Women Working in Male Correctional Facilities | My Paper Hub
Since the nineteenth century until late
in the tw...
Since the nineteenth century until late
in the twentieth century, women have only been employed in female correctional
facilities and only in the contact position and not in management (Wright & Saylor, 1991). There are various reasons
why female officers were not recruited in male prisons and among them being;
concerns about the safety and security of the female officers in the presence
of the inmates where they were at risk of being raped by the sexually deprived
male inmates. It would require the female employees to be protected by their
male colleagues an action that would put them in danger too. Some of the
prisoners jailed may be violent and would probably overwhelm the female officer
physically and emotionally, and it was preserved that the female officers would
not handle it. The other reason would be the effect on the inmates’ behavior as
a result of exposing them to a female counterpart considering that most of them
have been in the correctional facility for a very long time this would lead to
the female officers having sexual involvement with the inmates (Newbold, 2005).
Lastly, there was a strong opposition as it would be a violation of the privacy
of the prisoners as they would not be allowed to conduct strip searches hence
increasing the workload on their male counterparts (Farkas & L. Rand,
There was, however, a change of
perception in the 1970s where integration of the women officers in male prisons
was considered. The change was as a result of various reasons among them being
a growing realization of women. Women discovered that there were greater
opportunities in men’s correctional facilities as the pay was higher than that
of women correctional facilities. Another chance was that the male correctional
facilities presented an opportunity for women to be promoted to management
positions if one had a wider experience in the correctional institutions and
how the system worked. The primary reason for the change was however due to the
amendment of the law that prohibited employment discrimination on a gender
basis. The Congress made the changes in 1972 which saw an increase in the
number of female working as officers and holding other positions in the male
correctional institutions (Farkas & L. Rand, 1997). Through the amendments,
women were able to file lawsuits against the correctional management which
refused to hire them by gender in all male prisons.
The issue of prisoner privacy remains
contested as prisoners also have their rights to privacy as dictated by the
constitutional privacy rights under 42 U.S.C of 1983. As a result, several
issues regarding the privacy remain unaddressed while their impact on women
employment in male correctional facilities remain unclear. However, it is clear
that the issue of privacy is one of the many that make a woman’s career in
correctional facility difficult. I will try to examine some of the challenges
women face as they work in male prisons, how they cope with difficulties in the
field and some of the interventions that can be used to help them deal with the
The number of women working in
correctional facilities has been on the increase for the past few decades
leading to the twenty-first century. Statistical data presented in 2005 showed
that there were a total 69,299 female employees out of the 419,637 correctional
employees. In 1999 they were approximately 69,199 female officers out of
207,600 working in the correctional facilities. In 1978, Texas male
correctional facilities did not have even a single female officers but by the
end of 1998 over eight thousand women were working in the correctional
facilities in the entire Texas (Flannery, 2011). Women are penetrating in each
and every industry, and they are not only working at junior levels but are also
entering into leadership positions. In 2006, 127,000 women were working in
correctional facilities as bailiffs, jailers, and correctional officers
compared to the 324,000 men working in the same field. 29% of whom were working
as first-line supervisors of civil correctional servants. There was also a 13%
increase in additional supervisory staff which was composed of women (Jurik, 2007). Statistical data shows that there are
more females in the U.S as compared to the number of men at their life
expectancy is longer while their participation in the workforce is on the rise
hence a future with female dominated workforce is expected. Correctional
professions are not left out on this as more and more women are getting
Challenges women face
working in correctional facilities.
