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Agents of Change or Control? Correlates of Positive and Negative Staff-inmate Relationships among a Sample of Formerly Incarcerated Inmates

NCJ Number
Corrections Volume: 7 Issue: 3 Dated: May 2022 Pages: 175-195
Date Published
May 2022
21 pages

The authors provide an assessment of their research into the key factors that influence the nature of staff-inmate interactions; they present details of their research methodology and outcomes.


Prior studies of staff-inmate interactions suggest that they are primarily adversarial in nature. However, less is known about the key factors that influence inmate-staff relationships. Using a sample of formerly incarcerated males in the state of Ohio, the authors discuss the impact of various demographic and institutional characteristics on positive and negative perceptions of correctional staff by inmates. Specifically, the authors report on their employment of ordinary least squares (OLS) regression to examine the variation in perceptions that is accounted for by measures of the inmates’ social, demographic, and criminal histories (i.e., imported characteristics) as well as the characteristics of the facilities in which they are housed (i.e., deprivation measures). Individual characteristics exert significant effects on inmate perceptions of staff, whereby younger inmates, minority inmates, inmates with higher levels of education, and inmates with more extensive criminal histories were more likely to hold more negative views of correctional staff. Institutional characteristics also significantly influence inmate perceptions of staff, whereby inmates who have experienced victimization, received less social support, and participated in treatment programs were more likely to hold more negative views of correctional staff. Findings suggest that staff can serve as either agents of change or control for inmates. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: May 1, 2022