Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Although corrections populations have been gradually declining for several years, an estimated 4.1 million adults are currently supervised in the community (Maruschak & Minton, 2020). While some states have depended on the use of community corrections as a means to reduce overcrowded correctional facilities, other states’ approaches have resulted in probation and parole policies that only contribute to the incarcerated population, primarily through probation and parole revocations. In response to these trends, researchers have begun to focus on supervision outcomes, finding evidence to suggest that individual probation and parole officers may have an impact on offender outcomes. While some of this decision-making literature has included officers’ race and gender, it has frequently done so only peripherally, which is especially problematic as women and people of Color comprise a significant portion of the community corrections labor force.
To fill this gap in the literature, this study uses an intersectional framework and an explanatory sequential mixed method research design to explore the associations between officers’ sociodemographic characteristics, supervision approaches, and professional decision-making. The findings from this study suggest that officer gender, but not race, is associated with officer orientation, and that neither race nor gender are significant predictors of officers’ willingness of pursue a revocation. However, interviews with officers suggest that their supervision approaches and professional experiences are gendered and racialized. Female officers discussed feeling underestimated at work by the male offenders on their caseloads and their male peers in law enforcement. Although officers of Color expressed a desire to enter law enforcement to create positive change, they experienced ostracism from their peers in the Black community and anger from offenders of Color under their supervision. When asked to discuss their own decision-making, officers generally report considering the seriousness of a violation and the offender’s comprehensive supervision history as influential factors in how they respond to noncompliance. Future research should include updated measures of officer orientation and should continue to apply an intersectional framework to officer decision-making, especially considering the current sociopolitical climate surrounding law enforcement and communities of Color. Policy recommendations are also discussed, specifically related to departmental trainings and hiring practices.
Wilson, A. L.(2021). Community Corrections Officer Decision-Making: An Intersectional Analysis. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/6519