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The topics in unit 3 included various classifications of employees who work in correctional facilities, and how cross-training security staff and non-security staff can enhance the well-being of inmates and employees. Also included are philosophes of inmate management, inmate self-help programs, and how inmate classification systems should be administered. Finally, the issues of gender-based classifications and meeting the different needs of female offenders are examined. For this unit’s Complete assignment, write a comprehensive scholarly essay (minimum 1600 words) in which you analyze, explain, and apply these concepts in the context of a law enforcement organization. You must incorporate and cite, using correct APA citation format, at least four different scholarly research sources. Be sure your essay demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the READ section from this unit. In-line citations must be used in the body of your essay, and all research sources must be fully cited at the conclusion of your essay. Correct APA citation formats must be used.

Your essay should review recent innovations in cross training for correctional facility staff. What are the two main classifications of employees at correctional institutions and how do their roles differ? What elements should be included in a model cross-training program? How should training be implemented so that the security of employees and well-being of inmates are enhanced? Your essay should address how a warden should merge good security practices with inmate self-help programs. What correctional philosophy would you implement in a large correctional facility? What are the positive and negative implications of delegating classification decisions to non-security staff? Finally, you should explain why treating female offenders differently is or is not an acceptable approach to institution management.

Prison Architecture
To design a prison or jail facility, architects must consider many factors, including:
Characteristics and numbers of inmates
Management and punishment philosophy
Availability of funding
Site and utility characteristics
Staffing requirements
Type of housing unit
Correctional institutions are communities unto themselves and require many different services, including:
• Food service
• Medical support
• Maintenance
• Work and industrial areas
• Education and recreation facilities
• Isolation cells for rule violators
A correctional institution needs at least one basic housing configuration to accommodate various correctional
programs, however, institutions are often a collection of different types of housing units. The design of the elements
that support the institution, collectively referred to as the institution’s core by some systems, tends to evolve from the
architectural design of the inmate housing unit or units.
Housing Configurations
The evolution of prison housing concepts corresponds closely to the development of correctional management
practices over the centuries. Prison architecture is influenced significantly by the operating agencies’ policies and
management styles. Societal attitudes toward incarcerated people and emerging construction systems affect decisions
about the architectural details of a housing unit as well.
There have been few changes in housing unit design over the centuries, but most have been dramatic departures
from their predecessors. The changes have tended to follow the philosophy and attitudes of the citizens of the country
and the wishes of the elected representatives who authorize the design and construction. Sometimes architectural
design changes follow a swing toward more punitive attitudes. At other times, they respond to a belief that the behavior
of sentenced criminals can be improved through their living environment, and these facilities are designed as places
of rehabilitation.
The desire to separate criminals from society and punish them has been the most consistent influence on
correctional architecture through the years. Architecture is a language of symbols. Some prison architecture conveys
a message of decent, safe, and sanitary conditions, whereas some expresses extreme punishment. In recent years,
correctional architecture has come to reflect classification systems that assess inmates’ behavior and try to predict
their needs while they are in custody.
Historical Models
The history of prison architecture progresses through a series of specific facilities and models.
The Bastille
This famous French fortress was built around 1370 as part of the fortifications for the wall around Paris. Its physical
characteristics are linked clearly to the harsh approach to punishment practiced there. It was four floors high, with all
levels contained in a continuous, stone masonry wall. Its massive form derived from eight cylindrical towers linked
together with a series of straight wall sections. The walls had several windows on each level arranged directly over
the ones beneath. Much like a medieval castle, it had two interior courtyards, and like many castles, it had a projected,
crenellated parapet (a series of stone shields running along the top of the wall) to protect defenders stationed on the
roof against arrows and other flying projectiles. Also like a castle, it was accessible only by a drawbridge. In all
likelihood, it had limited means for personal hygiene, and its walls allowed the weather elements to enter and circulate
cold air and airborne contaminants. The Bastille’s architectural features symbolize its primary, and probably only,
design goal of containing masses of people and resisting attackers bent on forcing the prisoners’ release.
The Second Western Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, an example of Bastille-like design on the other side of the
Atlantic, was built near Pittsburgh in the 1830s. Its architectural proportions with four levels high with thick walls and
a crenellated parapet are different from its model in Paris, but its origins are undeniable. Secure, punitive, and gloomy,
it operated throughout most of the 19th century to warehouse people in a hopeless, degenerative environment.
Convict Hulks
Numerous wooden ships docked in harbors, such as Portsmouth, were used widely in England in the last half of the
18th century to confine convicted persons. These crowded, dirty surplus boats served to separate England’s convicted
from society regardless of their crime. They were infested with rodents and insects, and their basic wood construction
facilitated incubation, absorption, and spread of disease. These hulks were probably unsupervised, and their
construction made them a perpetual fire hazard. The convict hulk has had a long-term influence on prison design over
much of the globe. Eventually, after a few ghastly episodes stemming from the nature of the hulks’ construction,
prison reform advocates prevailed with a more humane design approach.
This housing unit concept was created by English philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham around 1790.
Despite Bentham’s English origins, no facilities with this housing design were ever built in England. The Panopticon
unit consists of two-person cells arranged side-by-side in a circular plan that generates a building in the form of a
drum. Because of its shape, it is also called a roundhouse. Four tiers high with a supervision pod in the center, it was
intended to be an efficient means for housing a large number of people under constant supervision (see Figure 3-1).
The cells in the Panopticon face each other across a wide circular space and overlook an enclosed officer’s
observation station at the center. With the cells arranged along the thick masonry perimeter walls with narrow
windows, if any, this configuration resembles the Pennsylvania model. Moving around on the ground level is simple
and direct. On any of the upper tiers, however, officers must follow the curving balcony along the cell fronts for some
distance to reach a stair. If officers in the observation station need move quickly from the station to a problem they
have seen from within the station, they have a substantial distance to travel. The Panopticon concept includes another
unattractive feature that undermines its use. Built with concrete or masonry, furnished with steel bunks, and secured
with steel cell fronts, the Panopticon has extremely high normal, or ambient, noise levels because of reverberation and
echoes within its hard walls. The circular shape is a natural sound amplifier. Given the normal activity in a prison
housing unit (e.g., talking, showering, closing doors, doing janitorial work), the ambient noise level in a Panopticon
at midday, for example, is so reinforced by its shape that normal conversation reaches shouting levels. The deleterious
effect of exposure to this acoustic on the occupants of this space—both staff and inmates—must be significant.
Pennsylvania and Auburn Models
The Pennsylvania system (see Chapter 1) focused on imprisonment with hard labor, so prison design emerged as an
important issue. To replace the open bay or congregate style of housing dozens of people that had prevailed in previous
centuries, the Walnut Street Jail was erected in 1790 with small cells to house individual prisoners. In 1829, the Eastern
Penitentiary at Cherry Hill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was developed based on cellular housing (see Figure 3-2).
