Category Archives: Corrections

With the majority of corrections officers declining the COVID-19 vaccine, incarcerated people are still at serious risk

Source: Wanda Bertram and Wendy Sawyer, Prison Policy Initiative, April 22, 2021

Correctional staff in most states have been eligible for COVID-19 vaccination for months, prioritized ahead of many other groups because of the key role staff play in introducing the virus into prisons and jails and then bringing it back out to surrounding communities. Against the recommendations of medical experts, many states chose to vaccinate correctional staff before incarcerated people, often claiming that staff would serve as a barrier against the virus entering prisons and infecting people who are locked up. Now it’s becoming clearer than ever that this policy choice was a gigantic mistake: New data suggests that most prison staff have refused to be vaccinated, leaving vast numbers of incarcerated people- who have been denied the choice to protect themselves – at unnecessary risk.

We compiled data from the UCLA Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project, The Marshall Project/AP, and other sources, and calculated the current rate of staff immunizations in 36 states and the Bureau of Prisons. We found that across these jurisdictions, the median vaccination rate — i.e. the percentage of staff who had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose — was only 48%. The numbers are even more disturbing in states like Michigan and Alabama, where just over 10% of staff have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Participatory survey design of a workforce health needs assessment for correctional supervisors

Source: Alicia G. Dugan, Sara Namazi, Jennifer M. Cavallari, Robert D. Rinker, Julius C. Preston, Vincent L. Steele, Martin G. Cherniack, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 64 Issue 5, May 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Introduction
The correctional workforce experiences persistent health problems, and interventions designed with worker participation show favorable outcomes. However, participatory intervention research often leaves workers out of the health needs assessment, the basis of interventions subsequently developed. This omission risks failure to detect factors contributing to the health and is less likely to result in primary prevention interventions.

Methods
Partnering with a correctional supervisors’ union, we followed Schulz and colleagues’ community‐based participatory research (CBPR) methods for participatory survey design and used Healthy Workplace Participatory Program (HWPP) tools to develop a tailored survey to assess workforce health and contributing factors. Utilizing the HWPP Focus Group Guide, we generated key themes to adapt the HWPP All Employee Survey, a generic workforce health assessment, to become thorough and contextually‐relevant for correctional supervisors.

Results
Content analysis of focus group data revealed 12 priority health concerns and contributors, including organizational culture, masculinity, work‐family conflict, family support, trauma, positive job aspects, health literacy and efficacy, health/risk behaviors, sleep, obesity, and prioritizing work and income over health. Twenty‐six measures were added to the generic survey, mainly health‐related antecedents including knowledge, attitudes, norms, and motivation.

Conclusion
Findings yielded new insights about supervisors’ lived experiences of work and health, and resulted in a customized workforce survey. CBPR methods and HWPP tools allowed us to identify health issues that we would not have detected with conventional methods, and provide opportunities for interventions that address root causes of poor health. We share challenges faced and lessons learned using CBPR with the correctional workforce.

The Role of Fines and Fees on Probation Outcomes

Source: Ebony Ruhland, Bryan Holmes, Amber Petkus, Criminal Justice and Behavior, October 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Individuals on probation are commonly assessed fines and fees. These monetary sanctions serve different purposes. Fines are primarily used for more punitive purposes, whereas fees are often used to recover the costs of services provided. Regardless of ability to pay, monetary sanction payments are often required as a probation condition. Nonpayment therefore can result in violations and potentially revocations. However, little is known about how fines and fees operate specifically within probation. This current study explored legal and extralegal factors that influence the total amount of fines and fees assessed in individual cases, as well as the influence of fines and fees on probation revocations. The implications of the findings concentrate on ways to improve probation policies as well as probation officer’s practices as they relate to the collection and enforcement of monetary sanctions.

A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons

Source: Marshall Project, Updated August 21, 2020

The Marshall Project is collecting data on COVID-19 infections in state and federal prisons. See how the virus has affected correctional facilities where you live.

Related:
Tracking the Spread of Coronavirus in Prisons
Source: Katie Park, Tom Meagher and Weihua Li, Marshall Project, April 24, 2020

A new Marshall Project effort has collected data on the prevalence of COVID-19 among prisoners and prison staff. Here’s what we know after one month of reporting.

Testing a Path Model of Organizational Justice and Correctional Staff Job Stress Among Southern Correctional Staff

Source: Eric G. Lambert, Linda D. Keena, Stacy H. Haynes, David May, Rosemary Ricciardelli, Matthew Leone, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Volume 46 Issue 10, October 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Job stress has many negative effects on correctional staff. We proposed and tested a path model of transactional, procedural, and distributive justice’s direct and indirect effects on the job stress of 322 surveyed correctional staff, including 219 correctional officers, at a maximum security Southern prison. Findings indicated that procedural, distributive, and transactional justice affected job stress. Specifically, the proposed path model was supported, such that procedural justice had an indirect effect on job stress through distributive justice, and transactional and distributive justice had direct, negative effects on job stress. Transactional justice also had indirect effects on job stress through procedural and distributive justice. Taken together, the results suggest that organizational justice plays an important role in reducing correctional staff job stress.

