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Climate, Culture, and Correction Officer Wellness

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $960,132)

Statement of the Problem:

The dismal picture emerging of departments of correction across the country burdened with a host of concerning issues, particularly in terms of recruiting and retaining staff have compelled administrators to elevate workforce-related issues as a top priority. In the proposed study, we are fundamentally interested in using almost a decade of research findings to promote and sustain organizational culture change. We contend that correction work as currently structured with its over-reliance on seniority and hierarchical decision making, uncompromising shiftwork schedules, forced overtime, and obscure disciplinary processes, elicits and sustains a subculture that negatively affect officers’ wellbeing. We propose to conduct a four-year study evaluating the implementation of planned changes designed to fundamentally shift entrenched occupational policies and procedures and the impact of that organizational change on officer health and wellness.



The department has 2,732 sworn correctional officers. We will randomly sample 400 officers from across seven medium and one maximum security facility. Qualitative data will be collected from 15 focus groups with officers from select facilities.



This research will be conducted in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Correction and the Massachusetts Confederated Officers’ Federated Union.


Research Design and Methods:

The study design will allow our research team to follow the implementation of these strategies, examining change among officers at a pilot experimental facility in comparison with officers across the department. The quasi-experimental cohort control group design incorporates a pretest and post-test assessing whether the intervention strategies enhance the culture and climate. We will employ a participatory action research design model where stakeholders are involved in the iterative process of inquiry, data collection, and data-informed decision making.



A series of quantitative analyses will complement the qualitative component, beginning with descriptive statistics for background characteristics and repeated measures ANOVA to assess change over time. Our analyses will need to capture not only variation between individuals, but also within individuals over time. Multilevel modeling will be capable of uncovering relationships across subjects and over time, taking full advantage of the breadth and richness of the data collected.


Products Reports and Data Archiving:

We anticipate that these findings will inform the development of interventions tailored to the unique exposures and specific needs of correction officers. In addition to submitting a final report and archiving our final dataset at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, we will publish our research for academic, practitioner, and public audiences.

Date Created: January 4, 2024