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Southern New Hampshire University
CJ-210 The U.S. Correctional System
Module 4 Notes
Structure of Corrections Facilities
Corrections Today, Chapter 6
Types of Correctional Facilities
What Prisons Look Like
Corrections Today, Chapter 12
Living on Death Row
What are the differences between state prisons and federal prisons?
Proponents of private operators contend that they run prisons more effectively and at less cost
than public agencies. They claim they can do this because privatization:
Increases the capacity of prisons because private corporations can build prisons more
Responds with greater flexibility to correctional needs by cutting red tape.
Attracts employees who are younger and more enthusiastic than public employees.
Brings fresh ideas into the correctional system.
In contrast, critics of private prisons argue that private prisons cannot be compared to federal or
state prisons because they:
May build their facilities more quickly but too often the quality of the facilities leaves
much to be desired.
Have no lower and probably higher rates of recidivism.
Have higher rates of inmate misconduct.
Provide inferior services to inmates compared to federal and state facilities.
Offer inadequate compensation to staff, who at times barely make more than minimum
Pose ethical and moral issues that are yet to be resolved.
What are the security classifications for correctional institutions?
1. Minimum Security Prisons
Minimum security prisons have far more relaxed perimeter security, sometimes without
fences or any other of form of external security. Inmates usually have less than a year
before release when they are moved to minimum security. The inmates live in less-secure
dormitories, which are regularly patrolled by correctional officers. They have communal
showers, sinks, and toilets. The inmates work, go to school, and have vocational classes.
They get more freedom, so they are permitted to work outside jobs such as road crews
and exterior maintenance. These facilities have generous visitation policies with contact
visitation, sometimes even short home furloughs, and a safer environment for both staff
and inmates.
2. Medium-Security Prisons
Inmates who are placed in medium-security prisons may sleep in dormitories on bunk
beds, with lockers to store their possessions, or they may be double-bunked (two inmates
per cell). They are often out of their cells most of the day. Inmates are usually allowed to
work, take courses and get a GED, have visits, and use the yard. Medium-security prisons
typically have single or double fencing, guarded towers or closed-circuit television
monitoring, sally-port entrances, and zonal security systems to control inmate movement
within the institutions. In medium-security prisons, the emphasis is on controlled access
to programs. Prisoners assigned to medium custody can be locked down in emergencies,
but it is expected that they will participate in industrial and educational activities. The
rationale behind medium-security facilities is that a good deal of freedom and movement
and the availability of programs are allowed within a technologically secured perimeter.
3. Maximum-Security Prisons
Most maximum-security prisons are large physical plants. Maximum-security prisons are
sometimes divided into close security and maximum security. In close security, inmates
usually have one or two person cells that are observed from a remote-control station.
Each cell has its own toilet and sink. Inmates may leave their cells for work assignments
or programs and may otherwise be allowed in a common room in the cellblock or an
exercise yard. The fences are usually double fences with watchtowers housing armed
guards, sometimes with a third, lethal-current electric fence in the middle. Maximum-
security prisons also usually have two types of segregation: isolation and administrative
segregation. Isolation is punishment; the prisoner is sent for a specific number of days to
a solitary cell without contact with other inmates. Administrative segregation is just what
the term implies; a prisoner is removed from the main population because of behavior
considered dangerous to others. The removal may be for a specific or indefinite period of
time. In maximum-security prisons, all inmates usually have individual cells with sliding
doors controlled from a secure remote-control station. Inmates are often allowed out of
their cells one out of 24 hours. When out of their cells, inmates remain in the cellblock or
an exterior cage. Movement out of the pod is tightly restricted, with inmates in restraints
and escorted by correctional officers. The assumption that underlies maximum-security
prisons is that the physical characteristics of the prison will be such that complete control
of prisoners can be applied at any time.
4. Supermax Prisons
Supermax prisons are needed to control inmates whose behavior is so disruptive
that they are unmanageable when left in the general inmate population.
Some inmates are simply too dangerous for the average prison setting. Gang
leaders, disruptive inmates from other institutions, and inmates who incite riots
are those most likely to be placed in supermax facilities or units.
Administrators uniformly agree that supermax prisons improve system-wide
prison safety, order, and control, as well as contribute to many positive
unintended effects.
What architectural designs are used for today’s prisons? How do they relate to security
Radial Design
In prisons with a radial design, the corridors extend like spokes from a control center at the hub.
Telephone-Pole Design
The telephone-pole design, which has long central corridors, is more common for prisons built
during the 20
century. This design is most widely used for maximum-security prisons in the
U.S. The telephone-pole design makes it possible to house prisoners by classification levels. A
major disadvantage of this layout is that militant convicts can barricade a corridor.
Courtyard Design
The courtyard design is likely to be found in newer prisons and has housing units. They contain
small housing units with living rooms that reflect the expectation that inmates will behave like
human beings and also imply that they will be treated as such. The education, recreation, and
training areas are ample and roomy. Away from the courtyard are attractive apartments, each
containing a living room, kitchen, dining space, two bedrooms, and a bath.
Campus Design
The campus design is used for minimum-security and a few medium-security prisons, utilizes an
open design that allows some freedom of movement. Small housing units are scattered among
the educational, vocational, recreational, and dining units of the prison. Women’s prisons
frequently use the campus design.
Jurisdictions of Correctional Strategies
Corrections Today, Chapter 4
What is the continuum of intermediate sanctions?
Providing justice through a continuum of sanctions, ranging from being forced to pay a
small fine to being placed in a community correctional facility, is now a routine element
of corrections. The basic assumption behind intermediate sanctions is to escalate
punishments to fit the crime. Intermediate sanctions fall along a continuum ranging from
the least intrusive (fines and community service) to the most intrusive (house arrest,
electronic monitoring, placement in a residential community-based facility). It is also
possible to combine a variety of intermediate sanctions into a single sentence. Clients in
an intensive probation may also be assigned to house arrest and be placed on electronic
monitoring. Other offenders may be sentenced to a period of confinement, such as split
sentencing and shock probation.
Corrections Today, Chapter 10
What are the principles of parole?
The state extends to offenders a privilege by releasing them from prison before their full
sentence is served.
The state also enters a release contract with offenders in exchange for their promise to
abide by certain conditions.
Offenders who violate the law or the conditions of parole, can be returned to prison to
complete their sentences.
The state retains control of parolees until they are dismissed from parole.
What are the two types of parole?
Discretionary Parole is the decision to release inmates is made by a parole board.
Mandatory Parole Release is when the inmate is released on parole when the unserved
portion of the maximum prison term equals good time.
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