In a study of personnel who work in ten New York State prisons, we examine the extent to which stress and job satisfaction are influenced by both individual and organizational-level characteristics. Some findings of the research fail to support commonly held assumptions, such as the one that guard work is inherently more stressful than that of other prison staff. We also find, contrary to many studies, that marriage is positively related to stress, which suggests that marital ties fail to function as a support system for individuals who work in isolated institutions. Results for religion lend additional support to this conclusion. Nonwhite personnel, we find, fare significantly better than whites. Our results concerning the contextual effects of facilities indicate the overriding importance of social control in prison life: Job satisfaction of staff depends on the discipline and control they exercise over inmates, and the authority that prison officials exercise over them. The irony of these conclusions is what best serves prison staff has different implications for prison inmates.
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