The daily experiences of normal inmates depend desperately on the formal and informal social organization of prisons. Some of the parts in formal organization of corrections that directly affect inmates include the classification process, the security level of prisons, confinement within the prison and special needs placement. When criminologists elaborate the informal organization among prisoners, they mention the existence of inmate subculture that affects them apart from the normal prison hierarchy and procedures.
In prison, there are departments that deal with different issues and more so, matters to do with correction strategies. The purpose of classification is to basically receive inmates into the custody of these departments, evaluate, asses and examine their needs. This involves risk assessment as well as risk assessment for inmates.
Risk assessment involves estimation of the threat that inmates expose to others or even to themselves. This in turn helps them to be put in proper institutional control levels, facilities and programs. High risk inmates are supervised closely because they have many needs. Low risk inmates require little attention because they require minimal control. Classification is therefore a very important feature of modern incarceration. This classification process has immense consequences for an inmate because it is the determinant of the level of security of the institution where they will be kept.
For serious criminal offences, and one is found guilty, the judge often requests a presentence report which assists the court in making a sentencing decision. The presentence report is constituted by the generally defined parts in the criminal code and specific policy as well as practice is left to provinces.
The presentence report therefore helps judges in giving analysis and advice on the offender treatment needs. Thus, policies and also procedures have to consider how best to convey relevant treatment of information in the presentence report.
The federal and state correctional systems include arrays of institutions that are very impressing. This is because of the different security level designs. Maximum security prisons operate as armed fortresses complete with steel gates and high walls. Some of these prisons are rich in technologies that contain a complex network of electronic surveillance that include metal detectors and motion detectors. Correctional officers carefully supervise and control every movement of inmates through scheduled and constant headcounts.
Inmates are classified and assigned to various custody levels. These include, close, medium, minimum, maximum and community. The levels are in the order of perceived public safety risks as well as risks presented by the inmate. Inmates in the close custody present the highest risk while inmates in the minimum custody generally present the least risk. This custody is determined using the Custody Assessment and Reclassification System. This system groups inmates according to their level of risk, as mentioned earlier. These are the risks they represent to the public, the staff, other inmates and the general facility itself.
Maximum security units comprise cells with sliding cell doors that are operated from control stations that are remote controlled. They are designated by the director of prisons at selected close security prisons. These units are reserved to confine the most dangerous inmates who are a severe threat to the general public. Inmates confined to this unit are usually in their cell twenty three hours a day. One hour is for shower and exercise in the cell block. Movement is restricted. Most of the inmates are under the sentence of death.
Minimum security prisons comprise non-secure dormitories which are patrolled by correctional officers. There is less supervision and control over inmates in the dormitories and also less supervision of inmate movement within the prison. These inmates pose the least risk to the public. They participate in community based work.
Imprisonment has several effects, some of which are extreme and clinically-diagnosable. However, there are broader and subtle psychological changes that occur in the routine course of adapting orison life. The most common agreement on the effects of incarceration is that most people have been in prison return with little or at times permanent, clinically-diagnosable psychological disorders as a result. This does not generalize prisons as making people crazy. We can all agree that the more harsh and dangerous the nature of confinement, the greater the number of people who will suffer the real damage they will incur. These effects can be summarized in the list below;
- Dependence on the institutional structure
- Interpersonal distrust and suspicion
- Emotional over-control and psychological distancing
- Social withdrawal and distancing
- Diminished sense of self worth and personal value
- Post-traumatic stress reactions to the pains of imprisonment.
In medium and maximum prisons, a more relaxed atmosphere exists. Violence is much less common in all of these facilities. Correctional facilities all the same are supposed to transform an individual in the most reasonable time possible.
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Cultures exist in these prisons and are very significant in behavior and personality transformation as a whole. As a result, sometimes inmates are forced to follow cultures that may not be very significant in their social lives. Prison cultures are prescribed and do not favor any party. They are enacted regardless of the religious, social or even economic background of an individual.
Research has been conducted to help understand the coping skills of female inmates. But to date, no research has examined the relationships between therapies for female inmates who have all sort of issues. These women are at times introduced to substances as well as drugs which later bring about coping issues. The separation from their families and children is the biggest challenge these women face. It later deprives them of the initial emotions towards real life. Therefore, depression and anxiety take effect and coping strategies have to be employed.
Comparing men and women in prison in terms of coping strategies brings out a clear cut between them. Realistically, women are affected more than men. This is through the psychological aspect of the two different groups. The separation from families and children is the most depressing above all.
As a correctional strategy, prisoners are subjected to hard but very productive work. They are taken to cultivate in prison gardens and also cleaning activities. As much as prisoners should be corrected, the amount of correction should be proportional to the extent of the crime committed. But it can always be agreed that correction should be very remarkable. Punishment is mostly used and is only effective when applied correctly. This involves the frequency of punishment, the immediacy of the same and also the punishment should be related to reinforcement.
Therefore the whole essence of prison classification is to find a way of corr3ecting inmates in the best way possible. Correction is therefore defined in the various custody levels in prison.