Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Study of Michigan Department of Corrections Staff Well-being

Study of Michigan Department of Corrections Staff Well-being

Spinaris, Caterina, and Nicole Brocato. Descriptive Study of Michigan Department of Corrections Staff Well-being: Contributing Factors, Outcomes, and Actionable Solutions. Colorado: Desert Waters Correctional Outreach and Gallium Social Sciences, 2019.


This study, published by Desert Waters Correctional Outreach, explores the well-being of staff in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). The report documents a new MDOC project targeting staff wellness by measuring the well-being levels of staff, identifying contributing factors negatively affecting staff well-being, and exploring how employee well-being impacts MDOC fiscal consideration (i.e., sick leave, family and medical leave, and worker’s compensation claims). Contributing factors to MDOC staff wellbeing included: the amount of voluntary overtime worked, amount of mandatory overtime worked, occupational traumatic exposure, length of time worked in corrections, job role, and facility security level.

The findings show high rates of mental health issues among employees in Michigan prisons compared to the general public. The study suggests that people working in MDOC facilities are more likely to show symptoms of depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation—and have higher rates of generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, PTSD, and alcohol abuse—than military members or first responders. According to the report, these findings are due to the way the work environment affects a person’s mental health, which has a greater impact than exposure to danger or trauma or the responsibilities of custody work.

The study includes recommendations for MDOC and future studies on this population. MDOC has used the study to address officer well-being through the creation of a wellness unit for staff, implementing new staff programs, and to inform their 2019-2020 strategic plan.


Click here to view the full text of the report.


Keywords: Desert Waters Correctional Outreach, Michigan, staff wellbeing, staff well being, staff wellness, correctional officers, corrections staff, employees, wellness, mental health, PTSD, anxiety