Maintain cohesion against all outside groups. This tenet applies to members of the supervisory ranks, the outside public, the media, and even one’s own family. This tenet is based on the belief that the general public does not understand the pressures placed upon officers and that the media tend to be sym- pathetic to the plight of the inmate, not the officer. Officers do not wish to implicate their family members and also do not want them to fear for their safety; thus details are seldom disclosed. Further, the adminis- tration is not seen as trustworthy but instead is seen as being politically driven. Administrators care only about their careers and moving up the corporate ladder and are too far removed from the rank-and-file to still understand the complexities of the officer’s daily concerns. It is therefore better that officers not talk about what goes on in the institution to persons not within their ranks.
State Rankings Link 10.1 Correctional Officers and Jailers in 2009.
250 Introduction to Corrections
The above tenets, based on the work of Kauffman (1988), perhaps most clearly summarize the prison guard subculture. Again, this scheme may not be exactly as presented at all prisons, but in most larger and most older facilities, remnants of this thinking will have consensus among security staff.
As we have seen in prior chapters, numerous lawsuits emerged during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, with their aftermath greatly impacting the field of corrections in the 1990s as well as the current millen- nium. Prison systems had to modify and adjust their operations to be considered constitutional, and this required that these systems incorporate strong incentives for organizational change among their prison staff. An emphasis on professionalism emerged throughout the nation, and, as the War on Drugs resulted in a swelling inmate population, so too swelled the number of prison guards who were hired within state prisons. Indeed, the elimination of building tender and trusty supervision schemes used in many south- ern states necessitated the recruiting and hiring of prison security staff. Likewise, during the 1990s, the term prison guard became outdated and was replaced with the official job classification of correctional officer in many state prison systems. The American Correctional Association advocated for the profes- sionalization of correctional officers, and states began to adopt the standards set by that organization.
PROFESSIONALIZATION OF THE CORRECTIONAL OFFICER
During the 1970s, amidst the increase in hiring that began to take place, concern arose regarding the training and competency of correctional officers. Indeed, in 1973 the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals encouraged state legislators to take action to improve the educa- tion and training of correctional officers. Further, correctional administrators cited the need for security staff to study criminology and other disciplines that could aid in working with difficult populations. The National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals (1973) also indicated that “all new staff members should have at least 40 hours of orientation training during their first week on the job, and at least 60 hours additional training during their first year” (p. 494). This represents some of the first national-level attempts to mandate professional training and standards for correctional officers. Though these first steps were certainly headed in the correct direction, progress was slow. In 1978, it was deter- mined that only half of all states were actually meeting the 40-hour entry-level training requirement, and even fewer were meeting the recommended 60 hours of training during the officer’s first year.
The educational progress of correctional officers had not improved much during this time. Roughly 13% of the agencies did not even require a high school diploma, and the remaining 77% required only that— college was not even a remote consideration. Josi and Sechrest (1998), during a period when correctional officer standards were becoming a matter of priority, commented that “the job of correctional officer over
the years has not been seen as requiring education at even the high school level, much less beyond” (p. 9). This comment was made in 1998, which was only about 14 years prior to the writing of the current text. Given the importance of this type of work, it is clear that more intensive training should be provided to correctional officers, and it is also clear that the acquisition of higher education should be encouraged.
The American Correctional Association has, throughout the past decade, generated a major push for professionalization of the field of corrections. This has resulted in a pattern of steadily increasing entry-level educational requirements consistent with a broader trend toward correctional officer professionalism. However, the term professionalism itself has been touted about by various correctional systems with much of an attempt to articulate
Brittany Naron is completing her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice while employed as a correctional officer. She has also received POST- level training in corrections and completed internship experiences while working and attending college. Officer Naron was a student in one of the author’s courses.
Reference Link 10.1 Read about correctional
Chapter 10: Prison Subculture and Prison Gang Influence 251
what this specifically means. While corrections is pointed in a progressive direction, there is definitely much more work to be done. Further, given the widespread budget cuts common in many states throughout the nation, money and resources for improved training and educational standards may be lacking. Yet, this is at a time when it is needed the most. How well prison systems fare in the future is yet to be seen, but one thing is clear: A failure to train and educate this workforce will only ensure that the potential corrective efforts of prison systems are minimized, and this then creates a potential risk to the public safety of society as a whole.
