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Jail Officer Stress: There Is a Choice

NCJ Number
American Jails Volume: 13 Issue: 4 Dated: September/October 1999 Pages: 71-78
J. M. Moynahan
Date Published
October 1999
8 pages
Following a general discussion of what contributes to stress and the effects of stress, this article notes that the job of jail officers is stressful and that learning how to manage stress before it becomes critical is important.
Jail officers experience stress from a variety of sources. Some of these sources are endemic to the job, while others come from an outside source and are common to most people. Some of the stressors found specifically in the jail setting include inmate defiance of rules and regulations, inmate threats against jail staff in general and against specific jail officers, inmate "games" with staff and other inmates, difficulty in maintaining inmate discipline, compliance with inmate rights, overcrowded jails, poor or no communication between jail officers and jail administrators, lack of clear guidance from jail administrators, inadequate pay and benefits, lack of access to information required to successfully perform their duties, and unrealistic goals set by jail administrators. Recognizing that individuals respond to stress in different ways, specific suggestions are offered on how to reduce stress that focus on having time alone, journal writing, talking and venting, exercise, an appropriate diet, subliminal tapes, and meditation. Relaxation techniques taught in a stress reduction class at Eastern Washington University are listed. 14 references