Corrections One — Doing time is not just slang used for the inmate population. Correctional officers also do time through hours of confinement, witnessing the worst of humanity, human depravity, and the stress experienced on and off duty.
My research has revealed a significant correlation between stress, wellness, and increased suicide risks for first responders.
The life of the correctional officer can be exciting and scary, but with such polarity in roles comes much stress and anxiety. Correctional officers know the importance of getting along, but never become too friendly. They remain vigilant, yet not appearing paranoid. Correctional officers are essentially locked up with inmates convicted of everything from theft to murder.
One must never underestimate the intentions or ability of an inmate. Having to maintain constant vigilance against attack or ambush, in turn, helps to better understand the stress and anxiety produced from ‘doing time’ with such individuals.
The dangerousness of the job is documented in the deaths and injuries officers sustain each year, as a result of inmate attacks. As if the fear of great bodily injury or death was not enough of a deterrent, literature further suggests that a correctional officer "... will be seriously assaulted at least twice in a 20-year career" (as cited in American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network, 2012).
One can only imagine how stress and anxiety skyrocket after such an attack. Or how self-doubt and fear come into play, thoughts of being hurt again or even killed, and the stress of knowing you have to return to work. Now compound the issue even more: add being understaffed, overworked, underpaid, and all too often, unappreciated by inmates, co-workers, and administrators.
But is officer safety the biggest stressor for correctional officers? According to Dr. Donald Steele, the answer is no. Steele noted that the majority (i.e., 60 percent) of correctional officers he personally treated indicated 'administration' contributed to increased levels of stress (as cited in American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network, 2012). continue reading...