Posted: March 24th, 2023

Employee Corruption in Correctional Agencies


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Corruption in the correctional facilities occurs in a variety of forms. The most basic version of this activity involves prison officers accepting bribes and sexual favors to allow the smuggling of weapons, drugs, and cell phones to incarcerated persons, or to offer them other benefits. Individuals working in correctional facilities can attest to the notion that engagement in unethical and unlawful act is a common phenomenon in prisons. Although this could be the case, reformatory facilities should not be singled out as the most corrupt institutions as compared to other professions (Columbia Law School., 2016). Corruption in prison is exhibited in all workers, including law librarians, maintenance workers, administrators, officers, and teachers, as well as counselors, which is why this paper uses the term “employee” as opposed to “officer.”

Risk Factors: Low Pay

In fact, there are various underlying risk factors that make reformation employees highly susceptible to engaging in corrupt activities. Low wages that reformation workers receive is one of the potential risk factors. The discordance amid workers’ societal goals and the means under which this person poses to attain the goals can make them develop a situation referred to as an innovative state. The environment under which an individual works in is a major determinant of the innovative state strategies (Columbia Law School, 2016). Therefore, working in a prison environment with low wages is a predisposing factor to correctional employees becoming corrupt. In order to meet the societal demands, they smuggle contrabands to the convicts who can afford to pay. The fact that prisoners are restricted, enjoys little freedoms, and have criminal tendencies only increases the lucrativeness of the “smuggling innovation” activities.


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Human beings are social and relational creatures who form attachments with each other, especially when they have regular propinquity. In fact, this is possible within the prison facilities, which explains why it is a common scenario for correctional employees to form friendships with prisoners. Although the proponents of conciliatory in jails would perceive the formation of friendships amid reformation employees and inmates as positive, it can have negative implications on the correctional facility. Employees may find themselves in a situation that forces them to give special treatments to the deviant inmates they have befriended. The case would be worst in situations where a male prison employee befriends a female inmate as it may lead to sexual interactions, particularly when the employee is assigned to the facility of the female inmate with criminal tendencies.

Low Education and Subculture

In most cases, prison employees such as officers have low educational attainment. Various studies have shown that individuals with low academic achievements are more vulnerable to corruption as compared to those with higher attainments (Carlson, 2015; Columbia Law School, 2016). Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that most prison employees are corrupt. Moreover, the correction facilities indoctrinate their staffs into a subculture of loyalty to those in power, which places most prison workers in situations where they choose to remain silent when their coworkers engage in corrupt activities.


Primarily, reformation institutions should have a code of ethics that emphasize on quality law enforcement for all workers. The establishment of rules and regulations with explicit, detailed sanctions, prohibitions, and processes of investigating correctional employees suspected of engaging in corruption as well as other forms of misconduct should follow these codes (Goldsmith et al., 2016). Indeed, to have a free and fair trial for these employees, a board of the trusted investigative committee should also be set up. Individuals with the intentions of ensuring corruption-free correctional agencies should ascertain that internal policing is carefully balanced.

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