Date of Conferral





Health Services


Tina Jaeckle


Role Conflict and Nonsexual Boundary Violations Among Correctional Officers


Ronald Ruggiero

Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Human Service--Criminal Justice

Walden University

May 2014


Despite the growing presence of prisons in American society, little is known about challenges experienced in the job performed by correctional officers (COs); specifically, no research has investigated how their intermediary status between inmates and prison management can result in role conflict. This descriptive case study explored role conflict among 10 retired CO's and the presence of inmates who enter prison with a high public profile. It also examined and if nonsexual boundary violations are prompted by COs' role conflict. Role conflict theory provided the framework for the study. Open-ended interview questions were generated to address the study's research questions, which concerned the effects of role conflict on COs' perceptions of prison operations, safety, and employee morale. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed, then analyzed for recurring themes using open and axial coding. Three themes emerged from the analysis: high-profile inmates were described as more popular, more intelligent, and more manipulative than regular prisoners. These differences heightened the possibility for affinity between inmates and CO's, which contributed to perceptions of role conflict among the COs assigned to guard high-profile inmates. This study contributes to social change by providing insight into the challenges of COs' job roles that may influence the training and development for prison staff and management of high profile inmates.