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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  • My classification system is outdated.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    • Outdated or No classification handbook for case management staff.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  • Outdated – has not been updated for 15-20 years.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.
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

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.