Examining the Sources of Correctional Officer Legitimacy

Steiner, Benjamin, Wooldredge, John | January 1, 2015

Correctional officer legitimacy has been linked to prison safety and order, and it may also be relevant for inmate well-being and facilitating behavioral change. Yet few studies have examined the sources of correctional officer legitimacy. Findings from analyses of survey data collected from over 5,500 inmates housed throughout forty-six facilities in Ohio and Kentucky revealed that inmates’ perceptions of the treatment they received during their most recent encounters with correctional officers (procedural justice) impacted the strength of their beliefs regarding the legitimacy of those officers. The analyses also revealed that background factors such as inmates’ age and race were relevant for shaping their perceptions of correctional officer legitimacy.