Gender Issues in Corrections Assignment

Gender Issues in Corrections Assignment Words: 1386

FIRST DRAFT INTRO: The issue of Corrections today focuses on female offenders and is a part of the American Correctional Association’s long-standing effort to improve programming and services for women and girls in the criminal justice system. Until recently, women and girls were called the “forgotten offenders” because they were frequently overlooked in correctional research, policy development, program design and organizational management. Female and male correctional officers also face a wide range of issues as well.

They are exposed to the correctional environment issues with males working in all women prisons and females working inside male prisons. Sexual harassment lawsuits, rape charges, abuse reports, etc. This topic is important in criminal justice because it involves male and female offenders, not just a specific gender. When incarcerated, both genders are subjected to hostile and irate offenders who are mad and just want retaliation against someone, anyone for them being sentenced to an environment that is out of their comfort zone. http://law. jrank. rg/pages/1805/Prisons-Prisons-Women-Problems-unmet-needs-in-contemporary-women-s-prison. html In the 1970s, correctional managers recognized four fundamental challenges: high staff turnover; the growing lack of white applicants in the job pool; the lack of treatment-oriented officers; and minority inmate demands that the correctional work force be diversified. The response to these challenges was a concerted effort to increase the number of women and minorities in corrections. The presence of female correctional officers in the men’s prison was desired because they were seen as bringing a “normalizing” influence into prison.

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This perception was based on the assumption that women would rely more extensively on listening and communication skills than male C. O. s and develop personal relationships with inmates that could be used as a “technique of control” (Pollock, p. 111). Minority officers were sought because of a belief that minority inmates would be more amenable to rehabilitation if they were supervised by minority officers who could serve as role models. Minorities were viewed as constituting a more sympathetic work force with which minority inmates could identify (Jacobs and Kraft). The result was the creation of aggressive affirmative action programs.

Prior to the early 1970s, women in corrections worked as matrons in the women’s prison or as clerical staff in the men’s prisons. They were not hired as C. O. s in men’s prisons because of male fears that women lack physical strength; are too easily corrupted by inmates; can not provide appropriate back-up in emergency situations; have a vulnerability to assault that jeopardizes facility security; are a disruptive influence because inmates will not obey them or will fight for their attention; and violate inmate privacy by being in a position to view inmate personal hygiene activities (Hawkins and Alpert; Alpert and Crouch).

Because promotional criteria favored staff with direct supervision of male inmates, employees in clerical or matron roles had little hope of professional advancement (Chapman et al. ). The passage of amendments to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in 1972 extended the prohibition of employment discrimination to government employers. Women used this amendment to file civil suits against correctional managers who would not hire them to work as officers in male prisons. As a result, women are no longer limited to supervising women inmates.

In states such as Alabama where one-third of correctional officers are women, 89 percent work in men’s prisons. In 1997, 14. 8 percent of the Federal Bureau of Prison’s new hires for the C. O. workforce were women. At the state level, 25. 5 percent of the new hires, on average, were women (Camp and Camp, p. 144). Thirty years of experience have found that male concerns about the unsuitability of women to be C. O. s in men’s prisons are groundless (Walters; Wright and Saylor).

Shawver and Dickover and Rowan reported that female officers are assaulted significantly less often than male officers and there is no relationship between the percentage of women officers and the number of assaults against male staff. Simon and Simon found that female C. O. s write approximately the same number of misconduct reports as male C. O. s, for the same types of violations. Jurik and Halemba found one significant difference between male and female officer perceptions of the job. The men wanted more discretion. The women wanted more structure. Both male and female C. O. tended to believe that the majority of their work-related problems were caused by superiors, although women were more likely to express negative attitudes toward male coworkers and view them as the cause of many of their problems. Fry and Glasner (1987) found that female officers were more negative in their evaluation of inmate services. However, male officer hostility to the hiring of female C. O. s has been a consistent problem in corrections and women are still a numeric minority in most men’s prisons. Their appearance, demeanor, behavior, performance, and mistakes receive a disproportionate amount of attention (Zimmer).

In addition, male supervisors often assign female C. O. s to low-risk assignments such as visiting rooms and control rooms, a practice that limits their opportunities for skills development and advancement and further antagonizes male C. O. s who resent working the dangerous jobs while women get the easy jobs (Zimmer; Jurik, 1985). The decision to recruit minority officers through aggressive affirmative action programs was met with fierce resistance by white officers. Racism was prevalent and many white officers believed that nonwhite, urban C. O. s would be pro-inmate and less trustworthy (Irwin).

The fear that minority officers would “go easy” on inmates has not been validated by research. In fact, Jacobs and Kraft found that African American C. O. s were more punitive than whites toward inmates. Klofas and Toch found that minority C. O. s expressed the need for high social distance between officer and inmate. By the end of 1997, the percentage of minority hires in state departments of corrections was 26. 9 percent of the total hired (Camp and Camp, p. 143). However, racism remains a powerful factor in corrections. Philliber notes the tendency of African American C.

O. s to quit their jobs more often than whites, primarily because of conflicts with superior officers, and to express higher levels of job dissatisfaction than whites. Today, women work in both uniformed and non-uniformed positions within corrections. They seek and hold correctional officer positions in secure residential areas in male units. They have responsibilities that put them in direct contact with male convicts, including the vital roles of providing treatment and counseling for mental health, drug abuse, anger management, and alcohol rehabilitation.

Significant milestones in the role of women correctional officers took place as the courts determined that females supervising male prisoners were permitted to conduct searches such as pat down searches. Also, in emergency lock down situations, if female correctional officers are present, they may provide security while strip searches occur — of course provided that there is no gawking or physical contact with an inmate. These are the same job responsibilities and requirements expected of male correctional officers.

Additional duties now permitted for female correctional officers in secure male residential units include supplying clean clothing to prisoners, assuring the security of prisoners during showers, and responding to incidents no matter where the events occur. A significant finding is that female staff may have a calming effect on male prisoners. This is attributed to male inmates potentially displaying a level of respect toward women based on environmental and cultural roles of women in inmates’ families.

In other cases, an assault upon a female correctional officer may result in a male prisoner coming to her defense. In such sensitive situations, a female correctional officer may prevent violence, harm, or an escalation of an incident. Experience has shown that female correctional officers may be as fair, firm, and consistent with enforcement of rules and policies as their male counterparts. Reference Page for above info: http://law. jrank. org/pages/1792/Prisons-Correctional-Officers-BIBLIOGRAPHY. html www. utsa. du/swjcj/archives/3. 2/CheesemanWorley. pdf http://nicic. gov/pubs/1991/009504. pdf http://pdfcast. org/pdf/parallel-perceptions-gender-job-enrichment-and-job-satisfaction-among-correctional-officers-in-women http://www. corrections. com/news/article/21703 http://books. google. com/books? id=o0rjRPnO7K4C&pg=PA461&lpg=PA461&dq=women+corrections+officers+male+prisons&source=web&ots=GivgEffglp&sig=YFoZ-_kLPYWK_FWcRJWQN2sbrS8#PPA462,M1 http://www. mtctrains. com/institute/publications/WomenProfessionalsInCorrection

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