Date of Conferral





Criminal Justice


Mary Bold


Offenders return to the community after having been sexually abused by those who have been entrusted with the responsibility to protect them. The phenomenon of staff-on-inmate sexual abuse has become problematic within the criminal justice system. Research on the topic of sexual abuse in penal institutions reveals a lack of information pertaining to staff-on-inmate sexual abuse, and how correctional workers are trained in that area. Female correctional staff have been implicated in more incidences of staff-on-inmate sexual abuse than their male counterparts. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore sexual abuse training received by female correctional staff who were employed in a Mid Atlantic pre-release center, and to examine their perceptions of that training. The study was centered around the Thomas Theorem adopted by William Isaac Thomas. That theory postulates that an individuals' actions are based on how they perceive a situation. Two research questions were addressed relating to sexual abuse training and perceptions of training. Semi-structured interviews were conducted which provided participants with an opportunity to express and describe new ideas relating to the topic. Data were analyzed using the Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis system because of its ability to address subjectivity. This research has revealed that sexual abuse training is developed for correctional staff as a collective and does not differentiate with respect to gender. In addition, it was concluded that correctional staff sexual abuse training lacks intensity and depth in terms of information disseminated. The results of this research will provide criminal justice scholars with information that could prove useful in future studies on the topic of staff -on-inmate sexual abuse.

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