ArticlePDF Available

Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in Corrections

Abstract and Figures

Correctional staff turnover is a critically important but under-researched topic, and studies are lacking of how staff perceive the problem. By using a descriptive survey method, this study examined such perceptions of turnover among a sample of correctional officers. Staff attributed turnover to insufficient pay and benefits as well as to key areas of the work environment, including interpersonal conflicts, stress, unfavorable treatment and lack of recognition from superiors, and perceived lack of input. A third of respondents indicated they are likely to leave their jobs in the next three years. We conclude that correctional staff may consider alternative employment prospects and contemplate turnover when they experience a sense of devaluation, especially where devaluation is accompanied by perceptions of low efficacy on the job.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009 43
Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in
Corrections
Kevin I. Minor, Cherie Dawson-Edwards, James B. Wells,
Carl Griffith, and Earl Angel
Correctional staff turnover is a critically important but under-researched topic,
and studies are lacking of how staff perceive the problem. By using a
descriptive survey method, this study examined such perceptions of turnover
among a sample of correctional officers. Staff attributed turnover to insufficient
pay and benefits as well as to key areas of the work environment, including
interpersonal conflicts, stress, unfavorable treatment and lack of recognition
from superiors, and perceived lack of input. A third of respondents indicated
they are likely to leave their jobs in the next three years. We conclude that
correctional staff may consider alternative employment prospects and
contemplate turnover when they experience a sense of devaluation, especially
where devaluation is accompanied by perceptions of low efficacy on the job.
Key Words: corrections ! correctional staff ! employee turnover ! employee perceptions
Employee turnover has been studied across various disciplines, and it is a serious
problem in the field of corrections. Correctional agencies spend considerable funds from
limited budgets on personnel recruitment, selection, and training (Kiekbusch, Price, &
Thesis, 2003; Lambert & Hogan, 2006). High turnover, especially among staff who are
relatively new, means that monetary and other resources invested in recruitment, hiring,
and training do not produce desired returns. In turn, this situation can result in fewer
resources available for initiatives to promote staff retention and development (e.g., pay
raises and in-service training) as well as the for the betterment and management of
offenders (e.g., inmate programs).
Of course, the problem involves much more than money. Correctional agencies with
high turnover commonly confront a shortage of high performing, experienced, and skilled
personnel. The result can be suspensions and delays of activities, breakdowns of conti-
nuity and consistency, and increased likelihood of mistakes (Roseman, 1981). The per-
sonnel who are available may end up working excess overtime, which, in addition to
further straining budgets, can heighten job stress and burnout. Under such conditions,
Kevin I. Minor is professor and chair, Cherie Dawson-Edwards is assistant professor, James B.
Wells is professor, and Carl Griffith is a student in the Department of Correctional and Juvenile
Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky. Earl Angel is a research
associate in the College of Justice and Safety, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond.
Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, and Angel
44 Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009
correctional environments can grow more volatile and potentially dangerous than usual.
Moreover, these circumstances can fuel public stereotypes of correctional agencies as
undesirable places to work—as jobs of last resort (Stohr, Self, & Lovrich, 1992). In short,
high turnover often feeds on itself to intensify problems and undermine organizational
effectiveness on a number of fronts.
Correctional staff turnover clearly deserves more attention than it has received in the
criminal justice literature. Furthermore, nearly all studies conducted to date have focused
on the relationship of turnover to two broad categories of variables: (1) staff demographic
and background profiles and (2) organizational and work environment variables, including
work-related attitudes (see Jurik & Winn, 1987). Other than research on turnover intentions
(described below), we located few studies that have examined the problem of turnover as
correctional staff themselves perceive it. Yet a focus on staff perceptions complements
the focus of existing literature on background and work environment variables. In addition,
a sound argument can be made that any agency should pay careful attention to the
factors its own employees see as important in promoting and controlling turnover. Thus,
the objective of this study is to examine the turnover problem as correctional staff
members perceive it.
Literature Review
Correctional staff turnover is known to be related to organizational and work environment
factors. Accordingly, there is considerable variation across correctional agencies in
turnover volume. While average annual turnover can be as high as 45% in corrections,
the best estimate seems to be in the range of 12% to 25% (Lambert, 2001; and see
McShane, Williams, Schichor, & McClain, 1991; K. N. Wright, 1994).
The literature draws two distinctions as regards the study of correctional staff
turnover. The first is between turnover that is voluntary and involuntary (Lambert, 2001,
2006; Price & Mueller, 1986). In the case of the former, the staff member initiates
cessation of employment, while with the latter, the agency initiates cessation (e.g., layoffs
and dismissals). Lambert suggests that this distinction is important because voluntary
turnover is more frequent, most costly and disruptive to the organization, and the most
amenable to curtailment. Indeed, dismissals are often in the best interest of the organization.
For this reason, researchers tend to be most interested in voluntary turnover.
A second distinction is that between actual turnover and turnover intentions. Actual
turnover is a behavioral construct, referring to an employee actually leaving the organization.
On the other hand, intentions are a cognitive construct and refer to an employee planning
to leave. The earlier studies of staff turnover in adult and juvenile corrections (e.g., Camp,
1994; T. A. Wright, 1993) focus on actual turnover. This is sensible in that an employee
Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in Corrections
Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009 45
who indicates intent to leave an agency might not actually end up doing so. Alternatively,
one who indicates a plan to stay might actually leave on what amounts to a whim.
However, Lambert (2006) makes a case that it is more feasible to obtain a reliable and
valid measure of turnover intent compared with actual turnover, primarily due to potential
inaccuracies and unavailability of agency records. He also argues that intention is the
single best predictor of actual turnover behavior. More recent research has typically used
measures of turnover intent (e.g., Kiekbusch et al., 2003; Mitchell, MacKenzie, Styve, &
Gover, 2000; Tipton, 2002). Still, there are questions about the extent to which intent
accurately predicts actual turnover behavior, and some have pointed out that the time
frame is important in defining intent because as time increases the link between intent and
actual turnover weakens (see Kirschenbaum & Weisberg, 1990).
