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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 192457 Find in a Library
Title: Fatal Attraction: An Analysis of Employee Boundary Violations in a Southern Prison System, 1995-1998
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:18  Issue:4  Dated:December 2001  Pages:877-910
Author(s): James W. Marquart; Maldine B. Barnhill; Kathy Balshaw-Biddle
Date Published: December 2001
Page Count: 34
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Prison employees are trained to maintain their distance from prisoners and to do their jobs professionally without personal entanglements or abuse of prisoners in any way; this study examined "boundary" violations among 508 Texas State prison security staff members disciplined between January 1, 1995, and December 31, 1998.
Abstract: Data were obtained from the personnel files of these employees. In addition to general employee data, each file contained the case and investigation history surrounding the circumstances and factors and/or actions leading to the investigation of the employee for violating Rule 42, which prohibits employees from continuing or establishing any personal relationships with inmates/clients or with family members of inmates/clients which jeopardizes, or has the potential to jeopardize, the security of the agency or compromises the effectiveness of the employee. The study produced several important findings with implications for correctional personnel management, training, theory, and research on occupational deviance in penal settings. The most important finding was that inappropriate employee-inmate relationships must be understood as "boundary" violations. Dual/overlapping relationships were the most frequent form of deviance; typically they involved female employees who became romantically involved with prisoners. Boundary violations, especially dual relationships, involved a process or sequence of behaviors that transpired over weeks and months. The comparative analysis also found that employees who broke the custodial frame were significantly more likely to be Anglos and females who had a GED and no military experience. Other findings were that inappropriate employee-inmate relationships unfolded in specific situations, with the most common context involving "lovesick" female employees who, through manipulation by inmates or their own volition, negated the role differences between themselves and the inmate. Most custodial violations occurred within 36 months of employment. The study concludes that research is needed on the effects of sex-role spillover in prisons. 4 tables and 66 references
Main Term(s): Correctional staff management
Index Term(s): Correctional Officers; Female correctional guards; Inmate staff relations; Professional conduct and ethics; Professional misconduct; Sexual behavior; Texas
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