February 12, 2019
If you find yourself at the All About Jails, LLC website and blog, then you have something to do with local jails. You are an attorney, risk manager or jail administrator involved in litigation regarding an event in a jail (in-custody death, injury or assault, medical treatment, lack of medical treatment or a list of other matters that I can help you with). Since I can’t blog about matters I have handled (confidentiality agreements) and I can’t blog about the facilities I manage (I have to keep my consulting work and public work separate), you will find subjects that I have read about in news feeds and then in a purely fictional way, I will comment about elements you should be chatting with your client, attorney, expert witness or jail administrator you represent.
All of the topics listed in this blog are topics that are common in the jail environment and are not based on any particular case or matter I have worked on. Before you implement an idea in this blog in your own jail or operation (translation…Ric said this was a good idea so I did it) consult with your legal counsel, elected official or client.
With that said, here is today’s brief topic: Inmate Assaults and Injuries
Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, before we had 200 channels to choose from (and still nothing to watch), we had the “Made for TV Movie”. Inevitably, every once in a while the innocent 18 year boy or girl, wife with a traffic ticket or thinly built man would end up in the movie and in jail for the first time. Next scene, they are being walked into a cellblock by an uncaring jail guard (I don’t use the word guard very often because of the exact image it is painting in your mind right now) and while carrying their blanket and pillow are pushed into a cell. As they look around at the metal bunk bed, the sinister music starts and they see their cellmate for the first time. Their cellmate is a hardened con (pick the gender based on the movie) with tattoos and a tooth challenged smile. The music gets louder and the con stands up smiling as our victim is backing into the cell bars. The camera is then blocked, and we go to commercial. The rest of the movie is not hard to script but somewhere in there litigation occurs.
To reduce violence, victimization and predatory behavior in jails, all well run facilities should have a basic classification system. A classification system is a process by which the newly arrived inmate is interviewed and their living unit or assignment is determined by an objective process. Objective classification takes into a account the persons charges, medical and mental challenges, enemies, gang affiliations, gender (or gender preference which is an entirely separate blog entry that is coming to this website in the next few weeks), institutional history, education, potential for release and unique issues or challenges (read into this police officer, elected official, celebrity, etc.). Based on your classification system (points or decision tree) the person’s security level is determined along with program needs. Based on this information, and your predetermined housing security levels, you determine a housing assignment for the person.
Your policies and procedures (another blog entry coming soon) should be updated and have a schedule of classification reviews (a person can either earn their way into less restrictive housing and privileges with good behavior, or earn their way into more restrictive housing by breaking jails rules, it is up to the inmate involved). Classification should be an ongoing process for your facility as well as for each individual inmate. The use of an objective classification system, and making sure it is updated and followed), is one of the keys to reducing inmate violence, reducing your risk of assaults and injuries in your jail, and improve the overall safe and orderly operation of your facility.
For more information, search the Internet for the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and then searching their site for Objective Classification. These steps should provide you with a list of documents and reference PDFs. Case law information and additional background materials can be obtained by searching for Americans for Effective Law Enforcement (AELE) and then reviewing their website under Jails and Prisons. These websites are free and will provide good information on this topic.
Or, if you have questions or comments, please email me and I will get back to you as I can.