Sex and Gender Role Differences in Occupational Exposures and Work Outcomes Among Registered Nurses in Correctional Settings

Source: Mazen El Ghaziri, Alicia G Dugan, Yuan Zhang, Rebecca Gore, Mary Ellen Castro, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, Advance Articles, March 30, 2019

From the abstract:
Background and context:
The correctional environment exposes registered nurses to unique occupational health hazards including, but not limited to, an increased risk for workplace violence. Gender role expectations regarding femininity and masculinity may influence occupational exposures and outcomes differently. Risk comparisons between male and female registered nurses working in correctional settings, have been minimally examined. With the proportion of male registered nurses working in corrections higher than that of nurses working in other healthcare sectors, and with the increasing number of males entering the nursing workforce in general, it is important to characterize and understand occupational exposures and outcomes of male and female registered nurses, especially those working in correctional settings.

Purpose/objectives:
This paper aims to describe and compare sex and gender role differences in occupational exposures and work outcomes among correctional registered nurses.

Methods:
A cross-sectional web-based survey using Qualtrics was administered to registered nurses working in a northeastern correctional healthcare system between June and October 2016. The survey was composed of 71 items from the CPH-NEW Healthy Workplace All Employee Survey, Assessing Risk of Exposure to Blood and Airborne Pathogens and General Health Survey, Bem Sex Role Inventory-Short Form (BSRI-SF), and the Negative Acts Questionnaire-Revised.

Results:
Of 95 registered nurse participants, 75% were female with the highest percentage identified as belonging to the feminine group (37%), while the highest percentage of male participants were identified as belonging to the androgynous group (33%). Females worked primarily on the first shift, while males tended to work the second and third shifts (P < 0.05). Over one third of all participants (37%) reported having experienced a sharps-related injury and having been exposed to blood-borne pathogens and body fluids within the previous 2–5 years. The majority of the participants (>95%) reported being at risk for workplace violence and having been victims of workplace violence perpetrated by an inmate. Significant gender differences (P < 0.0001) were noted in the bullying exposure with androgynous nurses having higher occasional bullying. There was a marginal difference in burnout for females (M = 6.8, SD = 2.1) and males (M = 5.8, SD = 1.9, P = 0.05). Implications: Effective interventions are needed to address the sex and gender role-based differences in bullying exposure and burnout in order to promote the overall health and well-being of correctional registered nurses.

Amid Strikes and Shortages, Governors Prioritize State Workers’ Plight

Source: Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, Governing, February 25, 2019

Protesting teachers likely won’t be the only public employees who see pay raises and workplace improvements this year. ….

– In their State of the State addresses and executive orders this year, many governors are making public workforce issues a priority.
– They are particularly targeting teachers and corrections staff for pay raises.
– Several governors are focused on fighting sexual harassment and LGBT discrimination in state government…..

Prisons Across The U.S. Are Quietly Building Databases Of Incarcerated People’s Voice Prints

Source: George Joseph, Debbie Nathan, The Intercept, January 30, 2019

….Dukes, who was released in October, says he was never told about what that procedure was meant to do. But contracting documents for New York’s new prison phone system, obtained by The Appeal in partnership with The Intercept, and follow-up interviews with prison authorities, indicate that Dukes was right to be suspicious: His audio sample was being “enrolled” into a new voice surveillance system.

In New York and other states across the country, authorities are acquiring technology to extract and digitize the voices of incarcerated people into unique biometric signatures, known as voice prints. Prison authorities have quietly enrolled hundreds of thousands of incarcerated people’s voice prints into large-scale biometric databases. Computer algorithms then draw on these databases to identify the voices taking part in a call and to search for other calls in which the voices of interest are detected. Some programs, like New York’s, even analyze the voices of call recipients outside prisons to track which outsiders speak to multiple prisoners regularly.

Corrections officials representing the states of Texas, Florida, and Arkansas, along with Arizona’s Yavapai and Pinal counties; Alachua County, Florida; and Travis County, Texas, also confirmed that they are actively using voice recognition technology today. And a review of contracting documents identified other jurisdictions that have acquired similar voice-print capture capabilities: Connecticut and Georgia state corrections officials have signed contracts for the technology (Connecticut did not respond to repeated interview requests; Georgia declined to answer questions on the matter)…..