Alienation and Power: Prison Workers in Prison
McGuinn, Stephen Crandall
Wellford, Charles F
The US incarcerates close to one percent of the adult population. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) detains over 200,000 men and women. In order to manage this substantial prisoner population, the Bureau of Prisons employs close to 40,000 individuals. Using multilevel modeling and drawing on data from the yearly Prison Social Climate Survey administered by the BOP, this study poses three questions: (1) How do prison workers perceive institutional power derivation? (2) Do power adoptions impact prison worker perception of effectiveness in inmate management? (3) Does alienation harden prison workers and reduce their ability to effectively manage inmate populations? Results indicate that prisons largely promote formal and constructive power adoptions and these power adoptions improve prisoner management. In addition, alienation harms effective prisoner management and hardens prison workers. Discussion includes implications for theory, policy, and practice.