Relationship Between Inmates and Correctional Officers

Abstract

Inmate – correctional officer relationship is at the center of influence of the efficiency of both the justice and correctional systems. Appreciating this fact, this paper makes an in-depth analysis of different relevant parameter of a relationship between the inmates and their correctional officers. The introduction sheds light on the relevance of the relationship between the inmates and their correctional officers and the potential impact it has on the correctional facilities. This is followed by background information on Texas Department of Criminal Justice indicating its various constituents and their relevance to the topic at hand. The next part of the paper deals with problem statements and the relevance of handling the topic at hand. The research is centered on identifying the kind of relationship between inmates and correctional officers that undermines the effectiveness of correctional facilities. To handle the case at hand effectively, the analysis exploits both independent and dependent variables that are of importance in understanding the different realities brought about by the nature of inmate-correctional officer relationship. Hypothesis statement forms the next part, where an evidence-formed hypothesis based on the literature review is formulated. In conclusion the paper excellently summarizes its own highlights.

Introduction

In correctional facilities, the relationship between correctional officers and inmates is the greatest parameter that can either make or break the correctional system. There is a need to ensure that a healthy relationship is fostered in the correctional facilities. The paper focuses on the inmate and correctional officer relationship and the way it should develop for the effectiveness of correctional facilities to be guaranteed.

Background Information

Texas Department of Criminal Justice is a state agency responsible for managing all the state prisons and jails, and oversees over 150000 offenders (TDCJ, 2016). As a state agency it also supervises offenders released from prisons, before the completion of their maximum sentence periods, with certain specified conditions and control. The board that manages the operations of the Texas Department of Criminal and Justice is composed of 9 members. The members are specifically appointed by the governor to serve for a less than a 6-year term. 1 member from this board is designated as the chairman by the governor. Those, who always report directly to the board, include the state counsel offender division, internal audit department, the office of the inspector general and the Windham school district. The executive director manages the day to day operations of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and oversees more than 30,000 employees (TDCJ, 2016).

The Main Divisions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Correctional institutions. They seek to provide a safe and conducive environment for confinement, supervision, rehabilitation, and reintegration of adult offenders. They also ensure correctional facilities adhere to both constitutional and statutory standards.

Parole. This division is also mandated with some pre-release functions, which include investigating the parole plans proposed by the inmates as well as tracking parole eligible cases and submitting them for timely consideration by the relevant board of pardons and paroles. It is necessary to note that the division is not mandated to make any release decisions.

Community justice division. The primary objective of the Community justice division(CJAD) is to promote safer communities through rehabilitative services for offenders and also protection of victim’s rights. It ensures this through accountability, responsiveness and effective funding (TDCJ, 2016).

Problem Statement

Inmates and correctional officers’ unhealthy relationships are a problem to correctional facilities and may lead to officers or inmates being hurt thereby putting the primary rehabilitation role of a correctional facility in jeopardy. In many instances, this relationship has played a role in cases of inmates or correctional officers’ physical and emotional mistreatment (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2013). On the other hand, the lack of balance has led to some cases where the correctional officers have been hurt or killed. Correctional facilities do host criminals who will go to any length to attain freedom and that necessitates identifying, maintaining and upholding the right relationship type between inmates and correctional officers.

Importance of the Problem

The criminal justice system heavily depends on the effectiveness of correctional facilities. Likewise, the correctional facilities’ effectiveness depends on the existence of law and order within these facilities, which heavily depends on the relationship between correctional officers and inmates. Therefore, analyzing the role this relationship plays in ensuring the right balance is maintained in the correctional facilities will bring forth insights, that will be helpful in guaranteeing stability and effectiveness of these facilities.

Independent and Dependent Variables

In academic research and modeling, independent variables are considered to be inputs and causes that scientist may use. In this paper, independent variables include inmates’ behavior types, correctional officers’ behavior types and institutional culture in the correctional facility. These factors are unchangeable in a given research. By contrast, dependent variables are what scholars intend to study. In this case, it is the relationship being fostered between the correctional officers and the inmates. The researches do not know the outcome before the investigation concludes.

Research Question

The author speculates that an unhealthy inmate-correctional officer relationship poses a threat to both the criminal justice system and correctional system. It is important to determine where such a threat would come from.

Analysis

The lack of correctional officers’ integrity and inadequate balance in inmate-correctional officers’ relationship poses the greatest threat to many correctional facilities. However, there are two common types of relationships that can be traced back to instability within correctional facilities.

Informant Relationship

This is a case, in which correctional officers use an inmate to get some information about other inmates. This information could be used for personal goals or to prevent violent acts from taking place either in the institution or in the community outside (Summerlin, Oehme, Stern, & Valentine, 2010).