As mentioned above, research on turnover and related issues in corrections has
focused on individual background variables. Examples of these variables include age
(Camp, 1994; Robinson, Porporino, & Simourd, 1997), gender (Jurik, 1985; Tipton, 2002), race
(Ford, 1995; Jacobs & Grear, 1977; Jurik & Winn, 1987; Mitchell et al., 2000), and education
(Jurik, Halemba, Musheno, & Boyle, 1987; Mitchell et al., 2000). Researchers have also
examined variables related to the organization and work environment. Examples include
job satisfaction (Byrd, Cochran, Silverman, & Blount, 2000; Dennis, 1998; Jurik & Winn, 1987;
Udechukwu, Harrington, Manyak, Segal, & Graham, 2007; T. A. Wright, 1993); organizational
commitment (Byrd et al., 2000; Camp, 1994; Griffin & Hepburn, 2005); and job stress (Byrd et
al., 2000; Mitchell et al., 2000; Slate & Vogel, 1997).
Some investigators outside corrections have sought to model turnover (e.g.,
Kirschenbaum & Weisberg, 1990; Michaels & Spector, 1982; Mobley, Griffeth, Hand, & Meglino,
1979). These models usually conceptualize turnover in terms of the effect of moderator
variables on intentions to voluntarily terminate employment. Lambert (2001) applied this
logic to corrections and developed a model in which actual turnover behavior is seen as a
direct effect of turnover intents. In Lambert’s model, intent is the direct outcome of perceptions
of alternative employment, work related attitudes such as job satisfaction, and individual
characteristics. Organizational commitment mediates the effect of job satisfaction on intents.
Both job satisfaction and organizational commitment, in turn, mediate the effect of personal and
work environment factors.
Lambert (2006) tested this model by using survey data collected from staff at a high
security state correctional facility with a population of about 1,000 male inmates. He reported
that three individual factors (gender, education, and tenure) and two work environment factors
(organizational commitment and job satisfaction) were significant predictors of turnover
intention, with job satisfaction having the strongest effect. Lambert (2008) also reported no
significant relationship between job involvement and turnover intention. In a more recent study
Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, and Angel
46 Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009
of staff working in a private prison, Lambert and Hogan (2009) found the most direct
predictors of turnover intent to be age, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment.
As mentioned above, something missing from this body of literature is attention to the
manner in which correctional staff members themselves account for turnover. As a
process, turnover may actually begin long before the termination or departure of employ-
ment takes place. Referred to as psychological turnover, this may develop in an employee
when certain experiences or events occur, such as being overlooked for promotion,
conflicts at work, major organizational restructuring, or insufficient pay increases
(Roseman, 1981). In addition to instances of psychological turnover that lead ultimately to
employment cessation, turnover intent can remain even if an employee never voluntarily
severs ties to the organization. We know from psychological research that the manner in
which people attribute the causes of events and issues in their lives shapes what they
expect to see happen and, in turn, how they behave (see Carver & Scheier, 2008; Schunk,
2008). So there is good reason to consider staff perceptions of the turnover issue.
There are two primary bases for correctional staff making attributions about turnover
in their field. The first is experiential and derives from a staff member’s own direct work
history in corrections, both in the present agency and in places where she or he may have
worked previously. The second basis is vicarious and derives from staff member social-
ization in the employee subculture generally and, more specifically, interactions with other
correctional staff who have left their agencies or are planning to do so. The vicarious
component consists of perceptions of why others have left the agency (or aim to do so) as
well as perceptions of what those persons have accomplished by leaving (e.g., obtaining
more pay and more desirable hours from alternative employment). As such, the present
study is meant to complement and extend past research on turnover intentions by
examining data on correctional employees’ perceptions of the staff turnover problem.
Method
Correctional Facility and Participants
This study was conducted during late 2007 and early 2008 at a medium security state
prison located in a rural area. The facility’s inmate population is approximately 1,250 males. It
has 285 staff members, approximately 200 of whom are correctional officers. While turnover
data were not available for the particular facility, wider state Department of Corrections
(DOC) turnover was 21% for the 2006 to 2007 time period (the most recent available).
The survey described below was administered to a random sample of 101 correctional
officers selected for purposes of this research. The sample was stratified to ensure proportional
representation by shift, gender, race, tenure, and rank (i.e., supervisor versus line staff), and
proportionality was achieved on these variables. The survey response rate was 88.1% (N = 89).
Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in Corrections
Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009 47
The majority of respondents were male (82%) and Caucasian (97.7%), with 2.3%
African American. Respondents ranged in age from 19 to 68 years, with a mean of 42
years (SD = 12.3). More than half (53.9%) the respondents indicated that their highest
level of education completed was high school (either graduation or GED). More than a
third (37.1%) indicated having completed some college credit without finishing a degree;
6.7% held an associate’s degree, and 2.2% had baccalaureate degrees.
The majority of officers (78.7%) were line staff; 21.3% were supervisors. The average
number of years worked in the field of corrections was 7.5 (SD = 6.27). The average
number of years employed in the particular DOC was 7.0 (SD = 6.02), while the average
years worked at the facility were the research was conducted was 6.8 (SD = 6.05). The
average starting salary for a correctional officer in the DOC for 2005 (the most recent
available) was $25,565.
Survey Instrument
The survey instrument used in this study had five parts. The first part asked staff to provide an
open-ended description of the top three reasons they believe correctional officers leave the
DOC within three years of being hired. Part two asked staff to rate the importance of 15 factors
in promoting officer turnover. Ratings were made on a five-point Likert scale, ranging from very
unimportant (1) to very important (5). The factors were selected based on the literature
review and on the basis of one of the author’s 16 years of experience working in the DOC.
Part three of the survey was meant to assess participantsturnover intentions. Participants
were asked to indicate (from the following options) the time frame in which they intend to leave
the DOC and instructed to select only one option: 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, 5 years, 10
years, 15 years, or 20 years or more. Subsequently, participants were asked to provide an
open-ended response describing the reason(s) for leaving in the indicated time frame, starting
with the most important reason.
The fourth part of the survey was an open-ended item asking participants to describe
the most important change(s) the DOC could implement to reduce staff turnover. The final
part solicited the staff demographic and background information described above.
Survey participation was voluntary and anonymous. Following distribution to staff,
surveys were returned in sealed envelopes.
Results
Survey Part 1
Low pay was overwhelmingly the major reason staff gave to account for turnover. Nearly
97% of respondents cited pay as one of the top three reasons new staff leave the DOC
Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, and Angel
48 Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009
within the first three years of being hired. Additionally, 37% cited insurance or benefits as
a reason. More than 21% mentioned the need to find a “better” job or one closer to home.
However, not all reasons given related primarily to economics. Staff also cited key
features of the work environment. For example, 29.2% listed interpersonal conflicts with
coworkers or supervisors as reasons for staff departures, and 28.1% cited stress or the
poor nature of the work environment. More than 20% made reference to unequal or
unfavorable treatment of staff from supervisors.
