Motivations That Correctional Officers Have for Corrupt Deals

Corruption by prison officers stems from a range of reasons and one of them is the economic incentive. Correctional officers often get a lot of compensation for breaking rules. For instance, prisoners may collaborate with their families who pay for an inmate’s phone bills and then bribe correctional officers with 500 dollars for letting their phones into the facilities. This economic incentive is what causes some of them to be so unethical. Another motivation for engaging in corruption is the numerous opportunities prevalent in correctional facilities. Prison officers are often too many to be monitored by their superiors. Furthermore, a large number of them may be granted a lot of powers to make decisions concerning prisoners. This discretion makes it relatively easy to engage in corrupt actions without necessarily being caught or being prevented from doing the same in the future (Benson, 1998).

Additionally, correctional officers often receive less than desirable compensation for their work. Most of them will experience salary increments only after a very long time in office. Therefore, they are likely to be tempted to get into corrupt deals just so that they can meet their personal needs. Besides, some may weigh the option of choosing not to engage in certain deals over not engaging in it and the former may be more rewarding. The only thing they stand to gain is being recognized as ethical and reliable officers. In other words, this is tied to prestige levels rather than any monetary gain. Consequently, most correctional officers will find themselves in these difficult situations. It is also important to note that sometimes when prison officers fail to relate to their mission and vision then they can easily be tempted to act selfishly. If there is a sense of brotherhood and togetherness among prison officers then chances are that they may be more obligated to their correctional facility as an institution rather than to themselves as individuals. If these officers think that they are all part of something noble then they are likely to go on with their respective duties even if this implies having to forget other instances of the same (Benson, 1998).

Some forms of corruption are worse than others because not only do they let significant levels of crime going on in prison facilities, they may cause severe repercussions like death. For instance, when a correctional officer lets an inmate smuggle in a gun or any other weapon that may cause harm in exchange for some monetary benefits then this puts the life of someone else in danger. Such forms of corruption are much worse than those that involve ‘petty’ issues.

Corruption is not an inevitable part of such an environment because certain parts of the world record relatively low levels of corruption within their prison. This signifies that they must be doing something right. First, their correctional officers have an engrained moral code that prevents them from using such shortcuts to get anything. They identify with their institutions more than anything else and will not break that tie; the same can be done in the US. Furthermore, their needs are well taken care of thus eliminating the need to look for external means of ensuring that their problems are solved effectively. Also, when correctional officers are well aware of external deterrents to corrupt acts then they may be prevented from engaging in those deals. Several correctional officers presently may commit crimes merely because there are loopholes that allow them to go free. In this respect, severe punishments for corruption should be enforced and continuous monitoring should be encouraged to make prison officers more inclined towards the law.


Benson, B. An institutional explanation for corruption of criminal justice officials. Cato Journal 8(1): 1-25