Impact of work and family conflict on correctional officer job stress and job satisfaction

Gaylene Armstrong
Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Key Findings

  • Correctional officers who perceived that their work resulted in arguments and increased irritability at home, experienced higher levels of job stress and lower levels of job satisfaction than those officers who did not perceive such conflicts at home.
  • Correctional officers who perceived that behaviors learned at work were detrimental to being a good parent, spouse, or friend were significantly more likely to have higher job stress and lower job satisfaction.
  • Time-based strain, which indicates a high likelihood that officers are overly stressed from working overtime, was not found to be an essential contributor to job stress or job satisfaction.


In the article, “The Relationship Between Work-Family Conflict, Correctional Officer Job Stress, and Job Satisfaction,” Armstrong examined the interplay between work and family conflict as related to correctional officer job stress and job satisfaction. This study looked closely at the challenges associated with achieving a successful balance between work and family demands, particularly in light of the unique demands of officers’ work in direct contact with an incarcerated population in a confined space.  The study surveyed a broad population of officers from 13 different state-operated adult correctional facilities. The authors found that officers who reported higher levels of conflict between work and family demands had lower levels of job satisfaction and higher levels of job stress. Family support, and supervisory support, had positive impacts on levels of job stress. The study recommends that, as a matter of correctional facility security, it is critical for supervisors to take notice of the emotional and cognitive state of their subordinates to ensure a high level of job performance and professionalism.

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