n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Emotions in corrections - myth or reality?

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The efficient functioning of the South African Department of Correctional Services is jeopardised by serious operational problems, which are natural outcomes of the rising South African prison population. All these negative factors contribute largely to corrections being a highly demanding working environment. It negatively affects correction officers physically, mentally and emotionally to almost unmanageable limits.

The question arises: What could be done to ensure that correction officers are more competent in their day-today functioning? The conclusion: They need to enhance their Emotional Intelligence (EQ), which will enable them to bring people together, build them up, and motivate them to do their best. In other words, what the Department of Correctional Services needs is men and women with traits that mark emotional intelligence, are poised and outgoing, committed to people and causes, empathetic and caring, with a rich but appropriate emotional life - they're comfortable with themselves, others, and the society they live in.
It is suggested that correctional staff should be more aware of their emotions and know how to manage them wisely. What they need is a broad spectrum of individual skills, usually referred to as soft skills or inter and intra-personal skills and fall outside the traditional areas of specific knowledge, general intelligence, managerial, technical or professional skills, namely .
It is also accepted that emotional intelligence involves abilities that may be categorised into five domains, namely self-awareness, emotional maturity, self-motivation, empathic understanding and quality communication. To serve the purpose of managing emotions in a correctional environment these domains were discussed in more detail. It is recommend that the mentioned domains of emotional intelligence should be taught in corrections. In other words, emotional intelligence should form an integral part of the training curriculum of correction officers.

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