An Examination of the COMPAS Classification: Results from a Study Conducted for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office

A robust and defensible inmate classification system is vital to ensuring the orderly and safe operation of a correctional facility. On average, local jails in the U.S. house over 750,000 people per day. Most inmates are pretrial detainees who have yet to be convicted of a crime. Others have already been convicted and may be serving time locally or awaiting transfer to prison to serve their sentences. The crimes represented run from minor to very serious.

Correct classification:
􏰀 Enhances management by providing information necessary for housing decisions, for inmate over- sight within housing areas, and for identifying candidate pools for work/program assignments and alternatives to incarceration. Separation of inmates into security levels ensures that individuals within these levels have access only to people of similar risk.
􏰀 Limits litigation exposure for the agency due to victimization issues. A facility with poorly classified inmates will typically be chaotic and difficult to manage, leading to safety concerns for the staff and inmates.

Separating individuals into homogenous groups based on fair and objective criteria is the foundation of an objective jail classification system, and continual review and reclassification ensures that an individual’s security level remains current and accurate. The Northpointe Classification System relies on a narrow set of well-defined legal factors accepted by the courts to guide placement of inmates into security groups.

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