At the opposite ends of the 18th century, cellular imprisonment had been used in the papal prison of St. Michael
in Rome and at Ghent in Belgium. These European models featured cells arranged along the exterior walls of the
building, an arrangement now known as an outside-cell plan. Eastern Penitentiary’s design borrowed this concept and
took it a step further by organizing the cell buildings in a spoke pattern (see Figure 3-3). In this plan, buildings
enclosing a number of cells were arranged side by side in a linear pattern and in one or more levels radiating from a
central hub space or rotunda. The application of this architectural configuration facilitated systematic identification
and management of the institution’s population in groups of predetermined size. This configuration has been used
quite extensively in England, France, and other European countries.
Architecturally, the outside-cell configuration is based on flanking cells arranged in a linear plan and facing a
common central corridor and another row of cells on the other side. Depending on the number of inmates and floor
area constraints, cells are stacked in one or more tiers accessible by stairs at either end of the range.
Cell-front design can be open with bars and a barred door, or they can be solid with a panel door. Because each
prisoner can touch an exterior building wall in this configuration, the construction details of the wall and any windows
it may include become essential to the institution’s perimeter security. With the development of modern plumbing
systems, outside-cell configurations now include toilet, lavatory fixtures, and showers. Typically, these fixtures are
arranged along the fronts of the cells to permit a full view into the cell and to facilitate maintenance of the mechanical
system from the walkway outside the cell.
The Pennsylvania concept led to the radiating wing organization for large housing units. In this organization,
linear cellblocks are arranged like spokes in a wheel around a central hub.
The Auburn system used a slightly different model, featuring two back-to-back rows of multitiered cells arranged
in a straight, linear plan. A typical cell of an individual prisoner could measure 3.5 by 7 by 7 feet. (By contrast, today’s
standards call for a room 7 or 8 feet wide, 10 feet long, and 8 feet high.) This housing concept dominated U.S. prison
and jail design in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Like the Pennsylvania model, side-by-side cells extend far enough
to accommodate the desired number of beds. The number of cells in a row can range from five or six to several dozen.
Two of these blocks of cells can be joined at a central space that permits access to both.
Over the decades, electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems were introduced into the housing unit design.
These systems were usually accommodated in the architectural design by separating the back-to-back rows of cells a
few feet to form a continuous space called a chase. The chase can be entered from either end of the cellblock for
maintenance of the systems and acts as a spine to serve the toilet and light fixtures at the back of each cell. The piping
system in the chase tends to limit the overall length of the cellblock because of the relationship between a pipe’s
diameter and the volume of water it can handle. Other than this, there are no architectural or construction constraints
to the length of a cellblock.
This concept allows the rows of cells to be stacked in tiers accessible by stairs, and these tiers can range as high
as six levels. Multitiered applications of rows of cells have become commonly known as cellblocks. In the Auburn
model, or inside-cell plan configuration, cells are organized in the middle of the overall space with their fronts facing
the building’s exterior walls. Unlike in the Pennsylvania model, the cells and their occupants do not face each other.
The distance between the cell front and the outside wall at the ground floor level usually equals or exceeds the depth
of the cells to allow for a continuous balcony along the front of the cells on the levels above the ground floor. Because
the occupants of the cells cannot reach the walls as long as the cell front is closed, the exterior walls can have windows
for light and ventilation without compromising the building’s security.
Auburn-style cellblocks were designed to provide a certain number of cells in one housing unit. However, in
many of the larger institutions with long cellblocks, a crossover corridor has been incorporated at midpoint to allow
movement to the cells on the other side of the unit without having to walk or run all the way to one end of the building.
Group showers are often located in this same crossover corridor. The building is accessible from one end, where it
joins a corridor that, in turn, leads to more cellblocks or other components of the institution. Somewhere close to the
other end, the building may have another door to the outside to permit entrance into the building by staff in the event
of a disturbance. Beginning in the late 1970s, modern fire and life safety concerns have influenced correctional
architecture significantly, and these second doors are more common and are considered emergency exits to allow
evacuation. Some old cellblocks have been divided with fire-rated cross walls and doors so that one end can act as an
area of refuge for the other in an emergency.
Dozens of Auburn-style housing units have been built throughout the United States. This housing concept
dominated much of prison and jail design in the 19th century. Its features have become so familiar that when most
people think of correctional facilities, they think of the inside-cell architectural model. There are still several
functioning examples of the Auburn housing unit, probably because overcrowded conditions keep the demand for
housing so high that replacement is not economically feasible. But it is interesting to note that many of them have
been substantially remodeled and internally subdivided to upgrade their life safety characteristics and convert them
into more manageable modules.
When supervising in both the Auburn and Pennsylvania model housing units, officers patrol on the ground floor
or the continuous balcony in front of the rows of cells. Officers need to look directly into each cell during their patrols.
The application of gang-locking hardware systems in the early 20th century permitted officers to selectively open one
or several doors in a range of cells at once to let certain inmates out for meals, work, or recreation. The linear housing
unit configuration and the supervision practices it fostered has led in some instances to inadequate attention from staff
and contributed to significant neglect and harsh treatment.
Later, institutions made up of combinations of the Pennsylvania and Auburn models arranged in a radial plan
developed to take advantage of the merits of both (see Figure 3-3). Another site plan arrangement known as the
telephone pole plan does much the same thing (see Figure 3-4) by attaching housing units of different configurations
to opposite sides of a central corridor or spine.
Together, the Pennsylvania and Auburn configurations are now known as the linear indirect configuration because
both of them feature long, narrow organization and can only be effectively supervised by walking back and forth along
its length. This supervision style means that staff can temporarily lose awareness of some parts of the unit. This
architectural style was used extensively in American prisons and jails over the 20th century. However, other housing
styles emerged over the century, giving the institution a wider variety of housing conditions within the same security
Direct Supervision
One of the most interesting developments in modern correctional facility design occurred when the Federal
Bureau of Prisons (BOP) opened the federal correctional institutions at Pleasanton, California, and Miami, Florida.
Prompted in part by the need to abate the conditions that contributed to a long and deadly disturbance that occurred in
the New York State Prison at Attica in 1971, BOP initiated the design of a new style of housing unit that is nearly a
e, open central indoor recreational or day room space (see Figure 3-5). Individual cells are organized around this
square space. Showers and quiet recreation areas are interspersed among the cells. A correctional officer in this model
can roam around the unit and see most of the interior space from just about any vantage point. The cells in the housing
unit are stacked two high, one level above and below the common area. Because the officer on the common floor is
within a half-flight of either level of rooms, response to any cell is quicker.
By design, the capacity of the unit was limited to 125 cells, an appropriate number for 1 or 2 officers to supervise.
The unit, in turn, can be divided into halves or quarters by means of sliding doors or temporary partitions. Like its
predecessor, the Pennsylvania model, the building envelope (i.e., the exterior walls and the roof) has been detailed to
provide the building perimeter security. The secure envelope means that the interior partitions, doors, hardware, stairs,
and other features could be built of lighter materials. This concept, which has become known as the direct supervision
model (or new generation model), encourages a humane atmosphere by facilitating inmate-staff communication and
The exterior shape of this housing unit includes a sloping roof covered with conventional shingles so that persons
can be seen on the roof. Inmate cell windows are quite large, and the walls are trimmed with large wood beams.
Because more systems for commercial construction can be used in this concept, it is more economical to build.
