Impact of female employees in adult all-male correctional institutions



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This paper presents the results of an exploratory study of the impact of female employment in adult all-male correctional institutions. Information was gathered through a survey of correctional institutions in the United States, Israel, and Sweden, and through a case study of the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC), Huntsville, Texas, and in particular, the Ferguson Unit of that department. Questionnaires or personal letters were sent to the Directors of all correctional systems surveyed. Inmates, staff, and administrators were interviewed regarding the effects female employment in the education program had had on the persons involved and on the system itself. The survey indicated that more than four hundred and forty women are employed in thirty-two different Jobs within adult all-male correctional institutions. Directors reported both advantages and disadvantages to such employment. The positive impact women have had at Ferguson (a minimum security unit for first offenders, ages seventeen through twenty-three) included: a boost in morale for inmates and staff; release of tension for the inmates; motivation for achievement in education; motivation for improvement in personal grooming and behavior patterns; increased respect for the system because administrators had allowed women to teach in the unit; self-enhancement (boost in ego when seen as an individual); feelings of women caring and understanding; retention of male identity as an individual; and a connection to the outside. The negative impact included: inmate feelings of increased pressure from the guards; restriction of topics appropriate in classroom discussions; increased pressure on the part of guards and administrators to maintain strict surveillance and control of inmates; special scheduling to overcome architectural design that did not generally allow for the presence of women in the unit, and privacy of the men in the shower and urinal areas. The Texas study, however, indicated that similar advantages and disadvantages exist, but that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in the present program of female employment. This attitude was present across the full range of the power continuum (i.e., from inmates to the Director). Many persons are anxious to see the program expanded, particularly to include the area of counseling.



Correctional institutions, Employees