Correctional professionals have an inherently stressful job. But what is all this stress doing to their bodies and minds? In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice commissioned a literature review to shine a light on this very topic. Dr. Jamie Brower, Psy.D., took to looking at all the areas that Correctional Officers encounter stress in their daily jobs. The review was aptly named: Correctional Officer Wellness and Safety Literature Review. The review draws attention to these areas: Inmate-Related Stressors, Occupational Stressors, Organizational and Administrative Stressors, Psycho-Social Stressors (Brower, 2013).
So basically, there are very few aspects of the job that do not affect the stress and safety of a correctional officer. That’s the bad news. The Good news is there are things that can help. Specifically, a program/ training called: Creating Regulation and Resilience– CR/2 for short. This training is a “staff communication model designed to foster productive interactions with justice-involved clients’’. (ORBIS, 2020) Within the CR/2 model there are 2 phase- first staff are encouraged to use strategies (grounding, breathing, etc.) to build their regulation (calm & balance). Second, is to create resilience- meaning, engaging in effective action (ORBIS, 2020). An example of this would be successfully getting a non-compliant inmate to lock in because of your calm and direct approach, instead of it becoming a screaming match and possibly needing to go hands-on.
You can clearly see how the two approaches – the clam vs. the screaming, would have completely different affects on the human body. One of the biggest components to the CR/2 model is Staff self-care. The review stated that the average life span of correctional officers, at 59 years of age, is 16 years lower than the national average (Brower, 2013). That’s almost unbelievable. They also found that 31% of CO’s reported having serious psychological distress, that’s twice the national average (Brower, 2013)!
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 424,000 Correctional Officers in the United States as of May, 2019 (www.bls.gov). So with that said- 31% of that is 131,440 with serious psychological disorders- that are job related only! My hope is now that there is literature and the stress and all that comes with working in that kind of environment, is being acknowledge- more programs like CR/2 will become more widely accepted and used in both Jail and Correctional environments. The outcomes not only effect the officers, but the clients they serve.
Brower, Jamie, Psy.D., ABPP. National Institute of Corrections: Correctional Officer Wellness and Safety Literature Review (2013). Retrieved 6/2020 from: https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=266912
ORBIS partners. Creating Regulation and Resilience, CR/2. Retrieved 6/2020 from : https://www.orbispartners.com/corrections-staff-training-cr2United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019. Correctional Officers and Jailers. Retrieved 6/2020 from: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333012.htm