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Focus Program, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
65 pages
The Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) received grant funds from the National Institute of Justice in 1998 to provide employee assistance program services to DOC employees, and the FOCUS (Families, Officers, and Corrections Understanding Stress) program was specifically designed to increase awareness of personal and work stress and to present ways of managing stress.
The program involved a series of 1-hour workshops at correctional facilities in Connecticut that covered such topics as active parenting skills, stress management, effective communication skills, and high risk lifestyles. More in-depth sessions were then held to address stress management and the particular needs of correctional personnel and their families. In addition, educational brochures were prepared based on the life cycle of a correctional officer. An evaluation of the program was based on a survey consisting of 352 questions that measured burnout, management environment, job satisfaction, correctional officer life satisfaction, potential outcomes of prison work, and self-evaluation. The DOC had about 4,100 correctional officers, and the decision was made to allow time for each correctional officer to complete a survey evaluating the program while on duty. Initial survey results from approximately 50 percent of the correctional officers showed a high level of dissatisfaction with management and distrust and dissatisfaction about how correctional officers were treated during internal investigations. More detailed information was obtained from 1,150 correctional officers. Findings showed many correctional officers identified stress as the reason why other parts of their lives had gotten out of control. Correctional officer scores on emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment did not indicate a high degree of burnout. Responses to questions on the management environment (administration, supervision, mission and goals, perceptions of change, communication, and absenteeism) indicated a mid-range level of satisfaction in these areas. Overall job satisfaction of correctional officers was slightly higher than the mid-range. Correctional officers also provided information on stressful events and situations in their work and personal lives, and this information emphasized the prevalence of physiological and emotional depression and lack of coping strategies. The FOCUS program was designed to meet the needs of correctional officers that would deal with conflict, communication, and stress management. The Connecticut DOC plans to continue the FOCUS program as an effective employee assistance program for correctional officers. Program materials and handouts, survey and training forms, and brochures are included.

Date Published: January 1, 2001