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Inmate Behavior Management: Brazos County Jail Case Study

NCJ Number
Scott Hoke, Ph.D.
Date Published
December 2013
16 pages

This case study of the Brazos County Jail (Texas) is an example of how one jail planned and implemented the National Institute of Corrections' Inmate Behavioral Management (IBM) initiative.


The primary lesson of this case study is that organizational change is a process, not an event (Fixen et al., 2005), which is only achieved through careful planning and preparation that, in most instances, takes months. The comprehensive IBM initiative has six elements that work together to control inmate behavior and create an efficient and effective organization. These elements involve assessing risks and needs; assigning inmates to housing; meeting inmates' basic needs; defining and conveying expectations for inmates; supervising inmates; and keeping inmates productively occupied. In implementing the elements of IBM, the Brazos County Jail is an example of how strong organizational management strategies overcame the weaknesses of a poor jail design that posed significant physical challenges for officer-inmate interaction. Strong management practices were able to overcome these design impediments. A critical aspect of the change management was training for staff on a number of issues that supported the behavioral management process. The focus of the IBM training was on increasing the frequency and quality of staff interactions with inmates. County officials' interest in auditing the sustainability of the IBM system distinguishes the Brazos initiative. County officials were eager to prevent reversion to behavior patterns prevalent prior to the IBM implementation. This effort featured a sustainability audit that has been conducted periodically to measure compliance with the six IBM elements. Recommendations from a process evaluation are to ensure the quality of the initial classification assessment; allow staff to establish behavioral expectations; recognize the importance of active supervision; conduct post-implementation and sustainability audits; and use IBM as a foundation for problem analysis. 6 exhibits and 15 references