|A Look at the “New-Generation” Jail|
|By Adrian Smith|
What is meant by describing a new generation jail? How does the new model of managing a jail system differ from the evolution time period of corrections? In this article we will take a look at some of the characteristics of the new generation jail and also look at the aspects of direct and indirect-supervision jails.
According to Siegel and Worrall (2010), to relieve overcrowding and improve effectiveness, a jail-building boom has been underway. Many of the new jails are using modern designs to improve effectiveness; these are referred to as new-generation jails. Traditional jails are constructed on what is referred to as the linear/intermittent surveillance model. Jails designed this way are rectangular, with corridors leading to either single-or multiple-occupancy cells arranged at right angles to the corridor. Correctional officers must patrol to see into cells or housing areas, and when they are in a position to observe one cell, they cannot observe others; unobserved inmates are essentially unsupervised.
In contrast, new-generation jails allow for continuous observation for inmates. There are two types: direct-supervision and indirect-supervision jails. Direct supervision jails contain a cluster of cells surrounding a living area or “pod”, which contains tables, chairs, and televisions. A correctional officer is stationed within the pod. The officer has visual observation of inmates and maintains the ability to relate to them on a personal level. Placing the officer in the pod increases the officer’s awareness of the behaviors and needs of the inmate. This results in a safer environment for both staff and inmates. Because interaction between inmates is constantly and closely monitored, dissension can be quickly detected before it escalates. During the day, inmates stay in the open area (dayroom) and typically are not permitted to go their rooms except with permission of the officer in charge. This aspect can vary from jail to jail.
The officer or civilian type employee controls the door lock to cells from the control panel. In case of trouble or if the officer leaves the station for an extended period of time , command of this panel can be switched to a panel at a remote location, known as central control. Again this can vary from jail to jail depending of your facilities standard operation procedures. The officer usually wears a device that permits immediate communication with central control in case of trouble, and the area is also covered by a video camera monitored by an officer in the central control room.
Indirect-supervision jails are similar construction; however, the correctional officer’s station is located inside a secure room. Microphones and speakers inside the living unit permit the officer to hear and communicate with inmates. Although these institutions have not yet undergone extensive evaluation, research shows that they may help reduce post release offending in some situations. However, some critics suggest new-generation jails have failed to live up to their promise because they lack important components, such as normalized living environment, in their facilities.
What’s your take on the new-generation jail system?
Corrections.com author, Adrian Smith, is a Classification Officer for Orange County Corrections in Orlando, Fl. He holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Upper Iowa University and a Masters of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Everest University. He is currently obtaining his Doctorial Degree in Public Safety Leadership from Capella University. Adrian is an adjunct instructor for Everest University Online Division in the Justice Studies Department. Adrian has been in Corrections for 6 years working for Florida’s Prison and Jail system. He can be reached at Adrian.Smith@ocfl.net
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