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Review 3 of "Interpersonal interaction between prisoners and officers in prisons: A qualitative meta-synthesis exploring prison officer wellbeing"


Published onNov 02, 2020
Review 3 of "Interpersonal interaction between prisoners and officers in prisons: A qualitative meta-synthesis exploring prison officer wellbeing"

Vote: Publish pending minor changes

[Please explain your vote. If you voted to publish pending minor changes, specify each change, why it is needed, and, possibly, how it should/could be done.]

 Only minor changes needed/suggested, as listed below:

o   Consider reviewing comma usage in the abstract. There seems to be some unnecessary commas included throughout. It doesn’t appear as often in the paper otherwise.

o   The abstract could use a citation when mentioning prior research. The second sentence. I believe Bulter et al. (2019) should be cited at the end of that sentence judging by the content provided deeper in the manuscript.

o   There is some wordiness that could be removed. I would suggest the following change in the abstract: “As such we conducted a qualitative meta-synthesis to explore how person level variables, particularly interpersonal interactions between prisoners and prison officers…”

o   At the end of the abstract the authors state “individual favours.” To be consistent with what appears later in the paper I would recommend changing this to “informal favours.”

o   The beginning section of the paper doesn’t distinguish the literature review from an introduction. The end of the third paragraph seems like a natural break where the literature review would begin.

o   The end of the second paragraph on page 3 (also recommend adding page numbers to the manuscript for review) needs a string citation to back up the contention that “…there is consistent evidence for…” (or the statement removed).

o   On p. 4, the authors discuss a variety of duties carried out by correctional officers. However, some of these tasks are carried out by other support staff as well. As written, it implies institutions are only made up of COs which I don’t believe is the authors’ intent. Perhaps changing “The prison officer is responsible…” to “…may be responsible…” would be more appropriate?

o   On p. 4, the last paragraph mentions encountering the emotional suffering of prisoners, would it be appropriate to mention the concept of vicarious trauma (a.k.a., secondary trauma) here?

o   The last paragraph at the end of the Introduction/Literature Review could be more precise. As written, it implies the authors were going to conduct primary research but the following paragraph under Methods clearly indicates that is not the case. I believe the sentence “As such the current study aims to explore interactions between prison officers and prisoners” should continue on “…as reported in the existing literature.” I would also change “Examining” to “Reviewing.”

o   The last sentence of the Methods section has a grammatical error, needs revision. Otherwise, the Methods, Results, and Discussion sections were well written and easy to follow. I was particularly fascinated by the discussion of informal favors and the role it plays in negotiating and maintaining positive officer-prisoner relations.

o   The included tables and figures were well done, it is quite easy to follow the systematic review that was conducted.

o   Under the Discussion section, can a citation be added in relation to emotional intelligence and the “tests” being referenced?

[Please put additional info below, as/if you see fit:] 

Thank you for the opportunity to review the manuscript. The qualitative meta-synthesis provided is informative. In particular, the discussion of how corrections officers navigate relations with prisoners in terms of small informal favors is quite interesting. Further, the unique personality types of the corrections officers can influence how they engage with prisoners and subsequently how they cope with the prison environment/job more generally. The argument that many existing studies on occupational stress in corrections have failed to identify important variables because they lack context (which only a qualitative approach could likely find) seems like a fair argument, though I personally didn’t find those sections of the paper quite as interesting. Nonetheless, the study does pull together the results of a small number of qualitative studies potentially giving them a collective boost in exposure and consideration in this larger empirical discourse.

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