Supermaximum Security
Prison systems have found it necessary to develop high-security institutions to handle groups of inmates who are
especially violent. BOP operated the U.S. Penitentiary (USP) on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay for 30 years
for very dangerous inmates. Architecturally, Alcatraz was a combination of the Auburn system (with stacked inside
cells) and the Pennsylvania system (with rows of cells that face each other across an open corridor or range) (see Figure
3-2). It had manually operated gang-locking doors and the central plumbing chase characteristic of the Auburn model.
The buildings and support structures around the island were constructed of reinforced concrete. Its capacity ranged
from 200 to 250 inmates, each in single cells. The rows of cells were stacked too high, and the main roof over the
housing unit was high enough to permit skylights that were well out of the reach of inmates. It also featured a central
dining room. Outdoor recreation took place on the south side of the island in a large, open yard enclosed by a tall,
concrete wall. The institution included industries and some staff housing.
In 1963, USP Alcatraz was closed, and its super maximum security role in the federal prison system was
transferred to the new USP Marion in southern Illinois. Marion was built with a control unit of 70 cells for inmates
within the federal system with records of dangerous and aggressive behavior, long sentence duration, or other
administrative conditions that required that they be housed under constant segregation conditions. The unit’s design
is based on inside cells with a dedicated shower at one end. This shower and a small recreation yard adjacent to the
unit are available to only one inmate at a time. Meals are delivered on trays to each cell, and all movements within the
unit are under multiple escorts.
High-security institutions were taken to a new level in California in the late 1980s and in Colorado in the 1990s.
The California Department of Corrections’ Pelican Bay Prison near the Oregon border includes two security housing
units (SHUs) totaling 1,056 beds. The SHU is a new model of the administrative–maximum security facility to house
management cases, habitual criminals, prison gang members, and the like. In these units, the inmate lives alone in a
single cell. Each unit has its own grille-covered recreation yard. The inmate is permitted to use this yard for a short
period each day. Doors to each cell are sliding, perforated steel plates with overhead and motor-operated sliding
devices operated from a control center. With the exception of escorted, scheduled movements for recreation or other
appointments, the inmate never leaves the cell.
The administrative–maximum security institution at the USP in Florence, Colorado, is the current federal edition
of a supermaximum facility. As in Marion, the capacity of the Florence basic module is small to facilitate supervision.
Each housing unit has 64 cells, each cell is accessible through its own sally port, and each cell includes its own shower
as well as toilet and lavatory. Cells are arranged in the outside-cell configuration on two levels split at the unit entrance,
but a wall down the middle of the unit screens the view of the cells across the corridor. Inmates can use a large outdoor
recreation area between the units on established schedules.
Other Design Factors
The housing unit of a prison or jail is the most important element of correctional design. Depending on the
capacity of the institution, the collection of housing units typically accounts for at least half of the land covered by a
correctional facility. The architecture of the inmate housing area largely steers the design of the rest of the institution.
The other elements consist of the spaces needed to support the housing units. These elements include space to prepare
and serve food, run programs, provide medical services, hold visits, put out fires, ensure the institution’s security, and
provide for its administration, sanitation, and maintenance. In many modern institutions, large industrial buildings are
included so inmates can manufacture goods or provide services for outside agencies. Some correctional systems
provide housing for conjugal visits, too.
A correctional facility is a large, expensive, and complex place to build and to maintain. Prisons and jails are
more costly to build than most other types of buildings. Construction and maintenance costs rise primarily in
proportion to the level of security required by the institution’s population. Other factors that influence construction
and maintenance costs include proximity to an urban area, regional climate, and soil and land characteristics.
There are other significant operational costs that must be considered in the design of a prison or jail. Correctional
facilities are always “open for business”; they are occupied every day and all day. This means that power and lighting,
mechanical and plumbing, and security and communication systems are always running. They are in constant need of
maintenance. Their various systems are used heavily, and they need to be repaired or replaced frequently. Prison and
jail facilities are never truly complete because their changing populations and space needs demand expansion or
alteration, which leads to ongoing renovation. And like all buildings, correctional facilities must face the unpredictable
effects of wear and tear, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fire, and other natural disasters.
The prison design tends to react to new or changed conditions, operations, or programs. In the process,
correctional design often employs technology originally devised for other building types. Rarely is a new technology
invented for use in a correctional environment. Usually, a new technology is adapted slowly for prison use after first
proving itself in some other arena. For example, most forms of the electronic life safety and surveillance and control
systems now common in modern jails and prisons were common in schools, hospitals, dormitories, and the like well
before they made their way into corrections.
Evolving technology presents significant benefits and challenges to population management, too. Digital
technology gives today’s prison and jail administrator tools that far surpass the hand-operated means of keeping track
of inmate and staff records commonly used only a few decades ago. At the same time, digital technology presents
serious concerns when it drifts into the hands of the inmate population. Architecturally, the modern institution needs
to provide space dedicated to contain, protect, and upgrade equipment that supports and monitors both wired and
wireless electronic signals.
A correctional institution of any size is a place for people to live and for others to work. Correctional architecture
needs to contribute to a sense of safety and health in both of these groups as they go about their lives. Obviously,
correctional institutions can be dangerous places, and they can readily become a setting for the worst in mass human
behavior. Almost every day in a correctional institution, life is a repetition of the day before. On occasion, although,
disturbances occur, exposing people—staff and inmates alike—to serious threats. Balancing the dichotomous nature
of the culture it serves is a massive challenge in the process of designing a correctional facility.
Over the centuries, prison architecture has had the same central purpose—to separate convicted offenders from
the rest of society—but different forces have influenced how correctional facilities are designed:
• Social reformers dismayed at conditions they found in the justice system of their particular day
• Correctional science and classification systems that identify and separate offender types
• Management sciences used to train staff and manage resources
• Technological advances in construction systems, detention hardware, and electronic surveillance and control
Prison and jail architectures are driven by societal attitudes and directly relate to the purpose for which the institution
is designed. If the prevailing attitude is supportive of harsh punishment, institutions are designed and built to
emphasize harsh control features. If citizens wish to emphasize rehabilitation, the design will reflect more normalappearing, less-controlling architectural features. The history of prison design is a fascinating one, and it parallels
changes in expectations and attitudes that have shifted in American society.
Institution Security and Classification
A Serious Assault
The warden and 15 staff members at Green Point State Prison were served on Monday. The lawsuit alleged serious
negligence on the part of senior administrators as well as the correctional officers on duty. The inmate, James Day,
had been violently assaulted 11 months ago, on the day of his arrival at this high-security state correctional institution.
It was inmate Day’s first time in a higher security institution. The inmate was initially serving his 3-year sentence
at a low-security facility, but the staff at the first institution observed very erratic behavior. Staff members quickly
determined that there may have been some mental issues with this fellow; he occasionally talked to himself, spoke
haughtily to staff and other inmates, and generally could not get along with others. It was believed that he should be
placed in a major institution where mental health resources were available on staff. Green Point did have four
psychologists employed. Even though Day would ordinarily not have been placed in a high-security facility, he was
sent to Green Point for medical and psychiatric assessment.
