Correctional Officers





Correctional Officers

Correctional officers are a crucial part of the prison system. They perform multiple roles within the correctional centers, such as carrying out searches, breaking up fights and disputes, enforcing rules, maintaining order, among many others. In the course of duty, these officers are exposed to multiple threats to their physical and mental wellbeing. The incarcerated population in the United States has grown exponentially over the years, meaning that each prison holds many inmates at a time. For example, Rikers in New York holds more than 10000 inmates at a time. A significant percentage of these inmates, up to sixty percent, are violent offenders. This puts the correctional officers at significant physical risk as they carry out their duties. Officers are attacked on the job, leading to both non-fatal and fatal injuries. Between 1999 and 2008, 113 officers lost their lives due to attacks in the line of duty. These grim statistics led to the study of some of the threats that correctional officers are exposed to at work and policy recommendations to address the situations.

Officer Graham from the YouTube video takes viewers through a typical morning at Rikers solitary confinement unit. He explains that he is aware of the danger that he faces every day he comes to work. The officers feed the prisoners, and in the video, one of the inmates is seen throwing fecal matter and urine at the officer (ABC News 2:25). This act shows the kind of experiences that correctional officers go through. Officer Graham also explains the physical danger he faces dealing with multiple violent offenders in the prison. A study done by the National Institute of Justice outlines the challenges that correctional officers face. These include exposure to infectious diseases by infected inmates, riots, gangs, inadequate resources, stress, injury, and death (Ferdik & Smith 6). Their job affects every aspect of their life, including family and mental wellbeing.

To address these challenges, the article outlines some policies recommended to promote correctional officers’ safety and wellbeing. One of the most effective interventions is a peer program where colleagues can offer support to officers experiencing trauma at their jobs (Ferdik & Smith 16). Such kind of counseling is especially useful because the peer officer understands the experiences of the other officers. An example of this is the Critical Incident Stress Management Program in Pennsylvania. Another valuable policy to deal with the dangers faced by correctional officers is Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These programs provide various services to officers that help them with their every-day challenges. Some of the services offered by EAPs include referring officers to treatment providers, confidential provision of necessary help, and assisting leaders to manage troubled employees (Ferdik & Smith 17). Correctional officers have many concerns in their line of work, which can create disputes and dissatisfaction. EAPs also help with this by discussing any such concerns with officers and leaders in the prison management system. These programs designed to promote the wellbeing of correctional officers will go a long way in improving their safety and wellness at work. However, there needs to be more intervention, such as adequate staffing for prisons so that officers have a manageable workload.

Works Cited

ABC News. “Rikers Correction Officer | A Day in the Life.” YouTube. 19 May 2016. Retrieved from, Frank Valentino, and Hayden Smith. Correctional officer safety and wellness literature synthesis. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, 2017.