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The Impact of Job Characteristics on Private Prison Staff: Why Management Should Care

Abstract

The number of private prisons run by corporate security businesses has increased rapidly throughout the past two decades. There has been a parallel increase in literature, both pro and con, comparing the efficiency and effectiveness of private and public prisons; however, private prison staff has been largely ignored. OLS regression analysis of a survey of 160 employees at a Midwestern private prison facility showed that the job characteristics of job stress, supervision, and job variety were far more important than personal characteristics of race/ethnicity, gender, age, tenure, education and position in influencing staff job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Specifically, job stress had the largest impact on job satisfaction, while quality of supervision had the greatest impact on organizational commitment.

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Notes

  1. The cover letter, survey, raffle tickets, and a postage paid return envelope were placed in a manila envelope marked with the employee’s name. These envelopes were given to all employees with the distribution of their paycheck during the pay week. To encourage employees to participate, several cash awards ranging from $50 to $150 were randomly chosen from those who turned in completed surveys. In order to select the winners, a raffle ticket with duplicate numbers on each half was provided with each survey. Staff were to return half of the raffle ticket with the survey and to keep the other half. The half raffle tickets were separated from the surveys, so there was no possibility of linking a respondent to a particular survey. About five weeks after the surveys were returned, a drawing was held at an employee function. Staff with a winning raffle ticket were awarded a particular cash prize. All unclaimed cash prizes were donated to the employee organization at the private prison.

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Correspondence to Nancy L. Hogan.

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The authors thank Janet Lambert for editing and proofreading the paper. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

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Hogan, N.L., Lambert, E.G., Jenkins, M. et al. The Impact of Job Characteristics on Private Prison Staff: Why Management Should Care. Am J Crim Just 34, 151 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-009-9060-8

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Keywords

  • Private prison staff
  • Job satisfaction
  • Organizational commitment
  • Job stress
  • Job variety
  • Supervision