afterwards. Part One explains "complex trauma", how it can result in psychological symptoms, diagnostic psychiatric disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), adverse workplace performance, costs, and neurobiological changes. Part Two compares "negative resilience" and true resilience. It explains the need for corrections staff to seek "solid and enduring resilience is of primary importance, as literally lives may depend on it". Part Three explains how corrections staff can develop effective hazmat suits for the soul using prevention or intervention approaches. This part also describes four "categories of behavior (aka factors)" that can increase resilience in corrections staff. The factors are supportive staff relationship effects; self-care health maintenance efforts; confident/perseverant frame of mind; and controlled/logical problem-solving. NOTE: This set of articles was previously published in 2011, and have been updated and reprinted.
Issues surrounding stress in a correctional setting, like the effects, sources, and symptoms of stress, burnout, and coping strategies, are covered during this 6.5 hour course. Participants will be able to: define stress and identify the effects of stress; identify the sources of stress; identify the physical and behavioral symptoms of stress; define burnout and identify the stages of burnout; identify positive and negative coping strategies; summarize the key components of “My Pyramid”; recognize how thoughts, feelings, and attitudes lead to predictable patterns of behavior; practice “objective detachment” in observing and describing thoughts, feelings, and attitudes; and practice identifying stress-mitigating responses to work-related situations. Also included is the PowerPoint presentation, video vignettes, and participant handouts.