Northpointe Seal


Six Steps to Comprehensive Inmate Classification

By: Joe Robbins, equivant Corrections’ Implementation Specialist

Although the primary objective of inmate classification is to ensure the safety and security of both inmates and staff, it must also promote the effective management of the correctional environment. To that end, inmate classification involves much more than leveraging a tool or instrument to determine the security level of the detainees in your facility. A strategic, comprehensive approach to inmate classification includes:

  1. Data Gathering: Inmate classification starts with assembling information that helps in evaluating the risk level posed by each individual. This assessment considers factors such as the nature of the offense, criminal history, behavior within the facility, sentence status, stability factors, etc.
  2. Data Validation:  Next, data reliability and relevance to the task at hand must be considered. True objective inmate classification (and subsequent inmate management) is dependent on the integrity of the data being used to make decisions. 
  1. Action: With valid data, comprehensive classification can include use of the Northpointe Decision Tree. With this tool, the inmates are classified into different security levels. This classification helps determine the level of supervision necessary to maintain safety and security. It also helps agency staff determine the appropriate housing units within the facility and the level of permissions and restrictions. 
  2. Needs Assessments: Understanding the specific needs of each inmate is crucial for providing appropriate interventions and support. The assessments include factors like mental health issues, substance abuse issues, educational level, vocational skills, and social support networks.
  3. Program Placement: Based on their behavior AND the assessed needs inmates may be assigned to various programs and services based on those needs. These programs could include substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, educational classes, vocational training, anger management courses, or reentry programs aimed at preparing inmates for successful reintegration into society upon release. 
  4. Reassessment and Review: Classification is an ongoing process that requires periodic reassessment to account for changes in an inmate’s legal status, behavior, needs, or circumstances. Regular reviews ensure that inmates are consistently assigned to the correct security level, placed in the most appropriate location, and receiving the necessary support and interventions throughout their incarceration.

By offering comprehensive inmate classification services, jails optimize the allocation of resources within correctional facilities and promote safety and security.  In addition, comprehensive, strategic classification helps reduce recidivism by matching inmates with appropriate levels of supervision, support, and programming based on their individual risk factors and needs. This approach also helps ensure inmates are treated objectively and in accordance with legal and ethical standards. For an evaluation of your classification methods, please contact us. 

equivant Corrections Insights