Lesser proportions of respondents attributed turnover to other factors. Almost 17%
referenced the nature of the work schedule (i.e., shifts and hours worked). Nearly 16% of
respondents said that staff leave due to concerns or fears over personal safety. More than
11% stated that employees who leave do so when they learn the nature of the job is not
what they expected. Other factors cited included staff shortages (9% of respondents) and
poor training (7.9%).
Table 1. Perceived Importance of Factors Potentially Contributing to Turnover (N = 89)
Factor
Mean
SD
Inadequate pay scales
4.82
0.44
Concerns over personal safety
4.30
0.79
Concerns over institutional security
4.26
0.76
Officers not knowing what their supervisors expect
4.09
0.83
Officers not believing that senior management understands
problems faced on the job
4.43
0.74
Problems with coworkers
3.91
1.05
Problems with inmates
3.84
1.03
Officers feeling they lack say over matters that most affect them
4.45
0.64
Lack of loyalty to the institution
4.01
0.95
Lack of satisfaction with the nature of the work
4.06
0.84
Stressful work environment
4.61
0.67
Inadequate training
4.13
0.88
Feeling that the job is dead-end with few opportunities to advance
3.96
0.95
Perceptions of better employment opportunities elsewhere
4.49
0.74
Job keeps them away from their family too much
3.66
1.11
Survey Part 2
Recall that the second part of the survey solicited staff ratings of the importance of various
factors in promoting officer turnover. Ratings ranged from 1 (least important) to 5 (most
important). Table 1 presents descriptive data.
Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in Corrections
Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009 49
As the table shows, no items had mean ratings below 3.66. Items with the highest
mean ratings pertained to pay scales, work stress, perceptions of alternative employment,
perceived lack of say over matters affecting staff, not believing managers understand the
problems officers face, and the interrelated issues of personal safety concerns and
concerns over institutional security. Other items with relatively high mean ratings include
the inadequacy of training, officers feeling that they do not know what their supervisors
expect, dissatisfaction with the nature of the work, and lack of loyalty to the institution.
Multiple t-tests were performed to determine the extent to which staff ratings of the
factors in Table 1 varied by different staff categories based on demographics and back-
grounds. Only one test yielded significant results. The mean rating (5.00, SD = .000)
assigned to inadequate pay by women was significantly higher than the rating (4.78,
SD = .479) assigned by men, t (72) = 3.91, p = .000, 2-tailed.
Correlations were computed to study the relationship between ratings and continuous
staff demographic variables. Four significant relationships were found, two involving
education and two involving age. Compared with staff with higher education levels, those
with less education rated “concerns over institutional security” as a more important cause
of turnover (r = -.27, p = .01). Similarly, staff with less education had higher ratings of the
factor “officers not knowing what their supervisors except” (r = -.26, p = .02). Ratings on
this same factor decreased as age increased (r = -.23, p = .04). Finally, ratings on the
factor “officers feeling they lack say over matters that most affect them” declined with
increasing age (r = -.24, p = .03).
Survey Part 3
Table 2 shows the proportion of respondents indicating that they are likely to leave
the DOC within the various time frames. As the table reveals, more than 20% of the
respondents said they were likely to leave in the coming three years, and 11.5% indicated
a likelihood to leave in the coming year. On the other hand, more than 55% selected 10
years or longer as the time frame.
Given that more than half of the staff said they plan to stay with the DOC at least
another decade, it is not surprising that the most commonly cited reason for departure
(58.4% of respondents) was retirement. (These DOC staff members are eligible to retire
after 20 years of service.) But other reasons were also given. Nearly 15% expressed a
desire to find a different or better job. Similarly, 11.2% cited poor pay as a reason for their
turnover intentions. Other explanations included stress (4.5%), safety concerns (3.4%),
lack of opportunities for promotion, (3.4%), and the way staff feel they are treated (3.4%);
the latter category included mention of poor or unequal treatment and lack of recognition.
Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, and Angel
50 Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009
Table 2. Percentage of Respondents Likely to Leave DOC in
Specified Time Periods (N = 87)
a
Time Period
N
6 months
1
1 year
10
3 years
18
5 years
10
10 years
17
15 years
9
20 years or more
22
a
Two study participants did not answer this question.
Survey Part 4
The respondents identified a number of important changes they believed the DOC might
make to reduce staff turnover. Improved pay was by far the most commonly cited change
(89.9% of respondents). Similarly, 29.2% made reference to improved insurance and benefits.
Almost 32% described the need for improved treatment and recognition of officers.
Other changes were mentioned with less frequency. These included improved
communication and teamwork (9%), hiring of additional staff (5.6%), improved hiring
practices (3.4%), improvements to work environment safety (3.4%), provision of better
equipment (3.4%), improved opportunities for promotion (2.2%), and better public
perceptions of corrections (1.1%).
Discussion and Conclusion
A high level of correctional staff turnover can feed off itself to exacerbate problems, impair
organizational effectiveness, and promote even more turnover. We have suggested that
any correctional agency can benefit by identifying and attending to factors its employees
perceive as important in promoting and controlling turnover. These employees are
uniquely positioned to understand the problem due to their own direct experiences as well
as their interactions with and observations of other employees.
The causal attributions people make about issues they encounter affect their expectations
and behaviors (Carver & Scheier, 2008; Schunk, 2008). It is reasonable to believe that
employees of all organizations have ideas about causes of organizational problems generally
and, in particular, about why people might leave an organization. Direct and vicarious
experiences in an organization help establish and confirm (or disconfirm) employees’
attributions regarding organizational problems, and in this ongoing manner, employee
attributions concerning turnover could affect turnover intents and ultimately behavior.
Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in Corrections
Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009 51
In many respects, the participants in this study mirrored the traditional prototype of
correctional officers. For instance, they were employed in a rural geographical area in a
medium security male institution. They were predominantly male, Caucasian, middle
aged, lacking a college degree, and employed in line positions. Almost 21% indicated they
were likely to leave the DOC over the next three years, and 11.5% said they were likely to
leave within a year. This one-year intent figure approaches the lower end of the 12 to 25%
actual turnover range referenced in the literature (Lambert, 2001) but is only about half
the most recently available (2006–2007) DOC-wide actual figure of 21%. By the same
token, the facility seems to have a relatively stable core of staff planning to retire from the
DOC. More than 55% of the respondents said they planned to stay with the DOC for 10
years or longer, and more than a quarter intended to stay 20 years or more. On average,
respondents had already worked at the facility for nearly 7 years. So there is evidence of
core stability amid higher than desired levels of turnover.
