Date of Conferral
James S. Herndon
Correctional officers work in a stressful environment and are regularly exposed to dangerous and emotionally charged situations. Researchers have detailed the potential negative outcomes of this occupation, yet little research has examined the extent to which correctional officers experience emotion while on their shifts, and how those emotions may translate into stress, divorce, substance abuse issues, domestic violence, and high mortality rates upon retirement. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to learn how correctional officers experience their felt and expressed emotions while at work. Data collection was done using a 15-item open ended questionnaire designed by the researcher and accessed via an online website. The 15-item questionnaire was prescreened by correctional officers not participating in the survey to assure for trustworthiness. Anonymous online survey data was collected from 23 correctional custody staff members working throughout California. The responses from the survey were coded and analyzed using NVivo and Survey Monkey software to account for reoccurring themes in the data. The findings of this study show a high percentage of respondent's report feelings of anxiety throughout a shift at work. Further, the findings show that the participants consistently report a disconnect between felt and expressed emotions while at work. These findings may be used to reform training programs for correctional officers to offer them better ways to process the emotions they experience throughout their career.