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Correctional Officer Safety and Wellness - What We Learned From the Research Literature

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2017
2 pages

This article summarizes a paper ("Correctional Officer Safety and Wellness Literature Synthesis") that identifies risks correctional officers (COs) confront, assesses officers' perspectives on workplace risk, notes key limitations in the research literature on correctional officer safety and well-being, and recommends policies for improving COs' well-being.


Research documents the dangers faced by COs in correctional institutions. Based on the research review, three broad categories of dangers confronted by COs are identified: work-related, institution-related, and psycho-social risks. The risk to CO safety and well-being in these three areas range from gang-related threats and inmate contraband to demanding work requirements and work-related family conflicts. In the face of such dangers and risks, COs are required to do more with fewer resources, which also increases their risk for mental health issues. Such an environment causes higher CO stress levels, which can lead to diminished work performance, burnout, and absenteeism. This research review also reports on various policies and programs that have been developed across prison facilities in order to improve COs' well-being; however, few of these programs have been scientifically evaluated for effectiveness and outcomes. The paper notes that improvement in CO health starts by changing the mindset of correctional institution administrators and other stakeholders in the corrections field. They are encouraged to consider policy interventions designed to minimize the injury risks posed by various types of threats to officer safety. Six policies are recommended.

Date Published: July 1, 2017