On the day of his arrival at the Green Point State Prison, intake screening staff made the decision to place the
transferred inmate in a detention cell away from the general population until a psychologist could assess his behavior.
Unfortunately, the only administrative detention cell available was a two-person cell that was already occupied by
another inmate. The officers on duty, thinking that this was an appropriate decision, placed him in the cell with the
other inmate. They noted in the record that the other inmate had no history of violent behavior.
One hour later, officers heard screaming in the cell. When they looked in the cell’s door window, they observed
inmate Day lying on the floor with blood running out of a huge gash on his forehead. He was immediately removed
from the cell and taken to the institution’s hospital, where the medical decision was made to place him in the nearby
town’s medical center for emergency care. He was returned 3 hours later with a diagnosis of trauma to his neck, face,
and forehead. He suffered a severe contusion to his throat and was unable to talk or use his vocal cords. Over the next
8 months, he did slowly regain full function of his voice, and his other injuries healed. One large scar remained on his
The inmate who assaulted Day claimed that Day insulted him when he arrived and continued to verbally berate
him. He said his anger simply got the better of him, and when Day was on his knees looking out the food trap on the
door, he kicked the back of his head, jamming his forehead, face, and throat into the door. He added that he did not
know why the staff had put that “crazy ol’ son of a bitch” in his cell, anyway!
• Did the Green Point staff handle this mental health case appropriately on his arrival?
• Would you offer any advice as to how inmate Day should have been treated differently?
• Did the detention officers deserve to be named in this lawsuit?
• Is it right that the warden, who did not ever know of this specific case, should be sued?
• Why is this an issue relating to inmate classification?
Custody and Security
Most inmates prefer a quiet, clean, and orderly prison where they can serve their time in a safe environment. A wellrun institution has a certain feel about it: The quiet rumble of daily activities with no loud noises, clean and shining
hallways, and lack of clutter in inmate cells signify that the staff is in charge and running the prison. Few inmates
benefit from disrupting daily activities. Proper security can ensure inmate safety and provide staff with good working
Security Begins with Inmate Classification
It is difficult to begin a discussion on institution security without first discussing proper classification of facilities and
inmates. Institutions must be designed to house a certain type of offender. Violent, aggressive, and escape-prone
inmates require more physical security features and staff resources.
Classification can best be defined as the systematic grouping of inmates into categories based on shared
characteristics and behavioral patterns. Using the inmate’s history, staff can make fairly accurate predictions about
the inmate’s future behavior and adjustment to incarceration. Inmates with similar characteristics living together in an
appropriately designed facility are much easier to manage. Likewise, a strong inmate among a weaker population can
wreak havoc. Escapes, assaults, and drug dealing very seldom occur in areas where the inmates are deliberately
But inmates may find ways to manipulate the system so that they can be in areas of the institution where there is
little staff supervision. On April 5, 2006, Richard McNair, a notorious inmate who was considered an extreme escape
risk and who had a history of compromising staff, escaped from the U.S. Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana. He was
able to avoid the higher degree of supervision normally afforded an inmate of his status. The inmate worked in Federal
Prison Industries, where he secreted himself in a pallet of mailbags being shipped from the prison. Subsequent searches
of the prison confirmed that the inmate had escaped. The escaped inmate was stopped by local police while he was
running along railroad tracks near the prison, but he was able to convince the police that he was a jogger.
Accountability Is Key
Knowing where inmates are at all times is a must in secure facilities. A system of callouts, passes, and controlled
movement at prescribed times greatly assists staff with inmate accountability. Housing unit officers should know
which inmates are in the unit and the destination of inmates leaving the housing unit. When inmates are given
assignments outside the unit, such as work or educational programs, the work supervisor, education staff member, or
some other staff person should be responsible for the inmate. A formal call-out system will greatly improve inmate
accountability when an inmate is needed at a certain place for a short period of time for medical appointments,
counseling sessions, and so on.
In addition to formal counts at prescribed times, random census counts should be taken. During such counts, all
institutions’ activitvities will stop and inmates are counted in place to quickly determine whether inmates are where
they should be. If census counts are not practical, supervisory correctional staff can periodically check various work
details, classrooms, or housing units to ensure that inmates are in their assigned areas.
Inmates should be informed of their responsibility to be in their authorized area. Disciplinary procedures should
be established to deter inmates from being in unauthorized areas. Of equal if not greater importance are procedures
that account for all staff and their approximate locations in the institution. Accounting for staff is difficult, as staff
usually have more mobility than inmates within the institution. During emergencies, accounting for staff should be
top priority. Determining whether the staff have been taken hostage has a tremendous effect on how the warden plans
to resolve demonstrations, riots, or other emergencies.
Preparing for Crisis
Even in the best-run prison, emergencies occur. At the very least, plans for dealing with escapes, riots, work or food
strikes, hostage situations, outside demonstrations, natural disasters, bomb threats, and evacuations are necessary to
ensure that staff are properly prepared to deal with emergencies. Prison administrators should identify those areas that
most concern them and prepare detailed plans to address these issues. If the prison is close to major roadways, shipping
lanes, or railways, plans should be developed in case of toxic or chemical spills. In areas susceptible to natural disasters
such as wildfires, hurricanes, or earthquakes, evacuation may be necessary to save lives (see Box 4-1).
Emergency plans should be informative and easy to read. Although brief, the plans should set out specific
responsibilities. The plans should be updated periodically as situations change. Emergency plans are only as good as
the preparation to implement them. All staff should be fully familiar with emergency plans. At least yearly, staff
should read and be given an opportunity to discuss the plans with peers and supervisors. Periodic mock exercises
improve staff knowledge and make them more comfortable with their roles in emergencies. Developing memoranda
of understanding and involving sister agencies and law enforcement in mock exercises will not only improve the
outside agencies’ knowledge of the correctional facility but foster good relationships.
Unacceptable Inmate Possessions
Controlling contraband should be a top priority in all correctional institutions regardless of security level. Contraband
is any item or article that an inmate is forbidden to possess. All correctional facilities provide inmates with medical
care, room and board, clothing, and basic hygiene items. Most facilities allow inmates to purchase items in the
commissary or receive items through other authorized channels. Anything else that the inmate possesses is contraband.
A series of major and minor institution disturbances in federal prisons began on October 19, 1995, and continued through
October 26. Fifteen separate incidents, ranging from full-scale riots to small episodes of inmates refusing to return to their
cells, taxed the resources of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and, considered together, constituted the most serious nationwide
period of disruption in the agency’s history.
These disturbances were primarily related to inmates’ extreme dissatisfaction with federal sentencing laws and
specifically the disparity between penalties for crack cocaine and powder cocaine. This generalized perception of racial
unfairness (crack violators were predominantly African American, and crack cocaine penalties were much higher than
powder cocaine penalties) created major tension. In this environment, any significant event might galvanize inmates to
action. Just such a spark occurred after Congress voted on October 19 not to reconcile the cocaine sentencing disparities.
That evening, there was the initial major riot at the Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Alabama.
Inmate perceptions of unfairness in the federal criminal justice system—external to the federal prisons—were based on
changes designed to toughen penalties against law violators. Lengthy mandatory minimum sentences, the crack cocaine
sentencing disparity issue, and loss of federal funding for selected inmate programs created significant resentment in many
federal prisons. External issues fueled the tension, and an external event—the congressional vote that was taken that day—
ignited the response.
