Body cameras behind bars: Exploring correctional officers’ feelings of safety with body-worn cameras [2020]

Amid rising rates of prison violence, corrective service agencies worldwide are increasingly championing body-worn cameras as a tool with the potential of making the prison environment safer. Little is known, however, whether this technology makes correctional officers feel safer while carrying out their duties in an environment with higher rates of violence than most other occupations. Using survey data and interviews with correctional officers in Queensland, Australia, this study shows that for many correctional officers, body-worn cameras do not improve feelings of safety or have a civilizing effect on prisoner behavior. Most correctional officers do believe, however, that the presence of body-worn cameras reduces the threat of false allegations and thereby improves their “professional” safety. This study also considers whether officers’ perceptions of physical or professional safety vary by officer characteristics, body-worn camera usage, and prison type.

Michelle Sydes, Shannon Dodd, Emma Antrobus
Criminology & Criminal Justice, September 22, 2020