Gender Diversity and the Prospects for Progressive Prison Reform

Jeanette M. Hussemann, Joshua A Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


For decades, scholars and policymakers have thought that changing the demographics of the prison officer workforce-in particular, including more female officers-might facilitate progressive prison reform. This article explores the assumption that female officers are more empathetic and pro-rehabilitation and less punitive than their male counterparts by analyzing the relationship between gender and prison officer attitudes toward inmates and the purpose of imprisonment. Drawing on data from more than 900 prison officers in Minnesota, our findings suggest that although female and male officers may import different attitudes toward punishment and rehabilitation, organizational and cultural factors affect the officers' perspectives more than dispositional characteristics. Because prison officers are chiefly responsible for implementing policy on the ground, prison reform efforts require isolating factors that shape these workers' orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-289
Number of pages23
JournalWomen and Criminal Justice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Minnesota
  • gender
  • officers
  • prison
  • reform


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