On top of these external issues, the media reporting of the first disturbance meant that prisoners in other federal
institutions quickly learned of the event. There were reactions in 14 other federal facilities in the next week. The Federal
Bureau of Prisons took the unprecedented step of imposing a nationwide precautionary lockdown of its 92 prisons and
focused all tactical resources on the critical locations as events developed. The crisis management response to this event was
exceptional and led to the resolution of all situations with no serious injuries to staff or inmates.
Weapons, escape materials, or excess property that add fuel during fires are all equally dangerous in the right
circumstances. Most staff are acutely aware of the havoc that these items, as well as drugs and alcohol, can cause and
the resultant danger for staff and inmates. Other items such as materials to make dummies, either homemade rope or
buffer cords, maps, and unauthorized clothing pose a danger by facilitating inmate escapes. Gambling paraphernalia
lead to inmate assaults to collect debts.
Institutions should have regulations that restrict the amount of personal property that an inmate may possess.
Cluttered cells and excess personal property are excellent hiding places for more serious contraband. In addition, these
areas are much more difficult to search, tying up valuable staff time. Excess property can fuel fires and pose healthrelated hazards as breeding grounds for bacteria. Institution regulations should specify the amount of newspapers,
magazines, pants, shirts, and even underwear an inmate may possess. Medications should be tightly controlled. Legal
property provides great hiding places for contraband, as staff are reluctant to properly search legal items. The amount
of legal property that an inmate can possess should be specified and tightly controlled. It is important to properly
document seizure, confiscation, and disposition of contraband in case of civil lawsuits.
Staff must know what items enter and exit the prison. Incoming boxes and packages should be X-rayed before
entering the correctional institution and searched prior to being given to inmates. Visitors should pass through a metal
detector. Because most serious contraband, such as drugs, is introduced by inmate visitors, visitors who behave
suspiciously should be subject to a more thorough search prior to visiting. Thoroughly searching inmates following
visits also will deter the introduction of contraband. All vehicles should be thoroughly checked, and trash receptacles
should sit in the sally port through at least one count before being removed from the institution.
Random frequent searches of inmate living areas can greatly reduce contraband. Inmates who have a history of
hiding unauthorized items on their person or in their living area should be identified and searched more frequently.
Common areas in the housing unit should be searched daily in a systematic manner to ensure that all areas are covered.
Likewise, inmate work areas should be searched daily not only to check for contraband but also to make sure all
equipment and fixtures are complete with no missing parts. Bars, windows, frames, and doors should be checked
frequently to detect cuts and determine whether the locking devices have been tampered with. It is imperative that
staff account for all tools in the institution. Only authorized tools should be utilized by staff and inmates. Staff should
never bring personal tools into the institution. Should a tool be lost, all activity in the area should cease until a thorough
search is conducted and the tool found. Limiting access to computers will protect the sensitive information they
contain; two inmates at a federal penitentiary were able to obtain architectural drawings on a computer and make good
their escape through a utility tunnel.
Drugs and alcohol are highly disruptive to the daily activities in a prison. Regular urinalysis and breathalyzer tests
of suspected users and random tests of the entire population will determine the scope of use and deter abuse. During
the holidays, inmates are more lonely and susceptible to temptation, and accordingly, searches should be made even
more frequently to control fruit, sugar, and other items that may lead to a disruption.
When Communication Fails
Occasionally, it may be necessary to use physical force to gain an inmate’s compliance. Naturally, the preferred
scenario is for the inmate to comply with a verbal command, but in emotional and tense situations, this does not always
Having a written use of force policy greatly increases the probability of gaining the inmate’s compliance without
injury to staff or inmate. The policy should explicitly state when it is permissible to use physical force and describe
(in detail) the responsibilities of staff, from supervisors to those actually restraining the inmate. It is always best to
videotape the use of force to prevent abuse and protect staff in case of a civil lawsuit.
Immediate use of force occurs when an inmate acts out with little or no warning and staff are required to physically
restrain the inmate. These are highly charged, emotional incidents for both staff and inmate. Proper training allows
staff to gain control of the situation while controlling their own emotions and preventing inmate abuse. These incidents
should be well documented (e.g., in witness statements) by those involved.
A calculated use of force occurs when inmates are confined in an area and do not present an immediate threat to
themselves or others, yet are refusing to comply with staff orders. Staff should talk with these inmates to gain their
voluntary compliance and allow time for staff to fully assess the situation. Staff should determine whether the inmate
has weapons and whether it is necessary to use gas, other less than lethal munitions, or a well-trained extraction team
to move the inmate to the desired location. If more than one inmate is involved, the use of disturbance control or other
tactical teams may be required.
Proper use of force has a great influence on staff and inmate morale. A highly professional attitude concerning
use of force by administrative and supervisory staff will be modeled by line staff, prevent inmate abuse, and enhance
inmate compliance with rules and regulations. Unfortunately, the history of corrections is marred by instances of staff
physically abusing inmates. In many of these incidents, higher echelon staff have projected a cavalier or macho image
that was imitated by line staff.
Hands-On Management
Accurate and reliable information about staff, inmates, the political landscape, and the local community is essential to
running a well-organized and secure prison. The administrator who sits in the office waiting for information to arrive
through the hierarchical organizational structure is doomed to be woefully uninformed. Administrative staff should
tour the prison often to assess firsthand the atmosphere of the institution. Some inmates are chronic complainers, but
others go about their daily activities in an orderly fashion while being respectful to staff and other inmates. When this
latter group of inmates is unhappy, administrators should take heed and address the problems. Staff at all levels need
to talk and, more important, listen to inmates. If staff listen, inmates will tell them what is happening in the prison.
Staff who supervise inmate work details, teachers, counselors, and correctional officers working in the housing
units are often trusted by the inmates and are excellent sources of intelligence. A mechanism that allows these staff to
submit confidential reports of conversations and observations of inmates is critical to gathering accurate intelligence.
Once collected, this information can be analyzed and evaluated by specially trained intelligence staff. These informed
judgments allow administrators to manage institution security and forecast future security needs. Long-range strategic
planning based on accurate information allows the proper allocation of security assets.
Scanning Outside the Prison
Prisons do not operate in a vacuum but are integral parts of communities and larger correctional systems. Reading
daily newspapers and professional magazines and maintaining good relationships with elected officials will keep
prison administrators abreast of public sentiment and possible changes directed by politicians. Not too long ago,
prisons were forgotten places to the public and the political arena. Today, correctional institutions are major employers
and are very visible to local communities.
Prison and jail walls and fences are permeable in the sense that the external world has a strong influence on these
institutions. Televisions, radios, newspapers, telephone calls, visits, interaction with staff, and newly arriving inmates
all carry information from the outside community into the correctional environment. It is critical that penal
administrators stay tuned to events outside that may influence the attitudes and beliefs of those who are confined.
Some issues move inside the facility rapidly, and others take longer to affect the population. Staff must constantly be
alerted to the changes within and outside their institution.
