Corrections officers work in confined societies that are, by definition, dangerous. The stress levels are so high that, in one study, 27 percent of officers reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
NIJ has a long history of supporting research related to stress for law enforcement personnel, but in 2016, NIJ’s experts determined that a coordinated research agenda was needed to better respond to this long-standing issue. As a result, NIJ developed the Safety, Health, and Wellness Strategic Research Plan to describe its current and projected efforts to promote the safety, health, and wellness of individuals who work in or are affected by the criminal justice system. What is unique in the plan is that it calls for science-based tools to measure and monitor physical and mental health.
The plan, which will continue through 2021, focuses on three populations within the criminal justice system and includes those who are employed by, under the supervision of, or interact with the system. The plan states that “the focus on stress, trauma, and suicide and self-harm prevention cuts across demographic areas highlighting the importance of promoting research of these topics within the criminal justice system.”