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Screening Jail Inmates: An Effective Tool for Improving Security

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 53 Issue: 4 Dated: (July 1991) Pages: 80,82,84-85
J Austin
Date Published
4 pages
In 1986 the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) funded a project jointly administered by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and the Correctional Services Group to devise an objective classification system that will meet the unique needs of jails and be readily adaptable to jails of all sizes.
An objective classification system uses classification instruments that have been validated for inmate populations, applies the same classification approach for all inmates, assigns inmates to custody levels consistent with their backgrounds, and provides for staff to manage similar offenders the same way. The NIC-sponsored jail objective classification system uses evaluation tools that meet criteria for validity, reliability, equity, and utility. The 3-part system consists of an inmate screening form, an initial custody assessment, and custody reassessment. The inmate screening form uses a checklist format that addresses four assessment factors: substance abuse needs, suicide risk, mental health needs, and medical health needs. The initial custody assessment identifies inmates with special needs and determines each inmate's custody level. Custody reassessment involves the continuous monitoring of an inmate's behavior while confined to ensure that custody levels are reflective of current behavior. This evaluation provides incentive for good behavior through structured rewards and punishments.


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