Restrictive housing, when used effectively, can help jail staff maintain safety and protect vulnerable inmates. However, overuse of this tool has led to ongoing problems for jails throughout the country. Constant vigilance of restrictive housing procedures and practices is necessary.
One of the primary ways jails can limit their liability, accurately classify inmates, and efficiently handle an influx of inmates is by using pre-classification, also known as initial classification, housing.
One third of adults in prison are mentally ill. One quarter have a co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorder. Prison inmates are seven times more likely than others in their community to have a substance abuse disorder.
In this episode, Dr. Tim Brennan, leading criminologist and classification/assessment expert, takes decades of research and simplifies it into practical, actionable information that justice professionals can start using on-the-job immediately.
Let’s jump right to the bottom line: The key to effectively managing inmate behavior is classification. Past generations of jails relied on physical barriers to maintain safety. Inmates were expected to behave badly, and they did. The focus was on containment, not management.
How often is your team injured on the job? How often do illnesses and injuries require absences from work? How stressed is your team? For most jail supervisors, the answer to all three questions is VERY. The National Institute of Justice (2017) reports that correctional officers experience higher rates of nonfatal workplace injuries and absences due to work-related illnesses and injuries than most other professions, topped only by police officers and security guards. Correctional officers also experience high levels of stress and negative mental health outcomes.
When an accused offender arrives in your booking room, unknown factors abound. It’s your job to get a handle on the situation as quickly as possible, to book and house individuals appropriately, and to ensure the safety of everyone in your jail.
Managing inmates who are disruptive and/or violent. Protecting inmates who are vulnerable. Maintaining order. Respecting rights and dignities. Your job isn’t easy.
It’s easy to fall into a defeatist mindset around inmate litigation. Even the most dedicated justice professionals can become jaded over time, and for good reason. Some inmates arelitigious. Some lawsuits are frivolous. Yet many issues spring from a legitimate complaint that can be easily addressed by your agency before spiraling into lawsuit status.
As a jail administrator, let’s say you’re not only able to implement a validated classification instrument to help with inmate classification, you’ve also installed a series of modules to help with overall organization and workflow management. But soon you realize that these systems are filled with features that don’t apply to how you run your jail, and the features that are supposed to help you break down.