Correctional Officer Perceptions of Inmate Mental Health: Correlations with Job Satisfaction, Emotional Labor, Perceptions of Inmates, and Interactions with Inmates

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George, Maegan
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
Correctional officers are integral to the criminal justice system by keeping inmates detained, secure, and healthy (Dvoskin & Spiers, 2004). Likewise, correctional officers also have a unique opportunity to influence inmates due to their frequent and prolonged interactions (Dvoskin & Spiers, 2004). However, inmate populations are increasing and the rate of mental illness among inmates is also increasing (US Department of Justice, 2011). This can impact job satisfaction and work demands as well as carryover into the personal life of the officer. A larger portion of the limited research on correctional officers focuses on individual factors, work environment factors, and organizational factors. However, there is a lack of research on the interactions between correctional officers and inmates, specifically interactions between correctional services and mentally ill inmates. This thesis seeks to investigate correctional officer-inmate interactions and the correlation with job satisfaction and work demands. I hypothesize that officers with high levels of job satisfaction and low work demand will have a positive influence on inmates, specifically on their mental health. This research will assist in developing literature on interactions between correctional officers and inmates as well as literature on correctional officer job satisfaction and work demands.