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Articles by Dana Goldstein

What Are Correction Officers So Afraid Of?

Besides the danger, being ignored.

by Dana Goldstein, The Marshall Project

If you're a correction officer (CO), you know what each day is likely to have in store: a treadmill of stress and often nastiness, in an environment outsiders rarely think about and struggle to comprehend. But for all the power COs presumably have in their role as jailers, research shows they are authentically fearful, and at the mercy of policy changes that they cannot control and often do not understand.

A new study by criminologists Jill Gordon of Virginia Commonwealth University and Thomas Baker of the University of Central Florida looked at what causes correctional officers to feel scared. Gordon and Baker surveyed 901 COs working at 40 institutions in an undisclosed mid-Atlantic state. They asked officers if they were fearful of or likely to encounter a variety of circumstances, such as being attacked by an inmate or getting hurt while transferring inmates between cells. The researchers also gathered information on whether the COs felt camaraderie with coworkers and believed that their facilities were understaffed or poorly organized.

The paper, published in Criminal Justice Policy Review, an academic journal, found that non-white officers experienced more fear than white officers ...

No Country for Young Men

No Country for Young Men

Junior Smith was a troubled kid who needed help. Instead, West Virginia sent him to jail.

By Dana Goldstein, October 6, 2014


On Feb. 27, 2013, 17-year-old Junior Smith was summoned to the front office of his Philippi, West Virginia, high school. It was ...