Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

First Advisor

Hayden P. Smith


Developing a more complete understanding of the dangers and risks present within correctional environments can enhance prison safety. Research has revealed, however, that existing prison-based risk assessment and management instruments suffer considerable deficiencies, including failing to account for contextual factors that influence inmate misconduct, and basing generalizations off small sample sizes. Several studies have shown that correctional officers are often very accurate when it comes to the risk assessment and management of prison-based dangers. To expand this literature, the current study collected survey data from a statewide sample of maximum security correctional officers. Ultimately the objectives of this dissertation were to: 1)-Access what correctional officers perceive as dangers and risks within their respective work environment; 2)-Examine predictor variables of risk perceptions; 3)-Collect information concerning the decision-making strategies officers employ while at work; and 4)-Explore predictors, inclusive of officer risk perceptions, of these strategies.

Descriptive analyses revealed high mean ratings of officer risk perceptions. A number of demographic, work-based and psychological predictors surfaced as significant in multivariate regression models assessing correctional officers risk perceptions. Regression models examining officer decision-making found that their risk perceptions, as well as demographic features and work-based emotions, significantly influenced these outcomes. Directions for future research and potentially relevant policy implications are discussed in light of these findings.


© 2014, Frank Valentino Ferdik

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Criminology Commons