It is worth noting that there was minimal variation across subgroups of staff in their
perceptions of reasons for turnover. From the standpoint of statistical significance, women
rated inadequate pay at a higher level of importance than men, but the mean difference in
ratings was too small (0.22 points) to be of much practical significance. There were also a
few significant correlations by education and age, but, all in all, there was a strong pattern
of homogeneity in staff perceptions. Perhaps most important, there were no significant
differences in ratings by employee rank. Line officers and supervisors provided similar
ratings. The same holds for tenure in the field of corrections generally, tenure with the
DOC, and tenure at the facility. In this study, therefore, there is no evidence that turnover
attributions are a function of rank or tenure.
People who have spent time employed in the field know that corrections work can be
demanding, stressful, and potentially dangerous. It is too frequently characterized by low
pay and a dearth of other rewards, such as status and recognition from the public,
supervisors, and other parties. Such as they exist, rewards are largely intrinsic and come
in the form of employees believing they are performing the job effectively, both individually
and as part of the organization (i.e., a sense of efficacy). In short, the job is very important
but, in many respects, thankless. Intrinsic rewards, such as believing that one is able to
help make a positive difference, become paramount almost by default.
The data from this study support this portrayal of correctional work. Specifically, the
respondents perceived staff turnover as resulting from insufficient pay and benefits as well
as from the availability of alternative employment. Almost all respondents listed low pay
as one of the top three reasons for turnover among new recruits. Pay received the highest
mean rating of any item in Part 2 of the survey, and almost 90% of respondents said the
DOC could reduce turnover by improving pay. However, only 11.2% of respondents cited
Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, and Angel
52 Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009
poor pay as a reason they personally intended to leave the DOC. Clearly, then, poor pay
received more weight in accounting for the turnover of coworkers than for explaining
employees’ own intentions. Indeed, other researchers have not found pay and benefits to
affect turnover significantly (e.g., Camp, 1994; Lambert, 2006).
However, perceptions of alternative employment may be a different matter entirely.
Recall that in his model, Lambert (2001) hypothesized that turnover intentions were a
direct outcome of perceptions of alternative employment availability. And, in fact,
Kiekbusch et al. (2003) reported that perceptions of the economy and outside job
opportunities were predictive of turnover among jail employees. By definition, though,
perceptions of alternative employment are fluid and contingent on the time frame a study
considers. Interestingly, the data for this study were collected during the latter part of 2007
and early in 2008, a few months before the major downturn in the United States economy
that became manifest in mid 2008 with the fall of the housing market, soaring fuel prices,
and the ensuing demise of banks, securities, and major corporations. Along with these
developments, unemployment became so problematic that massive job creation has been
made central to the Obama Administration’s economic recovery plan. These develop-
ments are bound to influence the role of perceived alternative employment opportunities
in affecting turnover. At present (first quarter of 2009), fewer staff in the DOC studied
(relative to the number surveyed in late 2007 and early 2008) might see alternative
employment prospects as plentiful or desirable, but this could change with success from
job creation initiatives and added competition for workers.
Some of the less tangible but no less important work environment factors that have
been linked to turnover in past research (e.g., Byrd et al., 2000; Lambert, 2006; Mitchell et
al., 2000) also emerged in this study. A sizeable proportion of respondents (nearly 30%)
identified interpersonal conflicts as one of the top three reasons for employee turnover,
almost as many cited stress, and more than 20% referenced unfavorable treatment from
supervisors. Similarly, also receiving high ratings were the items in Part 2 dealing with officers
feeling that management does not understand problems faced on the job and officers feeling
they lack say over matters affecting them. Nearly 32% of respondents identified better
treatment and recognition of officers as a means for the DOC to control turnover.
Some of the perceptions just described (i.e., unfavorable treatment and lack of
recognition from superiors, feeling misunderstood, and sensing a lack of say over matters
directly affecting officers), when combined with the perceptions of insufficient pay and
benefits mentioned above, paint a portrait of officers perceiving themselves as devalued
for what they do. It is reasonable to suppose that people who perform work that is
demanding, stressful, potentially dangerous, and yet very necessary to society need to
sense their contributions and sacrifices are valued. However, this is unlikely to the extent
Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in Corrections
Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009 53
employees believe that their pay and benefits are inadequate, they are not sufficiently
recognized in other ways, they are poorly treated, and their input is nonexistent or
disregarded. The outcome is likely to be a converse sense of devaluation.
The devaluation construct underscores the point made earlier about correctional work
involving a paucity of external rewards, such that motivation to continue in the field
becomes heavily reliant upon intrinsic factors. One of the foremost of these factors may
be individual and collective efficacy (Bandura, 1997, 2001). Unfortunately data to address
the issue are lacking from the present study, but a tenable hypothesis is that increases in
both turnover intentions and behavior are especially probable when perceptions of
devaluation of the kind this research uncovered conjoin with perceptions of low efficacy
among staff. When this occurs, there is nothing to bind the employee to the agency,
except perhaps the need for a paycheck and benefits of some form; ergo, the
attractiveness of alternative employment.
Low efficacy perceptions could arise from any number of conceivable sources not
assessed in this study (e.g., jurisdictional policy changes, physical limitations developed
by an employee, absence of resources for inmate programming, political dynamics, etc.).
However, an important potential source that did surface in this study (as a factor important
in promoting turnover) involves conflicts with coworkers or supervisors. A work
environment riddled with conflict among staff is hardly one where staff are likely to believe
they are advancing organizational goals in an optimal way. A further source of low efficacy
could be high levels of employee turnover among coworkers. As pointed out earlier, high
turnover consumes resources that could be used to promote effectiveness in other areas
of an organization. It can lead to breakdowns in continuity, job stress, burnout, and
mistakes. In short, staff conflict and turnover are not conducive to a sense of efficacy
among people who remain in the organization.
The findings of this study imply the need for continued efforts to improve the pay and
benefits of correctional officers, at least in the facility studied and in similar ones. It would
be easy to minimize the importance of such efforts in view of: (a) the finding that more
employees see inadequate pay and benefits as important in accounting for turnover
among other staff than in accounting for their own personal turnover intents and (b) other
research showing that pay and benefits are not significantly related to turnover (see
Lambert, 2006). Still, the presence of a substantial proportion of staff who believe poor
pay and benefits are among the top reasons their coworkers leave the organization is
likely to detract from morale and organizational effectiveness. Also, it seems clear that
efforts to improve pay and benefits are important for recruiting top quality staff to the field.
