The rate of incarcerating women has been on the rise since 1980s. Majority of the researchers who have looked into the trends of female imprisonment claim that the dramatic increase in women incarceration is not merely grounded in the crimes that females commit, but instead it could be due to the changing system of criminal justice in charging the crimes already committed (Harrendorf, 2018). The adjustment witnessed in the criminal justice system is shown in the correction of petty offenses which include but are not limited to burglary (Van Voorhis et al., 2010). Such minor crimes are mostly committed by women; hence the increase in female imprisonment. Based on the constant increase in female inmates, there is also the need for more female officers to man the women prisons. In the past, correctional facilities were deemed inhumane with little to no consideration of safety and health. Both women and men were mixed in a big room and the strongest left to survive. However, things have changed in present criminal justice system where men and women have separate correctional centers. Whereas there could be issues of sexual harassment still prevalent in some of the female prisons, there is no doubt that separate female incarceration centers significantly enhance the personal security and health of many female inmates (Van Voorhis et al., 2010). In this connection, it would be substantial to claim that female officers have had a significant impact on the correctional facilities. One of the research questions that this research will aim to answer is whether the softening influence exerted by the female guards helps in reducing the tensions and lessening the chances of violent confrontations amid the staffs and the inmates. The other question is whether female officers can work harmoniously with their male counterparts to contribute to the smooth running of the correctional centers.
Relevance and Scope of Research Question
Whereas female officers have demonstrated key contributions in the women prisons, their impact on the male cells also cannot be underestimated. Female guards have shown evidences of developing cordial relationships with both male and female inmate whom they serve (Richie, 2012). Of course, the kind of relation demonstrated by female guards may not be compared with that shown by their male counterparts. Series of research have indicated that the friendly relationship that female officers in prisons have had with their inmates had the potential of reducing tension and lessening chances of violent confrontations between the inmates and the staff (Kang-Brown et al., 2018). Ostensibly, the assertion is in line with the findings in many correctional institutions. Unlike free people, many prisoners have high temperament and can easily get emotional if not handled with due calm. Unfortunately, most of the prison wardens, especially the male guards, do not handle the inmates calmly. Instead, the guards harass the inmates and infringe most of their rights within the prison cells. Most of the tensions that arise within the prisons are because of the abuse cases caused by the officers, something that could be prevented if the relationship between the inmate and the guards remain cordial (Richie, 2012).
Unlike men, women usually show a lot of compassionate when dealing with the prisoners. Showing the inmates that they are cared for does not only enhance peaceful co-existence within the correctional institutions but also lessen the chances of violent confrontations between the staffs and the inmates. From 1980 to 2016, for example, the number of women in American prisons multiplied by almost eight times as compared to how it was before (Harrendorf, 2018). The current trend according to Harrendorf (2018) shows that in the United States alone, the rate of female incarceration has grown by approximately 700% since 1980s. Most of the females who are sentenced to prisons are charged with drug and property offenses.
Female guards have shown the evidence of giving a listening ear to their inmates and this has improved the rate of cooperation among the prisoners. With many female officers being mothers, they have extended the virtue of care to the people they serve at their work stations through compassion. Other than manning the prison cells, the female guards have been instrumental in guiding and counseling the prisoners based on the crimes they committed (Gottschalk, 2016). The guidance and counseling sessions have enormously helped in reducing the rates of recidivism among the ex-criminals who secured release. During the guidance and counseling sessions, the inmates tend to open up with the female wardens since they show them that empathy. Many offenders, therefore, secure their release through such counseling programs and the remaining others feel comforted as inmates.
Other than their inmates, female guards have also demonstrated a good working relation with their male counterparts. The fact that women have defined their roles and boundaries at work has instilled more discipline even on their male colleagues (Kang-Brown et al., 2018). Despite being a male-dominated job, working as staffs in prison has made many women to preach and instill the virtue of fairness and justice among their male colleagues. This has led to enhanced professionalism among many male staffs at the correctional facilities. Even so, it is also important to add to the account that many female staffs working in prisons have been assaulted, insulted, ridiculed and subjected to indecent suggestions by their male counterparts in events when they failed to conspire with the male guards to get involved in inappropriate practices.
Overall, based on the concepts drawn throughout the paper, it is justifiable to conclude that female officers have had a significant impact on the correctional facilities. This is in line with the evidence that the research has shown that the softening influence exerted by the female guards helps in reducing the tensions and lessening the chances of violent confrontations amid the staffs and the inmates. It has also been established that female officers can work harmoniously with their male counterparts to contribute to the smooth running of the correctional centers. The topic has also widely covered the importance of developing a cordial relationship between the staffs and the inmates and how this might enhance cooperation in the correctional facilities. Besides, the evidence of guidance and counseling as a measure of reducing recidivism to the ex-prisoners has been explored throughout the research. In as much as the male officers have been linked with harsh treatments and harassment of the inmates, it is also important to conduct deeper research , more so to the male staffs who work in the female correctional facilities to understand some of the strengths that they might also have serving the female prisoners. With all said and done, the impacts that females have on correctional facilities should not only be limited to how it affects each gender but should also be assessed in terms of how it touches on the community and the magnitude of its effect on different social classes and races.
Gottschalk, M. (2016). Caught: The prison state and the lockdown of American politics. Princeton University Press.
Harrendorf, S. (2018). Prospects, Problems, and Pitfalls in Comparative Analyses of Criminal Justice Data. Crime and Justice, 47(1), 159-207.
Kang-Brown, J., Hinds, O., Heiss, J., & Lu, O. (2018). The New Dynamics of Mass Incarceration.
Richie, B. (2012). Arrested justice: Black women, violence, and America’s prison nation. NYU Press.
Van Voorhis, P., Wright, E. M., Salisbury, E., & Bauman, A. (2010). Women’s risk factors and their contributions to existing risk/needs assessment: The current status of a gender-responsive supplement. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37(3), 261-288.