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NCJ Number: 221719 Find in a Library
Title: Doing God's Work Behind Bars: Chaplains' Reactions to Employment in Prison
Journal: Journal of Offender Rehabilitation  Volume:45  Issue:3/4  Dated:2007  Pages:131-157
Author(s): Jody L. Sundt; Francis T. Cullen
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 27
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study explored the experiences of a national sample of prison chaplains' employment in correctional institutions.
Abstract: Despite persistent cultural and legal doubts about the appropriate role of religion in American prisons and shifting occupational expectations, prison chaplains are remarkably happy employees who appear to cope well with the demands of their work. Virtually all of the chaplains in the study were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their jobs. A general comparison of these results to those found in other studies of correctional employees suggests that prison chaplains feel more positively about their work than their colleagues. Although chaplains provide direct services to inmates and corrections officers, often in highly emotional situations, they report low to moderate levels of work stress, and there was no evidence suggesting that prison chaplains felt strained by their work. Like other prison employees, chaplains’ work experiences were shaped by job characteristics. In particular, role conflict was the strongest predictor of both job satisfaction and work stress, and role problems had a deleterious effect on correctional employees regardless of job title. Job dangerousness was also found to affect prison chaplains’ levels of work stress. Fear of work-place victimization is an important occupational stressor among prison employees, especially for chaplains who spend time with inmates in their living and other common areas where the risk of victimization may be higher. Features of work that are unique to a particular occupation also influence work outcomes; what chaplains do at work affects how they feel about their job; time spent on administrative tasks and coordinating religious programs rather than “doing God’s work” was associated with greater levels of work stress. The analysis was based on a sample of 232 prisons chaplains, data were collected through the mailing of a self-administered questionnaire. Tables, notes, references, appendix
Main Term(s): Chaplains; Correctional staff orientation; Work attitudes
Index Term(s): Corrections occupational stress; Faith-Based Inmate Assistance Programs; Stress assessment; Work loads; Workplace
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