This article describes the nature and effects of National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grants designed to address occupational stress experienced by correctional officers.
Under the 1994 Federal Law Enforcement Family Support program authorized by the U.S. Congress, NIJ -- the research, evaluation, and development arm of the U.S. Department of Justice -- was designated to award grants to State and local agencies and organizations to support research, demonstration, and evaluation projects on stress intervention methods. Grantees are now developing and demonstrating innovative stress treatment and training programs for officers and their families. Some are researching the nature and causes of officer stress, as well as effective methods for its early detection. Through grantees' work, knowledge is advancing in several key and previously understudied areas. These include the development, implementation, and coordination of services, the feasibility and efficacy of various program elements/strategies, the efficacy of specific approaches, and a basic understanding of officer and family stress. This article includes a description of the NIJ-funded FOCUS initiative in Connecticut, which was begun in 1998. FOCUS aims to help officers and their families learn how to better manage stress, improve family communication skills, enhance coping skills, and improve parenting skills. NIJ publications derived from grantee efforts are profiled.