As seen earlier, opposition to women
working in correctional facilities was based on the perception that women would
have difficulties dealing with the inmates. On the contrary, the challenges
women face on these career path emanate from their male colleagues (Jurik, 1985). In a research conducted in New Zealand’s
men’s correctional facilities, it was discovered that women were employed in
these institutions amidst opposition from male staff. The female themselves
during the interviews for the jobs predicted that they would face opposition
from the male staff. The predictions came to pass as some male officers had
difficulties in accepting the women and reluctant in welcoming hence remained
resentful. Women face insults and ridicules from their male colleagues all of
which are a form of disrespect. The unconducive environment was particularly at
its peak during the 1980s when the law that allowed women to be employed in any
sector was passed. The pressure resulting from this caused many women to quit
their job as they could not handle the pressure. In 1991 at Invercargill medium
security prison, an incident was reported by the internal inquiry where the
first female officer to work there was placed alone in the yard with male
inmates. The officer had been accused of sexual relation with prisoners,
received obscene phone calls and her handbag was put in a toilet bowl. All of
which was done by her male colleagues. The officers who were responsible for
this however faced disciplinary action and the female officer had to be
transferred to another correctional institution (Newbold, 2005). Actions like
these caused women to be isolated at their workplace as they lacked support
from the people they worked with resulting to them forming friendships with the
The rejection, mistreatment and lack of
respect for the female officers from their colleagues may lead to the female
officers befriending the prisoners, an action which may turn out to be
dangerous. The female officers may fall prey of the manipulative inmates who
might take the opportunity to get favors from the officer. Many of the staff
fall in the hands of the manipulative inmates as they tend to search for
acceptance, approval and reinforcement and the attacks from their colleagues
make them even more vulnerable (Cullen, Link, Wolfe,
& Frank, 1985). Statistics also show that due to the nature of
women, they are more susceptible to manipulation than men. Research conducted
in 2005 revealed that 78.5% of the victims of manipulation by the inmates are
women (Nink, 2008). The fact that this makes the women vulnerable puts the
correctional institutions at a jeopardy as the prisoners can use the
compromised officer to sabotage any operations in the facility or even escape
from the facility.
Due to the perseverance of the few who
did in the beginning, the number of women in the correctional facilities has
increased. The results are seen by the number of women in the industry. In the
past decade, women only took 24.5% of the workforce, but by 2007 the numbers
had risen to 40% women occupying the positions in adult’s correctional
facilities and 42% in juvenile making them the majority in many correctional
institutions (Smith & Loomis, 2013).
Other than rejection from their
workmates, many female officers have reported being sexually harassed by their
colleagues, supervisors, and even the inmates. The sexual harassments in
consideration include graphic sexual rumors about them created by their fellow
staff. The stories are created by male and female colleagues and the inmates
targeted to one person (Farkas & L. Rand, 1997). For example, a large
number of female correctional officers find their sexual orientation being
question especially if they refuse to have sexual relationships with the other
party. The women also report having been falsely accused of having sexual
relation with their supervisors or inmates (Etheridge,
Hale, & Hambrick, 1984). Many of the female workers register
dramatic episodes of harassments, however, referring to them as an undercurrent
of inequality and sexism.
The women in this male-dominated field
with difficulty coping with the harsh environment adopt various mechanism. The
female officers switch to one of three roles in any present in any unconducive
environment like this. The three include the institutional role, the modified
role, and the inventive role. The institutional role is where the female acts
masculine at all times while enforcing laws. The modified role is where the
female officers present themselves as a damsel, accepting sexual favors for the
purpose of getting job benefits and promotions. The role allows the women to be
watched over by their male colleagues. The inventive role, on the other hand,
is where the female officers adopt a neutral level where they do not choose to
be masculine or feminine in the job (Flannery, 2011).
The changes are inevitable especially in the male-dominated fields.
The expectations of Bureau of Labor
Statistics are that there will be a growth job opportunity in the correctional
facilities among them being jailers and correctional officers. However, it
requires interventions to encourage the female workers to join the correctional
team as there is a high labor turnover among women. Here are some of the
interventions that can be made to increase and retain the number of women in
the correctional facilities (Nink, 2008).
·Encourage a conducive environment
through open seminars where both men and women have a chance to air their
·Mentoring both genders through peer
support groups and teams.
·Create awareness through training for
both genders in the correctional system.
·Enforcement of strict code of conduct
among the inmates.
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