Stress and the Correctional Officer.

Author:Pence, Richard
Position:Book review

Stress and the Correctional Officer, by Kelly Cheeseman-Dial, LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC, El Paso, Texas, 2010, 166 pp.


The charge of the correctional officer is to keep the public safe by controlling the actions and movements of all inmates within their responsibility. These duties may include the prevention of any breaches in security (i.e., from outside or inside escape attempts), preventing bodily injuries of both the inmate population and staff, ensuring against any property damage, and being capable of rapidly adapting to any other medical or security threat that may unfold around them. With the almost-daily policy changes introducing constant changes in an officer's defined role, an unstable environment can understandably lead to confusion, stress and even burnout. While the administrative view is to create new and improved policy initiatives, their dissociation with an employee's plight to multiple undefined work stresses will serve to undermine their departmental homeostasis. In "Stress and the Correctional Officer," Kelly Cheeseman-Dial addresses these issues that make an officer's job unstable and difficult.

The author begins the first chapter with a brief history of what constitutes a correctional institution and how it has changed from its early conception into the system in use today. Earlier prisoner punishment ideas started out with such methods as physical corporal punishment and punishment stocks in public areas, prison ships, and even wet and dark underground cells. In addition, she explains how various court cases and legal changes shaped the modern prison system of reform, beginning with the Quaker Codes, which established one of the earliest examples of humane treatment, and moving on to legislative rulings and lawsuit hearings, focusing on aspects of prison life such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. With these changes in operational concerns come also the physical institution changes that reflect the time period of their construction and the necessity to provide the space to perform current and expected correctional operations.

In Chapter 2, the author reviews the historical significance of correctional officers on the criminal justice system. A lot has changed since the early days when "guards were given a set of keys and told to guard a cellblock." The guard system has been replaced with a correctional officer system. With the founding of the American Correctional Association, Cheeseman-Dial...

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