Protecting Inmate Victims
Certain inmates present unique challenges to prison administrators. Running prisons would be easy if all inmates were
similar, serving their time and leaving when they completed their sentences. Good classification can ensure that similar
inmates are in the same prison, but changing situations in inmates’ lives plus loop-holes in the classification system
can sometimes place inmates in the wrong prison. One category of inmate that has always caused problems can best
be described as the “weaker” inmate. Weaker inmates typically have committed an especially heinous crime and have
received a long sentence that requires them to serve their sentence in a higher security institution. Once in prison, they
become prey for other inmates after the other inmates learn of their crime. Child sex offenders find it especially
difficult to serve their sentence in the general population once other inmates learn of their offense. Weaker inmates
usually spend great portions of their sentence in special housing units for protective custody. The weaker inmates are
frequently transferred between prisons, as they are unable to cope in the general population. Weaker inmates may act
out against staff, as they know that staff are prohibited from physically punishing them. In addition, weaker inmates
are often very litigious, filing institutional appeals and court documents complaining about their conditions of
confinement. Staff at all levels need to be properly trained in working with weaker inmates, as most cases of proven
staff abuse occur in this area.
Dangerous Inmates—The Assaultive, the Manipulative, and the Eager to Leave
In many ways, the aggressive inmate is easier to manage than the weaker inmate. The highly assaultive, combative
inmate lives best in a prison with other aggressive inmates. Aggressors seldom prey on aggressors. Many states and
the federal system have developed supermaximum penitentiaries to house aggressive inmates. Because the criteria for
transfer to “supermaxes” are usually behavior based, many staff and other inmates are the target of these inmates’
aggressions before their placement in the supermax. In systems that operate without a supermaximum prison,
aggressive inmates spend much of their sentences in special housing units. Policies and guidelines for handling
aggressive inmates should be specific and followed by all staff. Ensuring staff safety is paramount when dealing with
aggressive and combative inmates.
Sophisticated or manipulative inmates target staff, other inmates, and the political system to gain items or favors
that are otherwise prohibited. They often have tremendous resources in the community, including finances and support
groups. The media may follow up their incarceration and show continued interest in their plight. These inmates may
be leaders or may quietly give advice and counsel to inmate leaders. They are experts at detecting and exploiting staff
insecurities and procedural weaknesses.
There are also inmates whose every waking moment is filled with fantasies of escape. These inmates tend to be
smarter and more adept at recognizing weaknesses in physical structures and procedures. These inmates may take
months and even years to closely observe staff for any habits or consistent failures to follow policy that these inmates
may exploit. Many successful escapes involve the inmate simply walking out the front or rear entrance to the institution
following visiting times or at shift changes. One notorious prisoner who had a history of escape was able to obtain
what appeared to be civilian clothing and was actually escorted out of a correctional institution by staff who assumed
he was a parole examiner. Other stories entail the inmate working for months, hoarding escape paraphernalia to breach
physical structures to make good an escape. Almost every investigative report following an attempted or successful
escape reveals poor security procedures or staff’s failure to follow proper procedures.
Security Threat Groups
Gang activity is increasing in major cities, rural communities, and prisons. Gangs are responsible for the majority of
homicides and assaults in prison. Well-organized, highly structured prison gangs have been around for decades. These
gangs have strong leaders and exert pressure on other inmates through violence or the threat of violence. They are
interested only in providing illicit drugs, alcohol, and contraband to other prisoners, and prison programs mean little
to them (see Box 4-2).
In recent years, more street gang members have been incarcerated. In addition, more inmates have sought
membership in groups from a certain city or geographical area. These gangs are unpredictable, less structured, and, in
many ways, more difficult to manage than the traditional prison gangs. Several state prison systems have developed
strategies to deal with gangs. Some correctional systems just deny the existence of gangs. In still other systems, the
problem is so complex that it defies solution. Controlling gangs and their disruptive activities will haunt many prison
administrators until solutions are found.
An institution’s security staff perform heroic and often dangerous duty, 24 hours a day, each and every day of the
year. Maintaining control of a correctional environment is a daunting task, given the uncooperative nature of many of
the inmates and the challenges they present to the staff. The key to a prison or jail security system’s success is a welltrained staff who are held accountable for detail and required to be alert to the inmate population. Positive
accountability of inmates and an appropriate sense of order and discipline are mandatory. A prison or jail must develop
a culture that treats prisoners with respect, always reinforces positive communication between staff and inmates, and
offers inmates a humane, safe, and sanitary institutional program. Good security is a product of good leadership and
results from high-quality staff who believe their work makes a difference. And indeed it does. Those who work
“inside” and contribute to the daily supervision of inmates are public servants in the finest sense of the term.
Wasco State Prison
In September 2005, a series of gang-related disturbances swept through two California state prison facilities at Wasco State
Prison in Bakersfield, California. Although authorities did not identify specific causes of the disturbances, new reports
indicated that a prison spokesman said such riots are often caused by issues of respect.
The four large-scale disturbances in two co-joined institutions involved two separate inmate gangs, the Southern
Hispanics and the Fresno Bulldogs. The prison public information officer stated that these two groups cannot be placed in
the same high-security prison together or problems erupt. However, this series of incidents occurred in Wasco prison, a
facility for lower-security-level offenders. One riot took place while inmates were in the recreation yard for exercise, and
the other three smaller incidents occurred in dorm facilities.
San Quentin State Prison
The largest riot at the San Quentin State Prison in 23 years left 42 inmates injured on August 1, 2005. A fight broke out
between white and Latino inmates in a medium-security dormitory-style housing unit that houses approximately 900
prisoners, according to the institution’s public information officer. As many as 80 inmates were involved in several buildings.
It took about 50 correctional officers armed with batons and pepper spray to quell the disturbance. The incident lasted
less than 10 minutes. Staff believed that the incident was kicked off when one member of a prison gang disrespected another
The north–south gang rivalry in California has been ongoing for nearly 40 years.
Inmate Classification
Most penal facilities offer social service staff to provide classification and program/work advisory services for their
inmate populations. As one of the main responsibilities in a correctional facility, classification involves categorizing
offenders by assessing an individual’s social and criminal background and current programming needs and assigning
him or her to an appropriately secure institution, housing area, work assignment, and program (see Figure 5-1). How
classification is organized and conducted varies a great deal by jurisdiction, type of facility, and institutional staffing
Previously, all decisions about an inmate’s security and prison assignments for work and housing were generally
made by a senior management official designated by the warden, often the deputy warden. This individual controlled
all aspects of life inside the institution and made unilateral decisions based strictly on his or her often limited
knowledge of inmates, their deportment, and their attitudes. Although this was an effective method of establishing
consistent governance in a punitive environment, little attention was directed to interaction with the prisoners, and
virtually no emphasis was given to the goal of positively influencing an inmate’s life.
As this process evolved, this responsibility shifted from the deputy warden to a classification committee. In most
correctional facilities, classification committees are large groups of subject matter experts who gather regularly to
evaluate new inmates or to reclassify inmates for custody, housing, work, and program assignments. The committee
is often chaired by a senior management official such as an associate warden and comprises the heads of institution
departments such as the captain of security, the chief of classification, the supervisor of education, and the inmate’s
case manager. Many case management committees require the attendance of the inmate being reviewed.