Additionally, inadequate pay and benefits constitute one, but certainly not the only
and possibly not even the most important, basis for employees feeling devalued for their
Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, and Angel
54 Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009
work. Concerns over pay and benefits may become intensified to the extent that these are
part of a larger composite of factors promoting a sense of devaluation. Examples of other
factors this study identified include perceptions of unfavorable treatment, lack of
understanding and recognition, and lack of opportunity for input. This implies the need for
initiatives other than improved pay and benefits to make staff feel more valued.
For instance, some jurisdictions have instituted periodic recognitions for officers
exhibiting excellent performance. However, initiatives need not be so formal or
competitive to be effective. An administrator who practices “management by walking
around,” takes time to inform staff that they are valued and appreciated, and endeavors to
establish rapport with subordinates can accomplish a great deal in this regard.
In terms of opportunities for staff input, there are various ways to increase
participation in decision making and promote greater staff autonomy. Interestingly
enough, such initiatives have also been demonstrated to be associated with reductions in
job stress (Auerbach, Quick, & Pegg, 2003; Dowden & Tellier, 2004; Wright, Saylor,
Gilman, & Camp, 1997), another major factor that staff in this study saw as contributing to
turnover. And in fact, Slate and Vogel (1997) reported that thoughts about quitting among
correctional staff are linked with perceptions of an organizational atmosphere that is
negative toward staff participation in decision making.
Staff members usually have much knowledge of problems and issues faced at their
facilities. A more decentralized, participative approach to institutional management that
makes use of advisory groups and decision-making bodies comprising staff can draw
upon this knowledge. The point is to minimize line staff detachment from management
and managerial issues. Approaches of this nature could also promote a heightened sense
of efficacy among staff (cf. Wells, Minor, Angel, Matz, & Amato, 2009).
Future research seems warranted into staff perceptions surrounding the turnover
problem. Data for the present study came from a single facility, the number of cases was
limited, and the data obtained were largely descriptive in nature. Future investigations could use
larger samples with greater variation in staff demographics and facilities. While descriptive
studies such as this are valuable for generating hypotheses, data collection instruments could
be redesigned to allow for more inferential analyses and multivariate modeling.
This study raises the need for additional inquiry into possible discrepancies between
why employees believe their coworkers exhibit turnover and why they personally con-
template leaving. Likewise, the construct of devaluation this study developed should
receive more attention, specifically attention to further establishing construct validity and
examining the potential sources. Finally, future investigations could explore the interaction
this study proposed between perceptions of devaluation and low perceptions of efficacy
as a reason for staff opting to explore alternative employment. It may turn out that in a
Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in Corrections
Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009 55
model such as the one Lambert (2001) proposed, perceptions of alternative employment
mediate the effects of devaluation and low perceptions of efficacy on turnover intents. If
research was to establish the importance of such a connection in prompting decisions to
leave, efforts designed to promote a greater sense of valuation among staff could be
integrated with initiatives to foster greater efficacy and overcome bureaucratic and political
barriers to staff sensing they are accomplishing something worthwhile in their work with
offenders. In short, the subject of correctional staff turnover continues to provide fertile
ground for theory and research.
References
Auerbach, S. M., Quick, B. G., & Pegg, P. O. (2003). General job stress and job-specific
stress in juvenile correctional officers. Journal of Criminal Justice, 31, 25–36.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.
Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual Review of
Psychology, 52, 1–26.
Byrd, T. G., Cochran, J. K., Silverman, I. J., & Blount, W. R. (2000). Behind bars: An
assessment of the effects of job satisfaction, job-related stress, and anxiety on jail
employees’ inclinations to quit. Journal of Crime and Justice, 23, 69–93.
Camp, S. D. (1994). Assessing the effects of organizational commitment and job
satisfaction on turnover: An event history approach. The Prison Journal, 74, 279–305.
Carver, C. C., & Scheier, M. F. (2008). Perspectives on personality (6
th
ed.). Boston, MA:
Allyn and Bacon.
Dennis, G. L. (1998). Here today, gone tomorrow: How management style affects job
satisfaction and, in turn, employee turnover. Corrections Today, 60, 96–102.
Dowden, C., & Tellier, C. (2004). Predicting work-related stress in correctional officers: A
meta-analysis. Journal of Criminal Justice, 32, 31–47.
Ford, M. (1995). Job performance and job tenure of jailers. In N. A. Jackson (Ed),
Contemporary issues in criminal justice: Shaping tomorrow’s system (pp. 243–257).
New York: McGraw-Hill.
Griffin, M. L., & Hepburn, J. R. (2005). Side-bets and reciprocity as determinants of
organizational commitment among correctional officers. Journal of Criminal Justice,
33, 611–625.
Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, and Angel
56 Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009
Jacobs, J. B., & Grear, M. P. (1977). Drop outs and rejects: An analysis of the prison
guard’s revolving door. Criminal Justice Review, 2, 57–70.
Jurik, N. C. (1985). An officer and a lady: Organizational barriers to women working as
correctional officers in men’s prisons. Social Problems, 32, 375–388.
Jurik, N. C., Halemba, G. J., Musheno, M. C., & Boyle, B. (1987). Education attainment,
job satisfaction, and the professionalism of correctional officers. Work and
Occupations, 14, 106–125.
Jurik, N. C., & Winn, R. (1987). Describing correctional-security dropout and rejects: An
individual or organizational profile? Criminal Justice and Behavior, 14, 5–25.
Kiekbusch, R., Price, W., & Thesis, J. (2003). Turnover predictions: Causes of employee
turnover in sheriff-operated jails. Criminal Justice Studies, 16, 67–76.
Kirschenbaum, A., &Weisberg, J. (1990). Predicting worker turnover: An assessment of
intent on actual separations. Human Relations, 43, 829–847.
Lambert, E. G. (2001). To stay or quit: A review of the literature on correctional staff
turnover. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 26, 61–76.
Lambert, E. G. (2006). I want to leave: A test of a model of turnover intent among
correctional staff. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 2, 57–83.
Lambert, E. G. (2008). The effect of job involvement on correctional staff. Professional
Issues in Criminal Justice, 3, 1–19.
