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Musings on CO/Inmate Intimate Relations

I read the article on the Baltimore situation and had three thoughts: 1. What the..?Why? Eeew.

2. This could have been the 6th season of The Wire (also: This happened on OZ with the nurse and the CO with the same guy!)

3. If this were a male CO and a female inmate we would all suspect coercion as the reason for the relationship.


So, I decided to go searching for any studies that may have been done on intimacy between CO's and inmates. CO, btw, standing in for Corrections Officer in case you didn't already guess that.

You know what happened? A host of articles popped up showing many cases in the US correctional system where female CO's have been caught in relations with inmates and muling (for lack of a better word) contraband into the prison for their paramour. Google page upon page from NYC to California, to Texas. Including an NPR piece that discussed the prevalence of female CO coercion/assault involving incarcerated youth. However I couldn't find one academic study on voluntary intimate relations.

I tried anther search phrase or two and bumped into a few media articles on assault and coercion between Male CO's and female inmates (curiously no cases of consensual relationships). But, again no academic study to be found.

However what I did find was a summation of study done by Corrections Canada ( http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/pblct/for… ) regarding women in the Corrections field regarding the work conditions and sexism in the work place. Here is an interesting tid bit that got me thinking: "Most important, the burden of dealing with harassment is placed squarely on the shoulders of the victims. They can either tolerate it or face even worse problems if they report it. The women expressed a real fear of being isolated if they were to complain. They would almost certainly be isolation, ostracized, blamed and accused of overreacting. Why? Prisons have a strong subculture, and this creates a great deal of pressure to remain loyal to other officers."


"Coping in the men's world of the jail To cope, most of the women simply accepted what they felt they could not change. They sought male approval and endured the difficulties of the job without protest. It seems most female correctional officers try to maintain harmonious relationships with their male peers and not draw attention to themselves, hoping to be left alone to do their jobs."

I wonder if being in this "men's club/world" creates feelings of inferiority, fear, isolation, and lower self value such that the women do not have strong footing in the hierarchy of the prison system. That impact creates a situation where women do not support one another and so create a sense of animosity (like that chick that has only male friends kind of scenario), where those female CO who most emulate the male culture in the system are the more acceptable and more liked of the female guards. Further more this Corrections culture creates an environment where in female guards are aping their unsavoury male counter parts by engaging in similar inappropriate behaviour to fit in. So that for some (I assume few) female CO engaging in relations with an inmate is either a) quietly sanctioned behaviour gone awry or b) devalued female CO falling prey to the only (inmate) males in their environment who offers respect and camaraderie.


What do you think? I'm I just babbling here? Am I onto something? Do you know of any studies? Got a better theory?

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