A comparative perspective on officer wellness: american reflections from norwegian prisons

Veronica L. Horowitz, Emily R. Greberman, Patrick E. Nolan, Jordan M. Hyatt, Chris Uggen, Synøve N. Andersen, Steven L. Chanenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Correctional officers in the United States experience severe work-related stressors and are generally physically unwell compared to similar public employees. An innovative and new approach to improving American corrections that is starting to gain momentum stems from looking at the workplace dynamic in alternative international models, such as in Scandinavian prison systems, for models of workplace reform. This study examines the perspectives of staff and leaders from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections who traveled to Scandinavia as part of a correctional exchange. Each day of the trip, correctional staff recorded their qualitative reflections and completed a basic survey about their observations and experiences. This article examines both forms of data to explore correctional officer wellness from the perspective of American correctional officers. Five key themes are discussed: morale, stress, danger, dynamic security, and communication. Survey results corroborate this pattern, as US correctional officers reported somewhat lower stress and more positive interactions during their time in Norway. Key takeaways and implications for policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-497
Number of pages21
JournalCriminal Justice Studies
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support for this Article and the broader Scandinavian Prison Project from Arnold Ventures, the Norwegian Research Council for Criminology (“NSfK”), the Scandinavian-American Foundation, and Drexel University. This project would not have been possible without the support of the Norwegian Correctional Service, and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support for this Article and the broader Scandinavian Prison Project from Arnold Ventures, the Norwegian Research Council for Criminology (“NSfK”), the Scandinavian-American Foundation, and Drexel University. This project would not have been possible without the support of the Norwegian Correctional Service, and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Correctional officers
  • Norway
  • correctional officer wellness
  • dynamic security
  • morale
  • stress

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