Lambert, E., & Hogan, N. (2006, November). A test of model of turnover intent among
correctional staff at a midwestern private prison. Paper presented at the annual
meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Los Angeles, CA. Retrieved May, 7,
2008, from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p114872 _index.html (Interlibrary
Loan).
Lambert, E. G., & Hogan, N. (2009). The importance of job satisfaction and organizational
commitment in shaping turnover intent: A test of a causal model. Criminal Justice
Review, 34, 96–118.
McShane, M. D., Williams, F. P., III, Schichor, D., & McClain, K. (1991). Early exits:
Examining employee turnover. Corrections Today, 53, 220–225.
Michaels, C. E., & Spector, P. E. (1982). Causes of employee turnover: A test of the Mobley,
Griffeth, Hand, and Meglino model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67, 53–59.
Mitchell, O., MacKenzie, D. L., Styve, G. J., & Gover, A. (2000). The impact of individual,
organizational, and environmental attributes on voluntary turnover among juvenile
correctional staff members. Justice Quarterly, 17, 333–357.
Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in Corrections
Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol 4(2), 2009 57
Mobley, W. H., Griffeth, R. W., Hand, H. H., & Meglino, B. M. (1979). Review and
conceptual analysis of the employee turnover process. Psychological Bulletin, 86,
493–522.
Price, J., & Mueller, C. (1986). Absenteeism and turnover among hospital employees.
Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Robinson, D., Porporino, F. J., & Simourd, L. (1997). The influence of educational
attainment on the attitudes and job performance of correctional officers. Crime &
Delinquency, 43, 60–77.
Roseman, E. (1981). Managing employee turnover: A positive approach. New York:
Amacom.
Schunk, D. H. (2008). Learning theories: An educational perspective (5
th
ed.). Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Slate, R. N., & Vogel, R. E. (1997). Participative management and correctional personnel:
A study of the perceived atmosphere for participation in correctional decision making
and its impact on employee stress and thoughts about quitting. Journal of Criminal
Justice, 25, 397–408.
Stohr, M. K., Self, R. L., & Lovrich, N. P. (1992). Staff turnover in new generation jails: An
investigation of its causes and prevention. Journal of Criminal Justice, 20, 455–478.
Tipton, J. A. (2002). Attitudes and perceptions of South Carolina’s juvenile correctional
officers, insight into the turnover epidemic. Journal of Crime & Justice, 25, 81–98.
Udechukwu, I., Harrington, W., Manyak, T., Segal, S., & Graham, S. (2007). The Georgia
Department of Corrections: An exploratory reflection on correctional officer turnover
and its correlates. Public Personal Management, 36, 247–268.
Wells, J. B., Minor, K. I., Angel, E., Matz, A. K., & Amato, N. (2009). Predictors of job
stress among staff in juvenile correctional facilities. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36,
245–258.
Wright, K. N. (1994). Effective prison leadership. Binghamton, NY: William Neil.
Wright, K. N., Saylor, W. G., Gilman, E., & Camp, C. (1997). Job control and occupational
outcomes among prison workers. Justice Quarterly, 14, 525–546.
Wright, T. A. (1993). Correctional employee turnover: A longitudinal study. Journal of
Criminal Justice, 21, 131–142.
... The results of this panel are unsurprising. Factors such as job variety, role clarity, and quality of supervision (Abderhalden et al., 2021;Jiang et al., 2016;Keena et al., 2018;May et al., 2020), levels of perceived autonomy (Avdjiva & Roy, 2012;Jurik & Halemba, 1984;Minor et al., 2009), and levels of perceived supervisory support (Minor et al., 2009;Ricclardell & Power, 2020;Whitehead & Lindquist, 1986) have been explicated in the literature as correlates of low job satisfaction among correctional officers. Outside of demographic factors (e.g., race, age, gender, tenure, and education level), very few studies have examined how personal characteristics impact job satisfaction (Lambert et al., 2002). ...
... The results of this panel are unsurprising. Factors such as job variety, role clarity, and quality of supervision (Abderhalden et al., 2021;Jiang et al., 2016;Keena et al., 2018;May et al., 2020), levels of perceived autonomy (Avdjiva & Roy, 2012;Jurik & Halemba, 1984;Minor et al., 2009), and levels of perceived supervisory support (Minor et al., 2009;Ricclardell & Power, 2020;Whitehead & Lindquist, 1986) have been explicated in the literature as correlates of low job satisfaction among correctional officers. Outside of demographic factors (e.g., race, age, gender, tenure, and education level), very few studies have examined how personal characteristics impact job satisfaction (Lambert et al., 2002). ...
Article
Correctional staff turnover has been linked to burnout in current staff, risk of physical injury due to understaffing, and high replacement costs due to onboarding processes. To date, much research has been devoted to job characteristics and demographic profiles to understand turnover, but little research has examined highly dynamic factors, such as self-efficacy. Given that self-efficacy has been linked to absenteeism, turnover, and engagement across vocational contexts, the current study seeks to provide practitioners and researchers with the tools to examine self-efficacy through the Correctional Officer Trainee Self-Efficacy Index. Comprising each task that correctional officer training academies train in, the self-efficacy index can be used to identify areas improvement in curricula or in individual officer development throughout training. Using the graded response model of item response theory, we examine item-level properties of the index using a sample of 673 pre-service correctional officers across two Midwestern and one Southern state. Results indicated that the self-efficacy indices loaded onto two factors. Each item had high discrimination, and the range of difficulty parameters for the items was wide. Overall, the correctional officer trainee task self-efficacy index is effective for those with low to high self-efficacy for correctional officer tasks.
... This inconsistency strains officers (Gilbert, 1997;Liebling, 2000). Role conflict or role ambiguity for correctional officers can lead to stress, burnout, and high rates of turnover (Leip & Stinchcomb, 2013;Matz, Wells, Minor, & Angel, 2013;Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, & Angel, 2009). ...
... For example, our findings suggest that providing quality food to COs while at work, considering the comfort of their uniforms, and increasing the duration of at-work breaks for COs could improve both morale and reduce stress. This is consistent with past scholarship indicating that morale is crucial to workplace well-being (Minor et al., 2009(Minor et al., , 2014Sudom et al., 2006). In turn, these policy shifts are likely to help reduce levels of unwellness that are so pervasively documented among American COs today. ...
Article
Full-text available
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.
