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Classification. Current Issues and Concerns. Issues Prompting Classification Assessments/Requests for Assistance. We have a high rate of subjective overrides of the scored custody level. How high is too high?

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Current Issues and Concerns

Issues prompting classification assessments requests for assistance

Issues Prompting Classification Assessments/Requests for Assistance

  • We have a high rate of subjective overrides of the scored custody level. How high is too high?

  • My classification system is outdated. It has not been updated since it was originally implemented.

  • How do we link custody, program needs, and institutional housing assignments?

  • Reclassifications – how frequently? Event or time-driven?

  • Are our criteria for classifying inmates to minimum security too restrictive?

Issues prompting classification assessments requests for assistance1

Issues Prompting Classification Assessments/Requests for Assistance

  • How do we strike a better balance between reintegration and public safety when identifying and supervising inmates for work assignments outside of minimum-security facilities?

  • Which is better a centralized versus decentralized classification process?

  • Is the classification system valid?

  • Should we create a gender-specific classification system?

  • Is the classification system reliable?

  • Does our classification system meet national and regional standards?

Classification system process problems observed

Classification System Process: Problems Observed

  • Reliability/Subjectivity:

    • Scoring relies on prisoner self-reported or incomplete information;

    • Categories within the risk factors are vague, leaving extensive leeway for interpretation by the scorer;

    • Lack of training; and/or

    • Outdated or No classification handbook for case management staff.

  • Discretionary Overrides -- Too many, Not enough, wrong reasons

Classification system process problems observed1

Classification System Process: Problems Observed

  • Mandatory Restrictors --

    • Too Many and/or Not clearly articulated

  • Numerous Redundant Assessments or Meetings.

  • Absence of Systematic Audit and Monitoring Processes.

  • Outdated – has not been updated for 15-20 years.

  • Not gender-specific, original system based on male population.

  • Classification process suggestions

    Classification Process: Suggestions

    • Own Your Classification System:

      • Review and Update P&P to reflect current/desired process; and

      • Articulate value and commitment to case management staff.

    • Reliability and Subjectivity – No Reliability = No Validity:

      • Conduct assessment of intra-rater reliability – Is your classification system facility/user specific?

      • Reliability study results direct training and rewrites of the classification manual.

      • Training:

        • Comprehensive training when roll out major changes;

          • Everyone needs to hear the same instruction and questions; &

        • On-going service – cross-facility to ensure all on the same page.

    Classification process suggestions1

    Classification Process: Suggestions

    • Audit Process – Annual review of accuracy of a random sample custody assessments. Assess:

      • Risk factor scoring;

      • Use of the mandatory restrictors and discretionary overrides;

      • Timeliness of the custody assessments; and

      • Documentation of deliberations and decisions.

    Classification process suggestions2

    Classification Process: Suggestions

    • Monitoring Process –

      • Periodic observation of the classification processes;

      • Statistical reports to track use of mandatory and discretionary overrides and custody distributions by assessment type by gender;

      • Log indicating custody assessments due/overdue by unit/CM;

      • Log of Time required from due date/admission to classification; and

      • Build Accuracy and Timeliness into case managers’ performance reviews.

    Classification process suggestions3

    Classification Process: Suggestions

    • Discretionary Overrides:

      • Rule of Thumb = 5 - 15 % of custody assessment

      • Acceptable reasons – Escape threat, Management Problem, Good behavior, Severity of Current or Prior Convictions

      • Unacceptable reasons – Overcrowding, Program need

    • Mandatory Restrictors: Reflect Policy, but whose?

      • Analyses of number inmates/restrictor and rates of misconduct

      • Symptoms of Excessive use of Mandatory Restrictors:

        • Empty minimum/community beds;

        • Inmates lack access to programs; and/or

        • Competition for low risk inmates.

    Analyses of overrides

    Analyses of Overrides


    Relationship between the custody assessments and the criminogenic needs assessment for programming and case planning

    • The LSI-R, Compas, results from other tests and evaluations are not incorporated in the classification/case management processes to determine where the prisoner should be placed to facilitate program participation.

      • Staff indicate that the LSI-R/Compas are useful for case planning, but map between needs, programs, and custody is convoluted.

    • Absence/outdated listing of programs and services/facility.

    • No program services table that links specific programs to specific need levels.

    • Programs are in the wrong locations.

    • Programs limited to specific custody levels.

    Custody vs program suggestions

    Custody vs Program: Suggestions

    • Generate an Accurate Program Listing:

      • Load into information system/server


      • Link programs to need categories/levels

      • Automate prioritization/wait lists.

      • Number of slots by facility by custody

      • Show and Tell among CM/facilities so all will be familiar

    • Generate Profiles of Inmate Population by Custody by Gender

      • Scored NOT Final Custody level

      • Program needs – based on a standardized assessment

      • Mandatory Restrictions

      • Priority for Program

      • Current location

    Custody vs program suggestions1

    Custody vs Program: Suggestions

    • Move/Duplicate Programs according to Inmate Profiles/Risk

    • Modify programs according to inmate needs/profiles:

      • Shorten the program for inmates at lower custody levels

      • Change the mode of delivery or time(s) of day provided

      • Programs location should be driven by inmate needs/risk rather than staff or contractor preference

    • Examine why inmates refuse/dropout:

      • Is one group dominating the program/assignment?

      • Staff conflicts/style

      • Prefer work/need $$

      • Good-time

      • Location

      • Housing


    My classification system is outdated. It has not been updated since it was originally developed/implemented.

    Is it Valid?


    Classification validation issues

    Classification Validation Issues


    Over-ride Rate > 15%

    Time - > 5 yrs

    Closing Facility(s)

    Offender Pop – STG, # Violent, Women


    Custody Levels Poorly Differentiated Rates of Misconducts


    Rates of Misconduct Among Male Inmates by Scored Reclassification Custody Level

    Other issues

    Other Issues

    • Prison Rate Elimination Act Compliance

      • Two Type of Assessments:

        • Sexual Predators/Aggressive

        • Vulnerable Inmates

      • Gender-Specific

      • Re-Assessment – not just at initial classification/intake

      • KISS – Keep it Simple**

      • Pilot Test for your Populations!!

      • Housing Unit Assignment Plans

    Helpful resources

    Helpful Resources


    Go blue for pbms


    Enter All Agency Characteristics,

    Enter All Facility Characteristics,

    Enter ALL Agency indicators, and

    Enter All Facility indicators.

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