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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 72814 Find in a Library
Title: Should Women Guards Work in Prisons for Men?
Journal: Corrections Magazine  Volume:6  Issue:5  Dated:(October 1980)  Pages:30-35,37-38
Author(s): J Potter
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the controversy surrounding women working in men's prisons. The types of prison jobs and the positions of the inmates, female corrections officers, prison administrators, and legislatures are presented.
Abstract: Both the women's movement and the difficulty of hiring male guards have contributed to the increasing number of women corrections officers in men's prisons. Most of the positions in men's prisons do not really require great size or strength. Although women have been working as clerks, counselors, and corrections officers on towers and observation posts, the focus is now on housing areas. Many women want these jobs in prisoner housing areas because they represent promotion opportunities. Many male guards resent the intrusion. They complain that women are too weak physically to protect themselves or their fellow officers in confrontations with prisoners. Some male prisoners welcome the change, arguing that women humanize the prison setting. Yet other prisoners do not want to be reminded of their sexual deprivation. But the crux of the issue is privacy: should women guards be allowed in housing areas, thus violating prisoners' rights, or should they be kept out, thus violating their rights? California has pioneered the employment of women in prisons. Although the initial concerns have proved groundless, poor screening and training by corrections officials have given women guards a bad reputation. Moreover, in the guise of affirmative action, for training and screening standards have often been lowered. Only one case involving female guards has been reviewed by the Supreme Court; it upholds a Title VII provision allowing employers to use sex as a hiring criterion when it is a bona fide occupational qualification necessary to the normal operations of an enterprise. In other cases Federal courts seem to say that corrections officials must exhaust other avenues of dealing with privacy and security questions before resorting to blanket sex prohibitions. A 1976-77 study of the impact of women guards on male inmates reported little difference in inmate attitudes toward women officers. However, a large majority expressed concern about a woman guard's ability to protect them in certain dangerous situations. The Delaware Corrections Systems has had complex problems with women corrections officers, inmate grievances, and the gubernatorial and legislative roles. In addition, the article presents a case study of women inmates in New York haveing sued for privacy from male corrections officers
Index Term(s): Correctional Officers; Delaware; Females; Inmate grievances; Inmate staff relations; Prisoner's rights
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