... The results of this panel are unsurprising. Factors such as job variety, role clarity, and quality of supervision (Abderhalden et al., 2019;Jiang et al., 2016;Keena et al., 2018;May et al., 2020), levels of perceived autonomy (Avdija & Roy, 2012;Jurik & Halemba, 1984;Minor et al., 2009), and levels of perceived supervisory support (Minor et al., 2009;Ricclardell & Power, 2020;Whitehead & Lindquist, 1986) have been explicated in the literature as correlates of low job satisfaction among correctional officers. Outside of demographic factors (e.g., race, age, gender, tenure, and education level), very few studies have examined how personal characteristics impact job satisfaction (Lambert et al., 2002). ...
... The results of this panel are unsurprising. Factors such as job variety, role clarity, and quality of supervision (Abderhalden et al., 2019;Jiang et al., 2016;Keena et al., 2018;May et al., 2020), levels of perceived autonomy (Avdija & Roy, 2012;Jurik & Halemba, 1984;Minor et al., 2009), and levels of perceived supervisory support (Minor et al., 2009;Ricclardell & Power, 2020;Whitehead & Lindquist, 1986) have been explicated in the literature as correlates of low job satisfaction among correctional officers. Outside of demographic factors (e.g., race, age, gender, tenure, and education level), very few studies have examined how personal characteristics impact job satisfaction (Lambert et al., 2002). ...
Preprint
Correctional staff turnover has been linked to burnout in current staff, risk of physical injury due to understaffing, and high replacement costs due to onboarding processes. To date, much research has been devoted to job characteristics and demographic profiles to understand turnover, but little research has examined highly dynamic factors, such as self-efficacy. Given that self-efficacy has been linked to absenteeism, turnover, and engagement across vocational contexts, the current study seeks to provide practitioners and researchers with the tools to examine self-efficacy through the Correctional Officer Trainee Self-Efficacy Index. Comprising each task that correctional officer training academies train in, the self-efficacy index can be used to identify areas improvement in curricula or in individual officer development throughout training. Using the graded response model of item response theory, we examine item-level properties of the index using a sample of 673 pre-service correctional officers across two Midwestern and one Southern state. Results indicated that the self-efficacy indices loaded onto two factors. Each item had high discrimination, and the range of difficulty parameters for the items was wide. Overall, the correctional officer trainee task self-efficacy index is effective for those with low to high self-efficacy for correctional officer tasks.
... In other words, the job is low skilled, low paying, and dissatisfying (Lambert et al., 2009;National Compensation Survey, 2021). As a result, turnover rates are disconcertingly high among those who perform this work, with national estimates reporting that one in four guards quits every three years (Minor et al., 2009(Minor et al., , 2011Russo et al., 2018). Furthermore, guards may be viewed as lacking the skills to do their jobs effectively. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
This dissertation presents primary data from a 2022 national survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by YouGov. The survey instrument measured public perceptions toward 16 outcomes, including the respondents’: views of officers (“hacks” or “heroes”); ratings of occupational status; preferred role for officers (custody or treatment); perceived value (salary, importance of, confidence in); and acceptance of officers’ use of force and support for reducing misconduct in the occupation. This dissertation also attempts to explain the variation in perceptions toward correctional officers. Based on prior research, five theoretical models are examined: the racial model, correctional attitudes model, political model, crime/danger model, and prison contact model.
... Turnover can be defined as a condition where employees resign or leave an organization (Snell and that there is a voluntary element of the employee, meaning that the intention to leave the organization is not because of a contract or termination (Minor et al., 2009). This term is known as voluntary turnover (Noe et al., 2011). ...
... The difficulties of working in YRFs may compound preexisting risk factors. Correctional contexts, including YRFs, are uniquely taxing, stressful, and unsafe work environments, with consequences for workforce productivity, turnover, and mental and physical health (Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, & Angel, 2009;Watson, Marszalek, Dispenza, & Davids, 2015). The current paper provides recommendations to improve staff well-being and job functioning through an integration of three distinct literatures. ...
Article
Full-text available
We outline the understudied challenges and needs of the Youth Residential Facility (YRF) workforce. We integrating trauma‐informed care and settings theory, we describe YRFs as trauma‐organized settings. We critique the person‐mediated emphasis of current trauma‐informed approaches. We make recommendations to shift problematic YRF regularities by focusing on safety, relationships, and YRF workforce well‐being. Each year approximately 48,000 youth are incarcerated in residential placement facilities (YRFs) in the United States. The limited existing literature addressing the workforce in these settings paints a complicated picture. The YRF workforce is highly motivated to work with legal system involved youth. However, YRF staff report high rates of burnout, job fatigue, and work‐related stress. The current paper proposes solutions to persistent problems faced by staff in these settings by integrating literature from criminology, organizational psychology, trauma‐informed care, and community psychology. In doing so, we highlight previously overlooked aspects of intervention for trauma‐organized settings and respond to recent calls for community psychologists to take a more active role in the adaptation of trauma‐informed care in community settings. We conclude by advancing three recommendations, drawn from setting‐level theory and inspired by the principles of trauma‐informed care, to transform YRFs.
... In fact, Lambert, Hogan, and Barton (2001) and Lambert (2006) have constructed causal models of turnover intent to examine direct and indirect influence of turnover decisions. By contrast, other scholars have raised concerns that intent does not predict actual turnover (Lambert, Hogan, & Barton, 2002;Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, & Angel, 2009). Given the controversy in the literature, both constructs warrant further investigation. ...
Article
Full-text available
The approximately 20% turnover rate among correctional officers in juvenile facilities adds undue financial and morale costs to facilities that already face budget constraints. This study used exit interviews (N = 173) from 2012 to 2015 from a state juvenile justice agency to examine factors impacting voluntary turnover decisions among correctional and non-correctional employees. Juvenile correctional officers reported lower levels of job satisfaction and voluntarily left the organization at a higher rate than non-correctional employees. Employees also significantly differed in their reasons to leave; correctional staff primarily cited concerns over safety and a desire to return to school, whereas non-correctional staff were more likely to leave due to retirement. Exit surveys were a valuable tool that allowed the authors to gain quantitative and qualitative insight into retention and turnover for juvenile justice agencies.
