Research in corrections
The factors which contribute to correctional officer stress and the ways correctional agencies can help to reduce this stress were examined. Using the Occupational Research Questionnaire (ORQ), the stressors investigated were shift work, overtime demands, risk of being injured, not enough time with family, work overload and work underload, role conflict, lack of administrative support, lack of proper training, lack of participation in decision making, lack of job satisfaction, interaction with inmates, crisis situations, insufficient salary, role ambiguity, and immediate supervisor. The coping strategies utilized by the correctional officer as evaluated by the Carver COPE tool were: get rid of the problem, let out my emotions, seek support from family, seek advice about what to do, seek spiritual help, wait and not overreact, typically become emotionally distressed, exercise, use alcohol, smoke, or use other drugs, try to see it in a different light (make it positive), criticize myself, come up with a strategy to improve situation, seek therapy, go to the movies, watch television, read, sleep, etc., learn to live with it, or meditate. “Officer’s response to questions about stress and resulting coping strategies discovered insufficient salaries and overtime demands were the two most commonly reported causes of stress. Additionally, certain types of stressors accentuated the plight of the correctional officer, e.g. lack of input into decision making, prison’s security level, lack of support from administrations, etc. … Moreover, specific questions were analyzed to determine the most frequently reported relaxation techniques used to cope with stress. The most popular methods were exercising and seeking religion. Other popular coping mechanisms used were seeking support from family, and participating in social activities” (p. iv).
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).
“CJ-DATS (the national Criminal Justice Drug Abuse Treatment Studies) was created in 2002 with the goal of improving both the public health and public safety outcomes for substance abusing offenders leaving prison or jail and returning to the community by integrating substance abuse treatment into the criminal justice system.” Access points on this webpage are: CJ-DATS-II research centers; CJ-DATS-II studies—Medication-Assisted Treatment Implementation in Community Correctional Environments (MATICCE), HIV Services and Treatment Implementation in Corrections (HIV-STIC), and Assessment Organizational Process Improvement Intervention (OPII); CJ-DATS-I research centers; CJ-DATS-I studies—adolescent interventions; CJ-DATS-I studies—assessing offender problems; CJ-DATS-I studies—HIV and hepatitis risk reduction; CJ-DATS-I studies—linking criminal justice and drug abuse; CJ-DATS-I studies—measuring progress in treatment and recovery; CJ-DATS-I studies—understanding systems; and CJ-DATS bibliography.
The Juvenile Justice Research-to-Practice Implementation Resources provide juvenile justice agency managers, staff, and other practitioners with concrete strategies, tools, examples, and best-practice models to help them implement research-based policies and practices and improve outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system. Resources are available for Family Engagement and Involvement, and Evidence-Based Programs and Services.
The instrumental use of evidence-based research for influencing the passage of reform efforts affecting the juvenile justice system in Ohio is explained. “Many states across the country face the challenges posed by young people in the juvenile justice system. Ohio is among the few states that has created and implemented innovative funding strategies and relied on research and evaluation to improve its approach” (p. i). Sections following an executive summary are: introduction—case study as a learning tool and overview of partners and policy change with a focus on child well-being; leveraging the policy window—political climate, juvenile justice landscape in Ohio pre-reform and key stakeholders; juvenile justice as a compelling social problem—the role of policy research in making the case for reform; agenda-setting and framing solutions to “invest in what works”—using research to inform a policy reform plan; spheres of influence model—core team and collaborative strategy for juvenile justice policy reform; juvenile justice policies achieved within House Bill 86 reflect research-based, child development, and well-being perspective; and principles and implications for future policy reform efforts.
This publication "contains invited articles on community corrections, with special emphasis on successful implementation strategies. A common thread that runs through these articles relates to what is needed to better ensure fidelity to evidence-based practices in community supervision and treatment. The research and implementation strategies shared by the authors should provide greater guidance to agency and program administrators working to assimilate evidence-based practices into their organizations" (p. 1). Articles include: "Current Practice and Challenges in Evidence-Based Community Corrections" by Stephen M. Haas; "STICS: From Pilot Project to Wide-Scale Implementation" - review; "Motivational Interviewing Proficiency in Corrections" – review; "Ohio Youth Assessment System – Creation, Validation, and Implementation" – review; "Actuarial Risk/Need Assessment and Its Effect on Supervision Revocation" – review; and "Establishing the Proper Risk-Dosage Relationship" – review. Each review explains: why the study was done; what the program was and what the researchers did; what the researchers found; and what the implications are of the study for policy making. Also included are two review essays. "Review Essay: Implementing EBP in Community Corrections" discusses what works, EBP models, planned change, and dosage. "Review Essay: Moving Implementation of EBP Forward" looks at three challenges to implementing EBPs in community corrections programming.
Access is provided to three interactive dashboards from the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections—Admissions to Prison, Releases from Prison, and Prison Point-in-Time Populations. These are great examples of what your agency could do with the operational data you collect.