The American Correctional Association (ACA), in partnership with ARAMARK Correctional Services, has presented research results indicating that “quality and morale” of correctional officers is paramount among that group’s top concerns.
On a 10-point scale, officer quality and morale came in with a 9.2 weighted mean score. Other “high priority” issues include lack of mental and medical health professionals (7.9), security and violence within the facilities (7.7), shrinking budgets (7.7), lack of transition and rehabilitation services (7.7), inmate health (7.7), and food and facilities management (7.2).
The findings were delivered during the ACA August meeting in New Orleans and reaffirm the industry’s commitment to developing the corrections’ workforce to better manage the country’s ever-increasing inmate population.
“Every day, our teams work in hundreds of jails and prisons across the United States,” said Tim Campbell, president of ARAMARK Correctional Services, which provides food, commissary, and facility management in correctional facilities. “This collaborative research allows us to leverage our industry knowledge to develop innovative programs that help our partners perform their duties, maintain positive inmate behavior as well as save taxpayers’ dollars.”
“We wanted to determine the top issues facing our members in order to help provide them with the education and training necessary to mitigate the challenges,” said James Gondles, Jr., executive director of the ACA. The industry group has developed a Center for the Correctional Workforce of the Future, with funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and plans to develop targeted programming based on the research findings.
More than 80% of the 205 respondents to the 2007 online survey serve as jail administrators or wardens managing facilities with an average size of 763 inmate beds. Two-thirds represented either city or county jails while one-third reported from state prison systems.
To identify the key issues tested in the study, one-on-one interviews were conducted with wardens and jail administrators from across the country as were a series of correctional officer focus groups. Their responses resulted in a list of 35 issues which were then grouped by interrelated concerns, resulting in the seven top concerns.
The resulting white paper, “Effective Partnership: A Reorientation of Managed Services to Focus on Corrections Outcomes,” can be found on the ARAMARK Web Site at www.aramark.com/RelatedFiles/acawhitepaper.pdf.