Sexual Relationships

In most cases, inmate and officer relationships center on sexual abuse. Often, when inmates and correctional officers come into contact with each other, their relationship becomes sexual. Some of these relationships can be started with consent while others are forced relationships (Summerlin, Oehme, Stern, & Valentine, 2010). There has been an increased number of cases where inmates have claimed to be subjects of sexual harassment by correctional officers. Most of these claims are those of the officers harassing the inmates and not the other way. Employees who work in state prisons and have had sexual relationships with the inmates are in most cases subject to blackmail by the inmates involved, and this pressure would force them into violating some of the prison rules.

Literature Review

Article by Lambert, Hogan, & Jiang (2010) sheds light on a large number of correctional officers who were fired from their jobs due to engaging in sexual relationships, which were deemed unprofessional and inappropriate. It was found, that inmates, who try to have relationships with officers for the purpose of extracting favors from them, are classified into three groups:

  • Exploiters are inmates who hook up with the correctional officers to get access to contrabands such as cigarettes so they can sell them or use them. These contrabands are usually brought to them by the correctional officers involved.
  • Hell-raisers are the type of inmates who are extremely troublesome. They are chaos agents as they pursue sexual relationships to create trouble and disgrace the correctional officers. They can achieve this by sleeping with the officers’ wives, and when this is revealed, the inmates are happy for having caused trouble to the correctional officer’s family.
  • Heart-breakers are inmates who claim to be seriously seeking a long term relationship. They always claim to be in love with the correctional officer involved. They keep their relationship a secret and make plans to start and build a future outside the prison once released.

Another article by Worley, Tewksbury, & Frantzen (2010) discusses how the correctional officers continue to violate the boundary between inmates and officers. This involves helping an inmate to escape from prison and engaging in sexual contact with inmates. These behaviors by the correctional officers tend to obviously threaten the safety of the institution and the community in general. To prevent these actions and regulate inmate and officer relationships, all forms of boundary violations between an inmate and correctional officers must be examined in detail and thoroughly eliminated. This article is aimed at providing the correctional officers with recommendations for organizational change that may minimize the number of boundary violations and interactions between female officers and male inmates. These recommendations are based on information gathered by interviewing different former female correctional officers who have been involved in sexual relationships with male inmates.

Article by Lambert, Hogan, Altheimer, & Wareham (2010) seeks to discuss the correctional officer and inmate relationship. It considers that violations of boundaries through unacceptable behaviors by the correctional officers can cause several problems for prison administrators. This article studies gender differences in inmate perceptions of staff boundary violations. It was found that male inmates were by far much in support of officers’ boundary violations. This is mainly because the inmates in almost every case stood to gain side when those boundary violations took place. The article recommends officers to adopt a firm but fair way to deal with inmates and use gendered strategies to interact with and empower women officers. It also suggests that the relevant agencies adopt effective measures to train their staff and educate the inmates on issues relating to boundary violations.
According to an article by Cook & Lane (2012), the employees who work in federal prisons and have at some point in the course of their work in the prisons engaged in sexual relations with their inmates, are often subjected to blackmail by inmates. These inmates often have some information against the officers that they use to make them do certain favors for them. These favors are in most cases illegal or against the rules of the institution. This could lead to a lot of damage to institutions as it is never safe when officers violate the security guidelines just to please inmates. The article found that compromised personnel provided contraband to prisoners, lied to federal investigators, accepted bribes, and committed other serious crimes as a result of sexual involvement with federal inmates.

Similar findings were obtained in an article by Cole, Smith, & DeJong (2013), where the intention was to identify various norms held in correctional facilities. It was evident that officers who were keen on receiving tips from inmates were heavily involved in breaking the rules and regulations put in place by governing the justice systems. Moreover, it was also evident that inmates were highly willing to give their correctional officers tips in exchange for different favors around the correctional facilities.

Relevance of the Literature Review and Hypothesis Statement

Throughout the literature review, a common phenomenon is conspicuously present in all articles. This is the fact that in all instances, where the relationship between the inmates and correction officer crossed the set ethical boundaries, one of the members of this relationship ended up being hurt. Violations of rules and regulations governing correctional facilities were also present in instances where there was an unhealthy relationship between correctional officers and inmates. Therefore, it is evident that the effectiveness, stability, and integrity of the correctional facilities depend heavily on the nature of the relationship between correctional officers and inmates.

Conclusion

It is evident that there is a need to ensure correctional officers and inmates relationship in a manner that ensures the right behavior is maintained. Moreover, it is clear that in cases, when this relationship has crossed the expected boundaries, the welfare of correctional facilities and the general justice system is put in jeopardy. It is, therefore, obvious that maintaining the right balance is essential, when it comes to the effectiveness of correctional facilities.