Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Joseph Rigaud


This research explored correction officers’ perceptions and attitudes in relation to inmates with mental health issues. In a qualitative fashion, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five correction officers in Southern California (N = 5) during the Winter 2018 Quarter. Using thematic analysis, this study identified six major themes from the interview data: mental health has remained a prominent issue within the prison population; correction officers were fairly knowledgeable about mental health; correction officers perceived themselves as having to play a limited role in the rehabilitation of inmates with mental health problems; constant prompts in daily activities and medication management were two challenges encountered by correction officers in their interaction with inmates; correction officers’ progressive preparedness to serve mentally challenged inmates; and correction officers reported a need for more support and higher level of care within the prison system. Implications for the criminal justice system were discussed.

Keywords: mental health, correction officers, inmates, preparedness, lack of support