Article
Approximately 1.7 million delinquency cases are disposed in juvenile courts annually (Puzzanchera, Adams, & Sickmund, 2011). Of these youth, tens of thousands experience confinement in the US (Sawyer, 2019), while hundreds of thousands experience probation or are sentenced to community based programs (Harp, Muhlhausen, & Hockenberry, 2019). These youth are placed in the care of programs overseen by directors and clinicians. A survey of facility directors and clinicians from member agencies of the National Partnership for Juvenile Services (NPJS) Behavioral Health Clinical Services (BHCS) committee identified three primary concerns practitioners face in caring for these youth; 1) low resources to recruit and retain quality staff, 2) training that is often not a match for, and does not equip staff to effectively manage the complex needs of acute youth, and 3) the perspective of direct care as an unskilled entry-level position with limited impact on youth’s rehabilitation. This article seeks to address these issues and seeks to highlight potential best practices to re-solve for those obstacles within juvenile services.
Thesis
Full-text available
A significant predictor of correctional officer turnover is stress and, as both a predictor and a correlate of stress, prisoner aggression. Prisoner aggression and hostility are problems in correctional organizations, and there have been many attempts to curtail the phenomena. A potential predictor of prisoner aggression and hostility is social jetlag. Social jetlag is the misalignment of internal circadian rhythms—responsible for sleep-wake cycles—and external schedules. Social jetlag significantly predicts insomnia, sleep deprivation, moodiness, unethical behavior, and aggression. Sleep deprivation also predicts moodiness and aggression. Prisons have very early-start sleep-wake schedules (e.g., wake at 5:00 a.m. and sleep at 9:00 p.m.) whereas a majority of people (~85%) in industrialized countries do not have early-start circadian rhythms. It is possible that prisoners experiencing social jetlag also experience aggression and hostility, and that this phenomena may be reduced if prisons begin their daily schedules starting later in the day. By reducing social jetlag, and thereby reducing prisoner aggression, it may also reduce correctional officer turnover, thus saving prisons a significant amount of money, as turnover is very costly. A proposed workshop is presented to outline the research with respect to prisoner aggression, social jetlag, correctional officer turnover, and prison schedules.
Article
Correctional research has just begun to explore the effects of variables and their differences over the course of a career within the field. This study examined several correctional staff outcomes and how they varied over three identified career stages (initial, establishment, and maintenance) at a state-government operated prison. Results indicated that job involvement, job satisfaction, affective commitment, moral commitment, and turnover intent were highest during the initial stage of employment, which is contrary to other occupations. Job stress and continuance commitment remained equal across all three career stages. Findings suggest that the effects on career stages are contextual and vary across different types of organizations. Furthermore, the strains and stresses of working in a correctional institution may not be cumulative but remain steady across a career.
Article
Full-text available
An exploratory study was conducted to determine the reasons for correctional officer turnover at the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC). The results indicated that job satisfaction and organizational commitment were factors predicting turnover trend for correctional officers at the agency. Components of job satisfaction such as recognition, compensation, salaries, advancement, creativity, responsibility, moral values and achievement were significantly predictive of turnover for correctional officers. Affective and normative commitment—components of organizational commitment—were also found to be significantly predictive of correctional officer turnover. In addition, this result was achieved only when turnover was conceptualized as intention to quit. This study finds intention to quit to be a better predictor of turnover than actual turnover data.
Article
Full-text available
High turnover among prison guards has long been noted as a problem plaguing corrections. This study indicates that turnover among rank and file employees results from organizational and cultural strains within the formal organization. A sample survey of 55 former prison guards indicates that the most significant variable in explaining the termination of their prison work is race. Young urban black guards tend to find themselves in conflict with the top echelon in the custodial force while the white recruits have difficulty normalizing relations with the minority inmates.
Article
High turnover among correctional workers is a chronic problem in today's prisons. Despite the concern surrounding this issue, there is little empirical research that deals with the instability of prison staffs. This article attempts to identify the major predictors of correctional officer turnover in one minimum-medium security prison in the western United States. Multivariate discriminant analyses suggest that three factors are of primary importance in distinguishing continuing from terminating officers—race, opportunities to influence institutional policy decisions, and most important, satisfaction with perceived working conditions. The findings suggest that the development of individual personality profiles may lead correctional administrators to overlook the role of prison organizational environments in contributing to security staff turnover.
Article
The driving force of corrections is the staff of correctional facilities. It is important to understand how the work environment shapes the attitudes of correctional staff; yet, the effect of job involvement on correctional employees has received little, if any, attention. Most of the research to date has focused on job stress and job satisfaction among correctional staff. Only recently has there been research on other important work attitudes, such as job involvement. Job involvement may have important effects on salient work outcomes. Therefore, there is a need to explore how job involvement may influence correctional staff job stress, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, life satisfaction, turnover intentions, family-on-work conflict, and work-on-family conflict. By using data acquired from a survey of staff of a state-run correctional facility in the Midwest, the researcher examined the effects of job involvement on correctional staff job stress, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, life satisfaction, turnover intentions, family-on-work conflict, and work-on-family conflict. After controlling for gender, age, tenure, position, educational level, race, and supervisory status, the researcher conducted a multivariate analysis, which indicated that job involvement had a statistically significant positive relationship with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and both forms of work-family conflict. Job involvement was observed to have non-significant direct effects on correctional staff job stress, life satisfaction, and turnover intentions.
Article
Employee turnover has long been a problematic issue in the field of corrections. In the past, research has attempted to identify causal factors to address the staff attrition issue, but has failed to complete the void of information regarding staff turnover among the juvenile correctional officers. The current study examines juvenile correctional staff's degree of job satisfaction and their retention plans. The multidimensional problem of staff turnover in South Carolina's Department of Juvenile Justice was examined through a secondary analysis utilizing the 1999 Employee Satisfaction Survey. This study revealed the similarities between adult and juvenile correctional staff and why these staff members may potentially leave their jobs. Results from the study revealed the complexity of the turnover problem within this South Carolina agency and supports previous research regarding the turnover problem among adult correctional officers.
Article
This paper examines the barriers confronting women employed as correctional officers in men's prisons, using interview, questionnaire, and historical data from a state department of corrections in the western United States. The department has extended employment opportunities to women at the same time as it has initiated a variety of other reforms aimed at rationalizing the treatment of both inmates and correctional staff. However, within the present setting, several organizational problems have frustrated administrative attempts at correctional reform and actually increased perceptions of danger in prison facilities. The resulting organizational milieu has accentuated suspicions surrounding the competence of women to work as correctional officers in men's prisons. Combined with the continued presence of informal opportunity structures, these fears and suspicions have inhibited the advancement of women in the department. This analysis illustrates the interplay between organizational factors and individual attitudes in shaping the opportunities for women in one non-traditional occupational setting.