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Prison Officers in Belgium:

A mixed method study on Prison Officers’ Views on Their Job



Description: we aim at gaining a thorough insight in prison officers’ (POs) views on their job. POs’ perceptions of their job are shaped by their occupational culture. Yet, research (Nylander, 2011; Tournel, 2015) has shown variations on the occupational culture in different prisons, regimes, sections and even shifts. A mixed- method research design and extensive fieldwork in different prison settings will allow to map variations in POs’ views on their job. First participant observations and semi-structured interviews with POs will be conducted, to explore and describe in depth how they look at and experience their job, to analyze their view on “a good prison officer” and how this relates to their actual position in the prisons of today, as well as to the Prison Act (2005) and the law (2019) on the Organization of the Penitentiary Services and the Statute of the Penitentiary Staff. Furthermore we want to analyze how POs experience role conflicts in their job, the dirty aspects of their job and how they perform emotional labor. Finally a quantitative survey will allow us to compare POs’ views on their job in all Flemish prisons.

Outputs: Doctoral thesis, academic articles, conference presentations, communications for a broader public

Relevant publications:


Coordinator: Prof Kristel Beyens and An-Sofie Vanhouche

Researcher: Esther Jehaes

Funding: VUB

Duration: 2018 - 2024