Using this information, discuss how the lack of resources and operational decisions create a dangerous environment that contributes to correctional officer misconduct and corruption. Identify how correctional organizations can reduce unethical conduct by correctional personnel.  

McCarthy (1991, 1995) and Souryal (2009) discuss the major
types of corruption by correctional officers and other officials in
institutional corrections. Under misuse of authority, McCarthy
(1991) details the following:

• Accepting gratuities for special consideration during
legitimate activities

• Accepting gratuities for protection of illicit activities
• Mistreatment/harassment or extortion of inmates
• Mismanagement (e.g., prison industries)
• Miscellaneous abuses

Souryal (2009: 28–29) describes acts
of misfeasance (illegitimate acts done for personal gain), acts
of malfeasance (acts that violate authority), and acts
of nonfeasance (acts of omission such as ignoring rule

Bomse (2001) identifies different types of prisoner abuse as

• Malicious or purposeful abuse. This is the type of abuse
inflicted by individual officers intentionally, including
excessive use of force, rape and sexual harassment, theft
and destruction of personal property, false disciplinary
charges, intentional denial of medical care, failure to
protect, racial abuse and harassment, and excessive and
humiliating strip searches.

• Negligent abuse. This type of abuse is also inflicted by
individual officers, but not intentionally, and includes
negligent denial of medical care, failure to protect, lack of
responsiveness, and negligent loss of property or mail.

• Systemic or budgetary abuse. This type of abuse is
systemwide and refers to policies, including
overcrowding, inadequate medical care (systematic
budget cutting), failure to protect, elimination of visits or
other programs, co-payments and surcharges, and use of
isolation units.

Although there is no research that supports this premise, a
reading of a wide range of news reports, both current and
historical, of corruption in corrections indicates that corruption
tends to occur in patterns. That is, if there is sexual misconduct,

there is also smuggling. If there is physical abuse of inmates,
there are also other forms of mistreatment. It also appears that
corruption tends to permeate levels of supervisors who protect
the corrupt activities. Cover-ups at the highest levels also occur,
arguably not because the highest level administrators are
involved directly, but more so because of long-term friendships
between those involved and those who can protect them and/or
a desire to keep the illegal activities from being exposed to the
public. Patterns of corruption also seem to occur when there is a
deficit of resources, including understaffing, deferred
maintenance leading to decrepit facilities, and a seeming lack of
care and attention from the top management. In a way, one
might describe it as the “broken windows” theory of corrections
in that when policies and procedures are ignored, when
buildings fall into disrepair, when relationships between
inmates and correctional officers drift into unprofessional
familiarity or animosity, then corruption/crime seems to be
present as well.

Sexual abuse of inmates, brutality, bribery at the highest levels,
and drug smuggling all are reported with depressing regularity.
Some scandals live in infamy, such as the gladiator fights that
were orchestrated by correctional officers in Corcoran prison in
California where correctional officers coerced inmates to fight
in the prison yard and then used shotguns from the towers to
stop them. Despite the litigation and criminal prosecutions that
followed from the California scandal, correctional officer–
coerced “gladiator fights” have been alleged more recently in
the Denver jail, in juvenile detention facilities in Texas, and
other locations. Other scandals, such as smuggling rings where
correctional officers bring in cellphones, drugs, and other
contraband for inmates, are so similar when they appear in
various states, that it seems only the names of the individuals
and prison gangs involved are different. Officers are often
tempted by the large sums of money or coerced by inmates who
tell the officers they know where they live or where their kids
go to school.

In the News

Correctional Crimes

In 2016, an FBI undercover investigation called Operation Ghost Guard, resulted
in the arrests of 130 current and former Georgia prison guards, civilian staff, and
inmates. The correctional officers thought they were being paid thousands of
dollars to protect drug smuggling operations for a high-level trafficker, using
their status as correctional officers to protect them from a vehicle search if they
were stopped by police. The investigation also uncovered contraband smuggling
and criminal activity in the prisons. Officials began the investigation after
discovering a telephone scam—people received phone calls saying they had
missed jury duty and they could either pay a fine or be arrested—traced to
Georgia prison inmates using cellphones. When agents investigated how the
phones got into the prison, they identified guards in nine different prisons. When
these corrupt guards were given an opportunity to protect a purported drug
trafficker, they agreed to wear their uniforms to transport the drugs. Ironically,
some of the correctional officers arrested were on the Department of
Corrections’ COBRA tactical team which investigates drug trafficking inside the

Source: Brumback, 2016.

In the sections that follow, we focus on a few states (California,
Florida, and New York). This is not to portray these states as
worse than others, or indicate that there is no corruption in
states that aren’t represented here. Indeed, it is noteworthy
how similar scandals are across the country: drug and cellphone
smuggling rings, “beat-up” squads, and sexual exploitation seem
to occur with remarkable similarity across many states.

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