As a primary link of communication between inmates and staff, as well as an important connection to the
individual’s future life in the community, the case management team is responsible for a significant part of an
institution’s operation. The team may be a small department of overworked case workers or a large, organized network
of social work and case management staff who consistently work with inmates, including unit managers, case
managers (also known as case workers or social workers), counselors, education representatives, psychologists, and
secretaries. Responsibilities of the team include inmate classification, social service support, institution program
planning, and release preparation. Most correctional professionals believe that these tasks are critical to today’s prison
and jail operations. The personnel who manage and work in prison and jail facilities recognize the need to separate
the many different types of felons who are held in confinement facilities. Separating inmates (male from female, sick
from healthy, youth from adult, and aggressive from passive) is a function that has important ramifications for all
aspects of institution operations. Inmate classification is simply sorting inmates into appropriate categories. Once the
correct category is determined, many other decisions can be made.
Accurate inmate classification is one of the primary factors that contribute to a safe and orderly penal
environment. The classification of inmates is a process that ensures that a correctional system places inmates in an
appropriate institution that can provide the necessary amount of security and supervision. All state prison systems, as
well as the Federal Bureau of Prisons, utilize similar systems that separate inmates based on the level of security
required to control and contain them. It would not be safe to place a hardened, violent offender in a correctional facility
designed for minimum security individuals. Conversely, it would be a waste of taxpayer funds to confine a nonviolent
offender in a maximum security institution.
Many state correctional agencies operate one or more central reception centers; all newly committed inmates are
placed initially at one of these institutions, where they are reviewed and classified. Once the classification process has
been completed, staff know what the inmate’s security requirements are and what programs may be important during
the offender’s confinement. The reception center staff are then able to select an appropriate prison that will meet the
inmate’s security and program needs.
History of Classification
Early penal facilities housed violators in the same detention facilities without any consideration of their gender, age,
health, criminal history, or current offense. Over time, correctional practitioners recognized the value of separating
offenders. Early classification simply involved separating male and female offenders, juveniles and adults, and firsttime or nonviolent offenders from more frequent or serious offenders.
Historically, institutional managers used their subjective judgment to assign inmates to various security levels.
Staff members would simply consider the offender’s age, prior record, current offense and sentence, and institutional
adjustment. Simply stated, these decisions were made based on intuition and experience. However, decisions could
be affected by unacceptable factors such as an inmate’s race, gender, or poor social skills. Accordingly, discrimination
could cloud each individual decision.
Early classification committees were made up of only senior staff members who did not know the individual
inmate well. Eventually, team classification developed; case management and security staff who worked with the
inmate on a regular basis were charged with making initial and ongoing decisions related to classification and daily
operational inmate requests. This system continued to evolve and became the case management system.
Case Management
Case management focuses on the provision of social support programs to an inmate population, and case management
staff maintain the official classification documents for each inmate. In many jurisdictions, these staff members are not
only responsible for determining the prisoner’s custody and security needs but are also charged with helping the
inmates plan their institution-based work and program assignments, representing the inmate to the parole board,
offering counseling services, providing connections to the community, and handling release planning. Case managers
perform myriad tasks that pertain to inmates’ daily lives and guide inmates’ activities with the ultimate goal of helping
them make successful transitions back to their home communities after release.
Case managers or counselors are responsible for inmates from the time they first arrive in a correctional setting.
Initial screening of new arrivals is generally accomplished by social service staff members who ask new prisoners
about their needs. Interviewers ask if the inmate feels he or she needs protection from other people he or she may have
testified against and try to identify other potential enemies within the institution’s general population. Screening
questions also seek information about the offender’s physical and mental health and other pressing management issues.
Case management staff gather background information about new inmates in pre- or postsentence reports
(prepared for the sentencing courts by probation and parole officers) and seek other basic information about
individuals. This attempt to gather information about the inmate is a direct result of a philosophical change in
contemporary corrections. As prisons and jails began to do more than simply house offenders, most correctional
agencies during the early 1960s began to implement rehabilitation programs; this was known as the medical model.
Supporters of the medical model believed that criminality was an illness and that inmates could be cured of their social
deviance by program involvement during confmement. The resulting emphasis on treatment required staff to focus
on the criminal rather than the crime.
Once the case manager gathers information about the individual’s prior arrest record, adjustment to earlier periods
of incarceration, and social data about family and friends, he or she prepares a classification study report (in most
jurisdictions). This document identifies the prisoner, mentions social factors that may have led to his or her offenses,
and recommends institutional programs that may help prepare the individual for release. Details about the inmate’s
program participation or lack of progress are added to the record throughout his or her confinement.
In many correctional systems, the initial assessment is completed at a reception and diagnostic center over a
period of 4–8 weeks. In the jurisdictions that utilize these centers, the newly arrived prisoner is put through an
extensive evaluation that often includes a complete personality assessment, intelligence and psychometric testing,
review of past work habits and lifestyle, observation of how he or she interacts with staff and inmates, and
identification of those factors that may have led the individual to crime. In other jurisdictions that do not have reception
and diagnostic centers, inmates are committed directly to an institution and go through a similar classification process.
Once the background classification report is prepared, the inmate is then formally evaluated at a classification
meeting. This meeting entails the development of an integrated work assignment, permanent housing, and educational,
vocational, and social improvement programs for the offender.
Classification is the backbone of the security program of any prison or jail. It is imperative that staff know the
background of each inmate and the threat each presents to the effective custodial management of the facility.
Necessary basic information includes:
• Age
• Sex
• Social history
• Criminal sophistication
• History of violent or aggressive behavior
• Special needs (e.g., mental or medical issues)
• Potential challenges to security (e.g., escape history, gang membership)
• Special management factors (e.g., judicial recommendation, racial balance, program availability)
• Institutional capacity, availability, and security
If a realistic assessment is accomplished by case management staff, the inmate can be placed in housing with
appropriate security and all other aspects of institution management will follow accordingly. It is important that
inmates be placed in the least restrictive facility that is able to meet their security needs.
Once they classify and assign inmates, case managers track them throughout their confinement, offering
assistance with the supervision of inmates, participating in discipline hearings, tracking progress, and continually
assessing needs for program reassignment. Classification is not a one-time event but an ongoing procedure. The case
manager serves as the offender’s liaison to the classification committee for any changes in his or her program that are
desired. Program modifications could include changes in work assignment, approvals for program participation,
requests for transfer, consideration for custody reduction, or housing assignments. Case managers may also provide
counseling support and approve and supervise outside visitors.
The final key component of case management staff is release planning, which actually begins at the time of initial
classification. The appropriate goals of all institutional classification and programming should be to ensure the safety
and security of all inmates and staff and prepare the offender for successful transition back to free society. In all
interactions with offenders, staff should encourage inmates to improve or increase their educational opportunities, job
skills, self-sufficiency, and responsibility for their lives.
Unit Management
In recent decades, many correctional systems have adopted a unit management approach to classification. Unit
management involves dividing a large prison or jail population into smaller groups, often separated by housing unit.
