Increasing attention is being paid to the importance of the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of corrections officers and other prison staff, since working in such facilities is “a high stress and high trauma occupation” that can lead to high levels of mental and physical health problems, suicide, alcoholism, and other negative outcomes.Michael D. Denhof, Caterina G. Spinaris, and Gregory R. Morton, Occupational Stressors in Corrections Organizations: Types, Effects and Solutions (Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections, 2014); Cláudia de Magalhães Bezerra, Simone Gonçalves de Assis and Patricia Constantino, “Psychological Distress and Work Stress in Correctional Officers: A Literature Review,” Ciência & Saúde Coletiva 21 no. 7 (2016); and Huber, Rope, and Sheahan, Global Prison Trends 2017 (2017). More research is needed to fully understand the impact of working in prisons on staff wellness.
In California—which has one of the largest prison systems in the United States—members of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association are participating in an extensive, multiyear study of corrections staff to assess the need for mental health services.Simone Weichselbaum, “For Corrections Officers and Cops, a New Focus on Mental Health,” The Marshall Project, June 14, 2017. Vera is also currently undertaking a study to assess the impact on staff wellness of working in solitary confinement or restrictive housing units, which are thought to be particularly stressful environments.Léon Digard, “Examining the Use of Restrictive Housing and its Impact on Officer Wellbeing,” Vera Institute of Justice.