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Conceptualizing the Personal Touch Experiential Knowledge and Gendered Strategies in Community Supervision Work

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography Volume: 3 Issue: 48 Dated: 2019 Pages: 311-338
Date Published
May 2019
28 pages
Drawing on in-depth interviews conducted with California state parole agents and county probation officers as part of a larger ethnographic inquiry of prisoner reentry, this article applies a feminist lens in analyzing how workers leverage personal aspects of themselves that they value in managing the challenges of their work.

Tasked with a fractured institutional mandate of ensuring public safety while facilitating the rehabilitation of their criminalized clients, community supervision workers exercise a considerable amount of discretion in ways to achieve these goals; however, little is known about these workers' strategies for doing so, which are informed by experiential knowledge and social identitieswhat the author calls the "personal touch." The findings of the interviews conducted for this article show how probation and parole officers use a "personal touch" to connect with clients in meaningful ways, as well as how these approaches are built on normative assumptions about gender. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: May 1, 2019