This article discusses the costs and benefits of stress reduction programs for correctional officers.
The National Institute of Justice's Corrections and Law Enforcement Family Support (CLEFS) program has been funding research, publishing articles, and evaluating stress reduction programs since 1994. There are three basic categories of stress reduction programs: (1) in-house programs that are operated by correctional agencies; (2) independent contracted services provided by outside agencies; and (3) hybrid programs that combine in-house services with contracted services from outside agencies. These programs help correctional officers cope with job stressors caused by inconsistent discipline and enforcement of rules, poor communication regarding rules, and a lack of support from supervisors. The three main benefits of stress reduction programs are that they save money, they improve employee performance, and they increase workplace safety by reducing stress-related distractions. The costs of stress reduction programs are difficult to ascertain because of typical cost-sharing plans and in-kind contributions. Stress reduction programs are thought to be worth their costs because they reduce early retirement among officers and help officers through critical incidents.