Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Smidchens

Second Advisor

Dr. Munsterman

Third Advisor

Dr. Barrett


Social trends towards accountability have motivated correctional facilities to improve the professionalism of their staff. This study investigated in-service training of correctional officers as an avenue to improve professionalism in the correctional facility. The study was concerned with only the county jails of the state of Michigan.

Three investigatory areas were developed to research training in Michigan county jails. These areas included a review of the existing literature, a review of Michigan county jail training programs, and a survey of Michigan sheriffs concerning their existing training programs (descriptive theory) and what they perceived should be incorporated into training (normative theory).

The first two areas of investigation included reviewing existing literature, reviewing existing training programs, and interviews with corrections professionals. Normative and descriptive theory was compiled during these procedures.

The third area of investigation included a survey of county sheriffs in Michigan. The names of these individuals were obtained from the Michigan Department of Corrections. The sheriffs were chosen for the population of the study as these individuals are responsible for training programming in the jail facility. The questionnaire utilized in the survey, developed by the writer, had two objectives: to obtain normative and descriptive theory from the respondents and to obtain demographic information concerning the respondents.

The data gathering procedures included the mailing of questionnaires with cover letters to the 83 county sheriffs. After the initial return of questionnaires, a second mailing of questionnaires and cover letters was completed. Follow-up phone calls were made to nonrespondents after the second mailing. A 61% return resulted.

The demographic data obtained from the survey included three independent variables: experience level of the respondent, education level of the respondent, and population size of the county in which the respondent was employed as sheriff. The chi-sqxvjre test for independence of two groups was used to test the data. The three independent variables were tested against normative and descriptive theory perceived by sheriffs as obtained by the questionnaire. The writer anticipated that there would be no relationship found between the independent variables and the normative and descriptive theory.

A summary of the results reveals that generally no support was found for a relationship between the independent variables and the normative and descriptive theory perceived by the sheriffs. This varied somewhat in the area of curriculum where the education level of the sheriff may have been related to the normative and descriptive theory. Trends in the data revealed that the normative theory held by the sheriffs differed little from one variable (and variable subgroup) to the next. In descriptive theory trends there was greater response variation. For the education variable there was greater agreement with the theory for college educated respondents than high school educated respondents. For the remaining two variables there was generally no difference among subgroups.

The summary results of the literature and program review revealed a lack of training programs for correctional facilities on both the state (Michigan) and national level. In Michigan communication and knowledge of training was generally poor, both from county to county and statewide.

The results of this study indicated a lack of training sophistication at the sheriff level in Michigan county jails. For training to exist and contribute to the professionalism of the correctional facility, these crucial individuals must assume an appropriate attitude and knowledge concerning training for correctional officers. This study implies that not only was there generally a lack of knowledge and expertise pertaining to training, but also a lack of actual programming in Michigan county jails.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access