“In this line of work, boundaries are important”: Occupational Stress and the Well-being of Community Parole Officers During the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Mark Norman McMaster University
  • Rosemary Ricciardelli Memorial University
  • Katharina Maier University of Winnipeg




The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed how correctional systems, including parole processes, work and function. As essential workers, parole officers continued to work through the pandemic, despite the upheaval to their typical occupational routines. Through these challenging times, they worked to meet the needs of parolees; yet, the challenges brought on by the pandemic caused considerable stress and created new occupational risks and vulnerabilities. Drawing on interviews with 54 community parole officers in Canada, this paper identifes these challenges and stressors. Specifically, we identify three COVID-19 related occupational stressors salient across interviewees’ narratives: (1) Changes to workload, routines, and work-life boundaries; (2) Effects of decarceration policies; and (3) Navigating support and supervision in the face of added health risks and reduced ability to interact with clients. Drawing on studies of occupational stress in community correctional work, we make several recommendations for correctional services in building a resilient (post) pandemic parole system.