The Impact of Correctional Officer Perceptions of Inmates on Job Stress

Marcos Misis, Bitna Kim, Kelly Cheeseman, Nancy L. Hogan, Eric G. Lambert


Research suggests that job-related stress affects correctional officers’ attitudes toward their work environment, coworkers, and supervisors, as well as their physical and mental health; however, very few studies have examined the relationship between stress and attitudes toward inmates. This study examined the relationship between correctional officers’ levels of stress and their perceptions of inmates by surveying a sample of 501 correctional officers employed by a Southern prison system. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used to test the principal hypothesis of this study—that more negative perceptions of inmates would result in higher levels of stress for correctional officers. Independent variables were grouped into four groups (demographic variables, supervisory support, job characteristics, and attitudes toward inmates) and were entered into the model in blocks. Lower supervisory support and perceptions of the job being dangerous were associated with higher levels of job stress. More importantly, correctional officers who saw inmates as intimidated (not arrogant) and nonmanipulative reported lower levels of job stress, while officers who perceived inmates as being unfriendly, antisocial, and cold reported higher levels of stress.

  • correctional officers
  • job stress
  • perceptions of inmates
  • corrections
  • prisons

Article Notes

  • Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

  • Funding The author(s) received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.

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