U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Special Service Unit: Dedicated to Investigating and Apprehending Violent Offenders

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 63 Issue: 6 Dated: October 2001 Pages: 120-123
Brian Parry
Susan L. Clayton
Date Published
4 pages
This article examined the responsibilities of the Special Services Unit established by the California Department of Corrections to increase liaison activities between the corrections and law enforcement community.
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) established the Special Service Unit as an essential part of the department’s violence control program. Commonly referred to as SSU, it has been described as a police unit within a correctional agency. The SSU was formulated to enhance activities between the corrections and law enforcement community. The unit’s duties and responsibilities were honed to reflect its mission to: provide State-level investigative liaison services to local police agencies; provide investigative services to CDC’s prisons and correctional institutions, the Parole and Community Services Division, and the departmental administration; coordinate the California Prison Gang Task Force and function as the department’s gang intelligence operation; provide training for departmental employees and law enforcement agencies regarding prison gangs, criminal investigation, and departmental operations; and function as the department’s Fugitive Apprehension Program. During the past four decades, the unit operational responsibilities remained true to its mission, but out of necessity, expanded to meet departmental needs. The Parole-at-Large apprehension program was transferred to the unit. Additionally, the unit has functional supervision of 30 investigators assigned to the institutions with the sole responsibility of investigating gang activity. This blend of street agents and prison investigators makes for a unique intelligence system actively involved in enforcement, prevention, and information sharing. SSU has been in existence for nearly four decades and continues to expand and respond to challenges presented by the largest prison and parole system in the country. The unit has a tradition of continuously performing well and remains a vital tool when faced with critical incident and violent offenders.