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The Changing Role of a Guard

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1115 words Published: 19th Apr 2021

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In the 1980’s, the criminal justice system was morally about keeping the streets safe and correcting those of who chose to act in deviance. The idea of a prison guard had authority and respect for the inmates they were trying to rehabilitate. However, over the course of time the idea of prison and jail have changing significantly from the size to the majority of who are imprisoned also, the role of a guard and what they are responsible for fulfilling in a day’s work.

The Changing Role of a Guard

 When people hear the idea of a prison guard and what they think they are responsible for in their job, many think they are just solely responsible for technically “babysitting” the inmates, making sure they do not cause trouble and keeping order within the area they are guarding. When in reality in the past times when it came to the idea of prison and the responsibility of a prison guard, they were responsible for doing their part in trying to rehabilitate the inmates according to Crouch (1980). In the reading, one of Crouch’s goals was to “make the guard role stand out in sharp relief but provide a better understanding of the current prison realities”(1980,pg.6), to show that being a prison guard during the 1980’s had a significant impact on the changing of the inmate themselves.

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 I personally believe that the world of the guard has changed since Crouch’s book written in 1989 because, there has been significant change in the way that prisons are ran to the people filling the prisons. Also, the amount of time that was usually put in to help the inmates better themselves, it seems as if that is no longer the case and every person in a prison or jail are considered “wrong or bad” and they are forever attached to that label instead of having the chance of being rehabilitated. In the 1980’s according to Crouch (1980), “a movement had begun to reshape American prisons by improving conditions and by adding on objective beyond punishment, rehabilitation” (pg.7).

In the 1980’s I believe that the prison system was not only about putting “bad” people away but giving them a chance in correcting themselves with the help of staff that cared for/about them. Which also according to Crouch (1980), “guards were told they must do whatever they could to support treatment efforts while maintaining strict security” (Pg.9), which allowed the guard to fulfill their job as a guard fully but maintaining order and letting the inmates aware that they are also there to help them better themselves in the process.

The idea of a guard and a correctional officer do not have many differences because they both have one main goal and usually that is to keep order within the prison and make sure the rules are being followed when it comes to the inmates. According to source (bls.gov), some of the duties of a correctional officer are “enforcing rules and keep order within jails or prisons, supervise activities of inmates, inspect facilities to ensure that they meet security and safety standards” (2020), while the idea of a prison guard according to Crouch (1980), “to mobilize positive feelings about treatment in their interaction with inmates”.(pg.10). After the reading and my independent research, the role of a guard and the role of a correctional officer are not much different due to them both having similar goals in fulfilling their jobs ranging from keeping order within the facility and between inmates to making efforts to rehabilitate them to better themselves.

Prisons and the jail systems in todays time have changed the moral goal of what imprisoning a person is for, many people view imprisonment as punishing the person for the crime/crimes they may have committed. But many do not view it as some of those inmates may have committed a crime, but they do still deserve guidance to try and better themselves and change their view on the world and their actions, so they do not act on recidivism. According to Crouch (1980), “guards may be less able to interact with prisoners as they could when prison population were more stable” (pg.17). Due to the significant change in the way prisons and jails are ran and how they are overpopulated, the idea of guards growing a respectable bond with inmates so that sense of trust and respect is gained they no longer have the same efforts to do so due to, the prisons being overly populated and the process of things being rushed. Yes, the idea of rehabilitation is still brought upon the inmates but not by the guards that are obtaining order. The idea of order and gaining a bond between inmate and guard can have negative motive in present time because, according to Sykes (1956), “inmates use the fact of guard dependence on them to maintain control and perform many prison tasks to gain extra freedoms:” (pg.24). So, due to some guards and the wrongful use of their authority many guards receive that stereotype of being “corrupt” and that idea of respect between the guard and inmate can be hard to establish.

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I believe some of the role/traits of those officers of who are serving in present time institutions should be things like, using their authority correctly not allowing their idea of power to take over their actions and making corruption in an institution. Also, officers should have a full understanding of diversity in an institution and, that they will not always be maintaining order with inmates that may look like them far as race/ethnicity. Another role/trait could be making sure that the inmates obey the rules and closely observing the daily activity of the inmates to make sure that they are not acting in any wrongful activity.

 In conclusion, the role of a guard has changed significantly from the responsibility of the guard which early on was to enforce a bond between guard and inmate so they could establish respect between one another. Also, boosting the idea of a inmate and them receiving rehabilitation, making it aware that they are not being expected to stay there and keep that label of being a “criminal” and, allowing for that second chance in change. Now prison and jail institutions are known to be a holding place for “criminals” and they are basically on their own, and the idea of rehabilitation still applies but, it is not so much of the guard’s position to enforce it on inmates.


Correctional Officers and Bailiffs: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2020, April 10).Retrieved June 30,2020.

Crouch, B.M(1980). The Keepers: prison guards and contemporary corrections. Springfield, IL: Thomas


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