"Correctional officers (COs) play a pivotal role within the wider prison system as they are tasked with numerous responsibilities designed to ensure that their respective facilities are operating efficiently. As the front-line bureaucrats of the prison institution (Lipsky, 2010), COs are charged with supervising the activities of inmates, enforcing rules and regulations, affording offenders access to social services, and perhaps most importantly, maintaining order (Crawley, 2004; Kauffmann, 1989). They are also tasked with responding to administrative demands; searching cells for drugs, weapons, and other contraband; and intervening to resolve potentially violent disputes among inmates (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013). COs play such a fundamental role in the functioning of any prison system that Archambeault and Archambeault (1982) remarked that officers 'represent the single most important resource available to any correctional agency' (p. 72). Recent scholarship has suggested that COs work under dangerous conditions that can threaten their general safety and wellness. Following several legislative reforms that started in the 1970s and included 'get tough on crime' policies such as mandatory minimum sentences and habitual offender laws (Mackenzie, 2001), correctional institutions experienced dramatic changes in the composition of the inmate population. Not only did the total number of incarcerated offenders skyrocket from roughly 300,000 to more than 1.5 million between 1975 and 2013, but the percentage of offenders imprisoned for violent crimes increased from about 40 percent in 1985 to more than 60 percent by 2013 (Walmsley, 2013). Although incarceration rates have declined in recent years, the modern-day CO is still required to interact with and supervise individuals in a dangerous environment (Glaze & Kaeble, 2014)."
National Criminal Justice Reference Service: https://www.ncjrs.gov/