Category Archives: Corrections

Fear is a Disease: The Impact of Fear and Exposure to Infectious Disease on Correctional Officer Job Stress and Satisfaction

Source: Deborah J. Hartley, Mario A. Davila, James W. Marquart, Janet L. Mullings, Journal American Journal of Criminal Justice, June 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examined individual and work-level factors that impact job stress and satisfaction for correctional officers. Existing research has explored officer job stress and satisfaction, but very few studies have focused specifically on fear of contracting an infectious disease while at work (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis), and the impact fear of and exposure to infectious disease have on correctional officer job stress and satisfaction. Random sample data were collected from 2,999 male and female officers from across the state of Texas to assess job stress, satisfaction, personal safety, and exposure to infectious disease. Ordinary Least Squares analyses indicated that fear of disease was positively correlated with job stress, and inversely correlated with job satisfaction. Exposure to disease however, failed to yield any significant effects on job stress or satisfaction. Officers who felt that their supervisors were supportive of them on the job reported less stress and higher satisfaction levels, while perceived dangerousness of the job was positively correlated with job stress. These findings highlight the importance of supervisory support as well as continuous, in-depth education and training on infectious diseases for officers.

Examining Growth in the Federal Prison Population, 1998 to 2010

Source: Kamala Mallik-Kane, Barbara Parthasarathy, William Adams, Urban Institute, Research Report, September 2012

From the abstract:
Growth in the size of the federal prison population over the past decade is largely driven by increases in time served, and particularly by longer lengths of stay for drug offenders. This research report, which examines changes in the federal Bureau of Prison’s population from 1998 to 2010, also notes that a higher conviction rate in drug cases and heightened enforcement of immigration and weapon offenses contribute to prison population growth. This growth was moderated by reductions in the rate at which sentenced offenders were admitted to prison and modest declines in the federal prosecution rate. Report findings were based on a statistical decomposition analysis using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Federal Justice Statistics Program.

The Growth & Increasing Cost of the Federal Prison System: Drivers and Potential Solutions

Source: Nancy G. La Vigne, Julie Samuels, Urban Institute, December 2012

From the abstract:
The federal prison population exceeds 218,000, a tenfold increase since 1980. This massive growth is projected to continue and is accompanied by increasing costs, which account for 25% of the Department of Justice’s budget and edge out other important public safety priorities. This brief describes the main drivers of the federal prison population, half of whom are drug offenders. Front-end decisions about who goes to prison and for how long have the greatest impact, suggesting that reductions in sentence lengths -particularly for drug offenders – can most directly contain future growth. “Back-end” changes, such as increasing earned credits for early release, can also help alleviate the pressure. The federal system can learn much from state efforts to contain prison populations and costs; doing so will require the cooperation and support of numerous players across all branches of the federal system.

On the Chopping Block 2012: State Prison Closings

Source: Nicole D. Porter, Sentencing Project, December 2012

The Bureau of Justice Statistics recently reported that the overall state prison population declined for the third consecutive year in 2011. State sentencing reforms and changes in parole revocation policies have been contributing factors in these reductions. As a result, state officials are now beginning to close correctional facilities after several decades of record prison expansion. Continued declines in state prison populations advance the narrative that the nation’s reliance on incarceration is largely a function of policy choices.

In 2012, at least six states have closed 20 prison institutions or are contemplating doing so, potentially reducing prison capacity by over 14,100 beds and resulting in an estimated $337 million in savings. During 2012, Florida led the nation in prison closings with its closure of 10 correctional facilities; the state’s estimated cost savings for prison closings totals over $65 million. This year’s prison closures build on closures observed in 2011 when at least 13 states reported prison closures and reduced prison capacity by an estimated 15,500 beds.

Dishwashing Won't Kill Tummy-Troubling Norovirus: Study

Source: HealthDay, News & Views, December 13, 2012

Commercial dishwashers can kill everyday bacteria but not norovirus, the cause of stomach flu and many foodborne illnesses around the world, according to a new study.

Although restaurant-industry guidelines for cleaning dishes and silverware eliminate bacteria, they are not effective against norovirus, said researchers from Ohio State University. They found the virus can withstand both manual and mechanical washing….
See also:
Efficacies of Sodium Hypochlorite and Quaternary Ammonium Sanitizers for Reduction of Norovirus and Selected Bacteria during Ware-Washing Operations
Source: Lizanel Feliciano, Jianrong Li, Jaesung Lee, Melvin A. Pascall, PLOS One, December 5, 2012

Measuring the Effect of Public-Sector Unionization on Criminal Justice Public Policy

Source: Derek Cohen and Jay Kennedy, University of Cincinnati, November 2012

From a press release:
…UC’s Kennedy and Cohen used a range of data going back as far as 15 years to test three broad impacts that popular wisdom sometimes ascribes to unions. They examined
– whether what’s called “public choice theory,” another way of saying that individual voters vote to benefit themselves, can be applied to collective bargaining units. “Public choice theory” stands in opposition to “communal will theory,” where it’s posited that individual voters opt for the good of the many or group vs. their own individual goods.
– whether unions associated with the criminal justice system engage in “competitive rent seeking,” seeking to maximize specific expenditures into the criminal justice system above and beyond a cost-recovery level in order to benefit specific unions, say a police vs. a corrections union.
– whether states with more liberal ideologies are likely to have smaller per-capita prison populations, and, alternately, whether states that are less liberal have higher incarceration rates. (The researchers are interested whether more-liberal states with stronger unions associated with the criminal justice system might not have harsher laws/sentencing requirements as a means of “guaranteeing concentrated benefits” or prosperity for unions associated with the criminal justice system.)….

