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Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


Parole officers-California-Psychology, Public safety, Parole, Prison, Psychodynamic, Systems, Trauma


Intended to enhance public safety by the secure incarceration (prison) or supportive community surveillance (parole) of persons convicted of committing crimes, correctional systems also provide psychological security to society, embodying a collective wish to be protected from risk. Parole agents navigate resultant tensions – between punishment and rehabilitation, between serving practical and symbolic functions – while being affected by the traumatogenic phenomenon that they are positioned to either ameliorate or aggravate. How they do so was the subject of this exploratory, qualitative study. A nonprobabilistic sample of 23 former California parole agents was attained. Interview data suggest that agents are tipped towards public safety regardless of their rehabilitative stances because of organizational liability, are dependent on "buy in" from parolees that they cannot necessarily induce, and are impacted by the traumatogenic phenomena to which they are exposed. Suggestions for further research and implications for social work practice are discussed.




iii, 195 p. Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 156-162)