Managing Risk Through Offender Classification

Discussion Board #3 – Maximum Security Inmate Classification

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In Chapter 10 – Managing Risk Through Offender Classification, we learned how classification and risk assessment are used to improve the effectiveness of correctional agencies.  

Risk Management and the Classification of Prison Inmates

Initial Classification Process:  Until the 1970s, most states used the clinical classification process, to decide what type of prison housing, work assignment, and treatment programs would be best for the inmate. Currently, most states use an objective classification system—an actuarial risk assessment—to determine an inmate’s initial assignment to a prison. During the 1970s, correctional agencies attempted to identify factors in an inmate’s background and prison behavior that are predictive of violence or escape. Objective classification systems were developed that could assign weighted scores to various background, sentence, and behavioral factors.

changes in program needs

Reclassification of Inmates: After initial classification, prison staff regularly review inmates’ progress and move them to a different security level when their needs warrant a change.  The reclassification review is used to modify the original classification and possibly reassign the inmate to a different prison. Reclassification has three basic purposes:

  1. to consider changes in program needs, mental health, or medical condition;
  2. as an incentive for good behavior by dropping the security level of inmates who conform and follow prison rules; and
  3. to identify the need to increase inmates security level because of misconduct and resultant disciplinary action.

In this Discussion Board, let’s discuss whether or not you think that inmates assigned to maximum security prisons have no further use for classification by administrators.  As a reminder, maximum security prisons are grades of high security level used by prison systems which offer an enhanced level of security to prevent prisoners from escaping and from doing harm to other inmates or guards.  Do you agree or disagree that inmates have no further use for classification by prison officials?  Give reasons for your decision.

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