RACIAL AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY
Prior to the 1980s, prisons tended to be in rural areas and to hire staff from within the local area. The demographics of correctional staff in the United States have changed greatly from the late 1980s to the current time. This change toward a more multicultural setting is reflected in broader society and most all criminal justice agencies. This trend toward multiculturalism and diversity will only continue, both with the staff who are employed and with the inmates who are supervised.
The diversity that has developed in the correctional workforce has followed, in step, the move toward professionalization of the correctional profession. Indeed, prior to this shift, women and minori- ties were considered a threat to the cohesion of the correctional work group. During this time, women and minorities were often not treated fairly in the working environment, being subject to discrimination and harassment. Many African American and Latino American correctional staff reported bias in the work- place, and this was even more pronounced among women in corrections. However, the professionalization of corrections has opened the door for more fair and balanced work environments, and correctional staff have become more sensitized to different perspectives in the workplace.
CORRECTIONS AND THE LAW 10.1 Nonlethal Force and Criminal and/or Civil Liability
Daniel Gordon and Eric Newsome, correctional officers at the Greenville Federal Correctional Institution, were indicted by a federal grand jury for violating the civil rights of an inmate and then lying to cover up the crime, Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Acting United States Attorney Randy Massey, for the Southern District of Illinois announced today. The indictment alleges that the two defendants assaulted the inmate in his cell using fists and handcuffs to strike and injure the inmate. The grand jury charged both men with conspiracy to violate the inmate’s civil rights and with filing false reports after the incident. Additionally, the grand jury charged Newsome with lying to a special agent of the United States Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General. A trial date has been set for September 11, 2006.
Each defendant faces a maximum term of ten years in prison on each of the civil rights counts, ten years on the conspiracy count, and 20 years on each count of filing a false report. Newsome potentially faces an additional five years in prison for lying to the special agent of the Office of the Inspector General.
The indictment resulted from an investigation by Special Agent Kimberly Thomas from the Chicago Field Office of the Inspector General, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard H. Lloyd from the United States Attorney’s Office, and Trial Attorney Michael Khoury from the Civil Rights Division.
An indictment is an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the United States has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforce- ment of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of miscon- duct by law enforcement officials. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights pros- ecutions in the last five years. Since FY 2001, the Division has increased the conviction rate of defendants by 30 percent.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice. (2006).
Two men indicted for violating
the civil rights of an inmate at
Greenville Federal Correctional
Institution and lying to cover
up the crime. Washington, DC:
Author. Retrieved from http://
Audio Link 10.2 Hear about the affects of state budget cuts.
252 Introduction to Corrections
Further, administrators of correctional facilities have made attempts to hire persons from diverse backgrounds since it has become increasingly clear that this is a benefit when contending with a diverse inmate population. This reflects the shift in prison operations where the primary purpose of prison is to simply respond to problematic behavior with force. Rather, the use of effective communication skills as a means of preventing problems and addressing issues in a more professional manner requires a sense of cultural competence among agencies and certainly among staff. One means of improving agency cultural competence is through the hiring of diverse workers who can relate to the inmate population’s own diver- sity. Having officers of similar racial groups, with proficiency in various languages that are spoken in the facility, and from similar customs and beliefs enhances the ability of the agency to address problematic issues related to racial and/or cultural barriers. Thus, diverse work groups can mitigate many of the nega- tive effects of the prison subculture as well as gangs that tend to be structured along racial lines.
FEMALE CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS
The correctional field has traditionally been stereotyped as a male-dominated area of work. In later chap- ters, students will read more about women in the correctional field; an entire chapter is devoted to female offenders in correctional systems (Chapter 11). In fact, as with the current chapter, there is a general subculture that exists within women’s prison facilities, and this subculture is separate and distinct from the male prison subculture. Likewise, the issues that confront women who work in corrections tend to be different as well. We will explore the various aspects related to both inmates and correctional workers who are female in the upcoming chapter.
For now, it is simply important to note that women are increasingly becoming represented within the field of corrections. While women have had a long history of conducting prison work, they have typi- cally been placed in clerical positions, teaching roles, support services, or the guarding of female offend- ers. They have not historically worked in direct supervision of male offenders. It was not until the late 1970s and/or early 1980s that women were routinely assigned to supervise male inmates (Pollock, 1986). The introduction of women into the security ranks has greatly impacted the organizational culture of many prison facilities and the subculture within them.