This decentralized form of management delegates much more decision-making authority to the staff who know the
offenders the best—those who supervise inmates in the housing units. Having staff offices in the unit also serves the
important goals of augmenting the day-to-day supervision of inmates and makes staff more accessible to the inmate
Functional unit management is, simply put, the decentralization of case management services to a diverse, eclectic
group of staff from different departments of the institution. The concept behind unit management is to subdivide the
larger prison or jail into smaller groups of inmates, generally with their own housing unit, with staff offices within the
unit. Similar to case management, inmate classification decisions are made by a unit management team. General policy
establishes operational guidelines for these separate teams, and these staff members are empowered to make inmate
classification, program, and housing decisions.
Comparison of Management Models
Unlike case management, the decentralized unit management model permits decisions about inmates to be made by
the staff who know the inmates best. Clearly, when staff offices are next to inmate housing, staff can better supervise
and get to know inmates. Positive, professional relationships are more likely to develop between inmates and staff.
Daily interaction is helpful. Relationships among staff members are often greatly improved by unit management.
Interdisciplinary staff of various departments who are assigned to a specific unit develop close working relationships
that facilitate a productive working environment. In general, research has demonstrated that staff and inmate morale
is improved with unit management. Inmates are much more pleased with responsive staff who know them, and staff
are glad to have the authority to make program decisions.
However, there are some negative aspects to the decentralization of prison management. It is much more difficult
to maintain consistency in classification decision making when multiple teams are involved in inmate management
determinations. It is critical that senior management establish overarching policy to guide the unit teams in their
decision making. It is also important that penal institutions with unit management have open and effective lines of
communication for staff and inmates. If unit staff are aware of inmate unrest or brewing tensions, they must share this
knowledge with senior staff members.
There are three main functions of unit management: correction, care, and control. Correction refers to the
rehabilitative function of prisons and jails; care describes the assistance, resources, and support given to inmates;
and control means the level of required custodial supervision. All of these functions are crucial to the administration
of justice and successful prison or jail management. Unit management offers an efficient means of achieving these
Objective Classification
A good, functional classification system should be easy to use and sensitive enough to reflect the need for change as
an offender progresses through the service of his or her sentence. A typical inmate classification system is designed
to consider the inmate’s criminal and social history, the current crime, and the length of confinement and, over time,
reflect how the offender responds to confinement. Classification is designed to predict an individual’s risk for violence
or escape and is based empirically on his or her past behavior. An individual’s classification is made by reviewing
that person’s propensity for violent behavior.
Objective, fact-based classification facilitates agency-wide consistency that can be defended rationally and is
perceived as equitable by all those involved in the process, including the inmates. Once the classification system has
been validated, personal characteristics can be quantified, and each inmate can be scored accurately. Furthermore, the
system can facilitate rescoring based on an offender’s progress while incarcerated.
An objective prison classification system must be both reliable and valid. Reliability means that the classification
instrument consistently does what it purports to do; in other words, no matter which staff member utilizes the
classification instrument for a specific inmate, the same result will be reached. Validity refers to the fact that the
classification instrument is accurate in assessing a prisoner’s future behavior and propensity for violence.
Contemporary correctional classification is based on the philosophy that an inmate is to be classified at the least
restrictive security and custody level that meets the individual’s needs. Correctional administrators must also ensure
that an individual’s classification considers the all-important issue of public safety. Although practitioners do not want
to overclassify an inmate, it is equally important not to underclassify the offender. Sometimes, this will mean that
classification personnel will have to override the classification instrument. For example, a sex offender with a clean
record throughout confinement may be eligible for consideration for a minimum security or trustee work assignment.
But the nature of his or her offense may well preclude such consideration based on the potential serious threat to the
community by the offender if he or she were to escape.
Research has demonstrated with significant validity and reliability that an individual’s past behavior predicts
future behavior. Therefore, objective classification instruments should:
• Be validated on prison populations
• Utilize the same standards for all inmates
• Use a rational, uncomplicated process that is based on factors that are related directly to the classification
• Recommend classification decisions that are based on the offender’s background
• Promote consistent decisions for similarly situated offenders
• Use a process that is understood easily by staff and inmates
• Allow staff to monitor the inmate’s progress efficiently and effectively
Once the individual’s security needs have been determined, staff members may develop plans to designate an
appropriate institution for long-term incarceration. Inmates are generally assigned to an institution that meets their
security needs, is as close to their home community as possible, and offers the appropriate programs to address their
specific program needs. Each state correctional system utilizes its own institutional classification system, and there is
not necessarily consistency among states as to the name of each security level.
Although formal classification systems are based on firm data points, most systems also allow the final
classification to be modified by the professional judgment of staff. It is important to allow staff judgment to enter the
final decision and, if necessary, override the formula of the classification instrument.
External Versus Internal Classification Systems
External classification is a process that determines how much security a specific inmate requires to ensure his or her
safety and the safety of others. This facilitates making a decision as to which level of security the inmate should be
assigned. This classification decision is generally made at a central reception center that processes newly sentenced
offenders into the correctional system.
An internal classification system is utilized to determine an inmate’s housing, work, and program assignments.
Many special programs such as drug abuse treatment or protective custody housing have specific criteria for inmate
placement, and an internal classification system matches the right inmate population to the program resource.
Inmate classification and reclassification represent an outstanding means of keeping up to date with an inmate as he
or she progresses. Recognizing that an inmate can and will change over time, for better or worse, staff must track these
changes. If an offender’s behavior deteriorates, staff should consider a transfer to a higher security institution. If an
inmate exhibits good behavior and a positive attitude, staff may want to consider a transfer to a less secure facility at
some point.
Initial classification should also be used to identify an inmate’s program needs. Most prison facilities offer a large
array of self-improvement programs that can have a positive effect on an inmate. Treatment programs include
academic education, vocational education, mental health care, substance abuse programs, individual and group
counseling, anger management, and many other opportunities. Many of these programs are not only effective in terms
of changing behavior, but they also play an important part in keeping inmates productively and positively engaged.
The outcomes of positive and effective institutional programs serve all parties well—staff, inmates, and the general
Gender Differences
Female offenders are often subject to a separate classification standard than are male inmates. Research and experience
have established that men and women react differently in similar situations in a prison environment. In general, women
are much less violent than men. Although women are not often involved in large amounts of violent behavior in
prison, they do act violently on occasion. This violence is predictable with a valid and reliable classification system.
Research also concludes that female offenders should be classified using a separate classification system from males
to ensure that gender-specific predictors are identified.
Inmate classification, if appropriately accomplished, serves all aspects of institutional management. Inmates and staff
are safer, institutional organization by security level is cost-effective, and program resources may be focused on the
specific group of inmates who will most benefit from an activity. Classification of offenders will minimize the risk of
escape and violence, provide a good rationale for the assignment of correctional staff, and provide the ability to
minimize risk within the facility.
The ability to distinguish among groups of confined felons gives institutional personnel an outstanding tool in
terms of staff safety and inmate accountability. Staff have an affirmative responsibility to operate correctional facilities
in a safe manner and in such a way that protects the public’s safety. Classification is at the center of these key
obligations and provides staff members with the ability to execute their extremely important public service roles

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