…In their research, Kennedy and Cohen found that, yes, when unions associated with the criminal justice system make expenditures related to state issues, there is a broad, diffuse impact. In other words, if one union spends to support an issue benefiting functions in the criminal justice system, the state’s broad public safety sector is likely to generally benefit in the form of more funding, but not necessarily the specific union or sector that made the expenditure….Correspondingly, they found no evidence that competitive rent seeking was taking place. In other words, there is no lion’s share of the spoils (in the form of jobs) going to any specific union making expenditures on behalf of a state issue. So, in general, a specific union making ballot initiative expenditures will not see a relative increase in employment numbers one year on….

The Affordable Care Act: Implications for Public Safety and Corrections Populations

Source: Susan D. Phillips, Sentencing Project, September 2012

…States are now in the process of planning and carrying out the implementation of the ACA. Groups concerned with high rates of incarceration and, in particular, with its accompanying racial disparities, will want to follow these decisions. What follows is a brief introduction to the implications the ACA has for:
(1) lowering the number of people cycling through the criminal justice system because of behaviors stemming from addictions and mental illness;
(2) lowering correctional health care expenditures through improved continuity of care; and
(3) reducing racial disparities in incarceration related to disparities in health care access…

Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff, and Infrastructure

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-12-743, September 12, 2012

From the summary:
The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) 9.5 percent population growth from fiscal years 2006 through 2011 exceeded the 7 percent increase in its rated capacity, and BOP projects continued population growth. Growth was most concentrated among male inmates, and in 2011, 48 percent of the inmates BOP housed were sentenced for drugs. From fiscal years 2006 through 2011, BOP increased its rated capacity by about 8,300 beds as a result of opening 5 new facilities and closing 4 minimum security camps, but because of the population expansion, crowding (or population in excess of rated capacity) increased from 36 to 39 percent. In 2011 crowding was most severe (55 percent) in highest security facilities. BOP’s 2020 long-range capacity plan projects continued growth in the federal prison population from fiscal years 2012 through 2020, with systemwide crowding exceeding 45 percent through 2018.

According to BOP, the growth in the federal inmate population has negatively affected inmates, staff, and infrastructure, but BOP has acted within its authority to help mitigate the effects of this growth. BOP officials reported increased use of double and triple bunking, waiting lists for education and drug treatment programs, limited meaningful work opportunities, and increased inmate-to-staff ratios. These factors, taken together, contribute to increased inmate misconduct, which negatively affects the safety and security of inmates and staff. BOP officials and union representatives voiced concerns about a serious incident occurring. To manage its growing population, BOP staggers meal times and segregates inmates involved in disciplinary infractions, among other things.

The five states in GAO’s review have taken more actions than BOP to reduce their prison populations, because these states have legislative authority that BOP does not have. These states have modified criminal statutes and sentencing, relocated inmates to local facilities, and provided inmates with additional opportunities for early release. BOP generally does not have similar authority. For example, BOP cannot shorten an inmate’s sentence or transfer inmates to local prisons. Efforts to address the crowding issue could include (1) reducing the inmate population by actions such as reforming sentencing laws, (2) increasing capacity by actions such as constructing new prisons, or (3) some combination of both.
See also:
Highlights

The Power of Incentives for Performance

Source: Susan K. Urahn, Governing, August 22, 2012

Corrections is one area in which a handful of states and their local governments are seeing big improvements in results — and saving millions in the process — through a novel funding approach….Faced with similar fiscal pressures, state and local governments can achieve better results at less cost by restructuring their relationships based on evidence of what works instead of simply cutting budgets or passing financial problems back and forth….

Doing "People Work" in the Prison Setting: An Examination of the Job Characteristics Model and Correctional Staff Burnout

Source: Marie L. Griffin, Nancy L. Hogan, Eric G. Lambert, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 39 no. 9, September 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Although correctional staff job burnout is costly to all involved, it has not received the empirical attention it deserves. The job characteristics model holds that job characteristics are important in shaping employee outcomes. This study focused on the effects of the job characteristics of supervision consideration, supervision structure, job autonomy, and job variety on the three dimensions of job burnout (i.e., emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and perceived ineffectiveness at work) among correctional staff. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analysis of data from 160 staff members at a private prison indicated that job autonomy and job variety had significant negative relationships with emotional exhaustion. Supervision consideration, job autonomy, and job variety all had negative effects on the depersonalization dimension of burnout. Job autonomy and job variety had significant negative effects on perceived ineffectiveness.