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By and large, classification of inmates is an important exercise of any prison system across the world. This paper looks at the purpose of classification in the prison system as well as how classification systems are used to place offenders. The discussion is centered on the State of Virginia.
Purpose of Classification in the Prison System
Similar to other states, classification of offenders in the prison systems is keenly observed in the State of Virginia. As pointed out by VDC (n.d.), classification is mainly carried out so as to ensure that offenders are placed in the right facilities based on the prevailing security concerns. To guarantee the effectiveness of the system, those in charge of managing prisons are expected to see to it that a number of key activities are undertaken. The said activities include determining possible release dates by means of time computation, having an elaborate system for retention and maintenance of important details about inmates, and constant assessment of the behavior displayed by prisoners.
During classification, it is often deemed important to appraise the security level of all inmates in order to determine the level of control and therapy needed. Often, this is informed by the type of offense committed, the duration of the sentence, and the behavior exhibited by the inmates (Alarid & Reichel, 2008). Obviously, this is meant to ensure that every suspected offender receives fair treatment.
According to CGL (n.d.), classification systems are very useful in curbing unwelcome incidences such as prison violence, escape, and misconduct. Effective classification is thus needed to create a safe operating environment in any prison across the world. In addition, an effective classification system also plays an important role in creating a forum where those who are responsible for prisons are able to work closely with courts and legal practitioners for the betterment of the state as well as offenders.
How Classification Systems are Used to Place Offenders
As earlier explained, classification systems are meant to help those taking care of prisons to direct offenders to appropriate facilities. As pointed out by CGL (n.d.), the classification process is quite elaborate and involves intake, examination, placement, and where necessary, reclassification. The classification system works as follows. The initial contact with the offender takes place immediately he or she is handed over to the State’s prison system from the jail. To ensure that nothing is overlooked, all receptions are examined, trailed, and properly programmed.
The next step is to make sure that every inmate gets assigned a state identification number or inmate number. An inmate’s information as far as sentencing is concerned is then passed on to the courts and legal practitioners. The sentence information is then used to determine the release dates. Usually, time is computed so as to establish the appropriate date of release for an offender. It may also help in assessing whether one is eligible for parole. However, before agreeing on the time, those in charge of the prisons must be issued with a court order from the court responsible for sentencing the offender.
Clearly, classification is very critical for any prison system. Among other things, it helps to create a safe, sound and efficient prison system where the security of all inmates is guaranteed. As discussed in this paper, it is imperative to have a reliable classification system that creates a healthy operating environment for inmates as well as those manning the prisons.
Alarid, L. F. & Reichel, P. L. (2008). Corrections: A Contemporary Introduction. Web.
CGL. (n.d.). Objective Prison Classification, The Cornerstone To Good Prison Security. Web.
Virginia Department of Corrections (VDC). (n.d). Inmate Intake and Classification. Web.