CJ503 – How Poor Attitudes among Correctional Staff in a State Prison Might Affect other Aspects of that Prison

CJ503 Organizational Behavior Unit 2 Assignment

The prison correctional officers are at the center of great attention from policy makers and social scientists. These employees hold the greatest responsibilities of maintaining peace, security and order of the prison systems (Larivière, 2001). Given the important role that prison employees play in correctional facilities, their attitudes can in many ways exert positive or negative influence on other employees and the prison inmates. The negative impacts can affect other aspects of a prison such as effectiveness of correctional facilities, job stress and reduced job satisfaction among correctional officers.

            The correctional officer’s attitudes towards inmates are critical to the effectiveness of correctional facilities. Negative attitudes among the correctional officers have been described by (Kjelsberg, Skoglund & Rustad, 2007) as being cynical, authoritarian and pessimistic. Moreover, some of the correctional officers seem to hold the views that the major purpose of the correctional facilities is to provide passive storage of criminals than promotion of prevention and rehabilitation. As the author asserts, poor attitudes among the correctional officers can jeopardize the ability of the correctional facilities to meet the intended goals.

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            Although it is the goal of the correctional facilities to ensure the criminals are rehabilitated and return to the society as better citizens, poor attitudes such as authoritarianism could jeopardize such efforts. Prisoners need to be treated as humans and the goals of correctional facilties are to provide a good environment where prisoners can learn and correct their behaviors. The correctional facility should be a place where they learn good behaviors and that whatever behaviors that lead them to the prison was wrong.

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            Moreover, poor attitudes among correctional officers have been cited as the leading cause of work related pressure among the correctional officers. According to (Stohr, Walsh & Hemmens, 2012; Misis, Kim, Cheeseman, Hogan & Lambert, 2013) unfavourable correctional attitudes are likely to report elevated levels of stress. Correctional officers who support punitive or custodial statements are more likely to experience high levels of job stress compared to those who fail to endorse such statements (p. 386). The elevated level of stress is related to reduced levels of job satisfaction, which in turn negatively impacts on the ability of the prison facilities to meets its correctional goals.

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The Importance of Employee Satisfaction within the Prison

            The prison staff constitute the most expensive and valuable resources in the correctional facilities. It is important that prison employees be motivated in their workplace in order to ensure they meet the major goals of correction and rehabilitation of prisoners. In the case scenario provided, it is evident that there is need for increased employee satisfaction within the prison. Employee satisfaction within the prison cannot be overemphasized owing to the numerous negative reactions. Increasing employee satisfaction in the prison is key towards ending the numerous altercations and riots.

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            Moreover, the increased altercations, riots and punitive approach towards prisoners is likely to increase job related stress. According to (Stohr, Walsh & Hemmens, 2009) poor attitudes towards prisoners have been attributed to increased job-related stress among correctional officers. There is poor attitude towards prisoners in the case prison, where a mixture of punitive and liberal approaches. In addition, the presence of increased prison gangs violence, physical altercations and racial identity, are a source of stress for the prison employees. There is need for job motivation to eliminate these elements for effective operation of the prison.

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            The presence of poor employee satisfaction within the prison is evident through a number of indicators. The first indicator of poor employee satisfaction in the prison is the poor job performance. In the case provided, cases of physical altercations, prison gang violence and poor attitudes and perceptions towards the prisoners have been highlighted. The fact that the prison employees are supposed to offer correctional services is not evidence in the case. Rather the prison employees’ lack of satisfaction has led to a negligent of their duties leading to the observed prisoner behaviors.

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            The other indicator of poor employee satisfaction is the increased feeling of role conflict. According to (Dial & Johnson, 2008) greater job satisfaction among correctional officers has been linked to positive results such as decreased role conflicts. However, in the case scenario provided, there is increased role conflicts are shown in employee segregation along their racial lines. This has infiltrated to the way the employees treat the inmates, with employees turning “blind eyes” to inmate activities.

            Moreover, there is a decreased work attitude among the prison employees, which provides an indication of reduced job satisfaction. The prison employees have adopted different inmate approaches, with some employees turning to punitive approach, while others have adopted a liberal approach. These varying treatments of prisoners in the prison highlight a reduced employee satisfaction, who have resorted to measures that they feel are appropriate as long as they feel they are performing their duties with the prison.

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Ways Leaders in Criminal Justice Can Manage Ethical Behavior in their Organizations

Ethics refers to the standards of behavior that indicate how one should behave or act based on virtues and moral duties derived from principles of right and wrong (Carlson & Garrett, 2013). According to the authors, ethical behavior is anchored in six pillars of trustworthiness, respect, loyalty, fairness, responsibility and loyalty. One of the ways in which leaders can manage the ethical behavior in their organizations is through the creation of a written code of conduct.

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 A code of conduct typically clarifies to the organization employees, the acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.  In the case of prison, every employee whether new hires or old, must be trained on adhering to the organization code of conduct. An example of code of conduct is that of Florida department of corrections. The department’s code of conduct describes five ethical procedures that should be observed by all the prison employees together with an oath of allegiance (Florida Department of Corrections, 2018).

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            The other way in which leaders can manage ethical behavior in organizations is channeling appropriate use of force. In the correctional facilities, is part of correctional work. However, correctional facilities administrators must determine the appropriate and legal ways in which force can be channeled. According to (Stohr, Walsh & Hemmens, 2012) there is need for training of staff on when to escalate and de-escalate the use of force based on situation.

            In addition to managing the use of force and observation of legal rights of inmates, the other important way to manage ethical behavior is through ethical training. Since staff behavior in correctional facility is hidden from public in addition to reduced power of inmates, there is increased likelihood of abuse of power. Therefore, there is need for training on the ethical behavior among the prison staff to ensure they exercise ethical behavior while conducting their duties. Training should be done on ethical responsibility and the need to observe the ethical code of conduct.

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