Direct Supervision, New Standards and Standards

To fully understand the new phase in prison design check my reference, we must know more than the shift from the medical model to the justice model. We also need to understand three main influences on corrections in the second half of the 20th century:

1). After World War II the corrections industry moved towards a more managerial model. Personal gains, instead of patronage were not allowed. The emphasis was on accountability, competence and responsibility. Priority was placed on the selection of personnel and training, refinement of chain of command, specializations of accounting, medical planning, legal planning, maintenance and fiscal planning.

2). In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson created the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice to address national crime and make recommendations on how to improve functions of police and courts. The corrections report states that the key to effectiveness is to have enough qualified staff. The report called on dramatic improvements to be made in the selection, training and oversight of correctional personnel. The report advised offenders to utilize community programs instead of incarceration. The prisons could upgrade their educational programs and improve the prison industry, as well as expand graduated release and separate treatment for specific offender groups. This report is partly responsible for the creation of the first correctional standards. These standards were adopted by the American Correctional Association Commission on Accreditation.

3). During this time, prisoners successfully sued correctional institutions under federal law for violating their civil rights. They used both the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and habeas corpus. In response, more correctional institutions were forced to follow court orders.

Direct Supervision is the result of three interconnected threads: the evolution of the bureaucratic structure, the managerial role and the judicial involvement. Direct Supervision, a system that combines design and operational philosophy, as well as training for the staff, puts officers in direct contact with prisoners and keeps them in constant communication. They can learn about them, identify problems and take action before they escalate. As they are situated within direct supervision housing units the officers have greater responsibility in managing, supervising, and controlling daily operations. Direct Supervision has been credited by both inmates and officers with creating an environment that is less stressful and more positive, and reducing crime and violence.

Direct Supervision required not only a new approach to prison management but also a major change in the architecture of prisons. Local jails had traditionally been linear, with rectangular structures and one-cell cells arranged at right angles. The result was that the surveillance was inconsistent. By incorporating a central control area, the “Podular Remote” cellblock allowed officers to have greater control over their cells. As bars, walls, and windows divided them, the design of cellblocks created an atmosphere that pitted inmates against officers. Inmates experienced tension when officers entered “their” space. Direct Supervision allows for the removal of walls and places control stations within inmate areas. This allows inmates to spend more time together than in their cell. Inmates are aware that they are closely monitored. Officers can quickly resolve any problems and electronic monitoring offers additional protection to officers.

In 1981, the first jail under Direct Supervision opened in Contra Costa, California. The Federal Bureau of Prisons held a design competition between three New York City-based companies, Chicago and San Diego. Each company came up with similar designs which met BOP’s criteria for active and continuous inmate supervision. This model is widely used in America.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *