Consider Direct Supervision in Your Jail

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Consider Direct Supervision in Your Jail


Gordon Graham
Category: Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for my friends in corrections. 

The concept of direct supervision is really about modifying inmate behavior. It’s about staff being in control.

More specifically it’s for any of you who are considering a new jail. Or thinking about building onto an existing jail. Today I am asking you to consider a direct supervision jail. 

Modern direct supervision jails are nothing new. Theyve been around for almost 30 years now. But some people still don’t get the concept. Some people think that direct supervision is about a “hug-a-thug” or “day care” type of jail. Some think that “locking up” staff in the housing units with inmates sounds crazy. 

But it really works. Without an officer or deputy inside the housing unit, who is in charge? It tends to be the biggest or the baddest inmate. Or the ranking gang member. This sounds like problem lying in wait to me. 

The concept of direct supervision is really about modifying inmate behavior. It’s about staff being in control. It’s about holding inmates accountable. And it promotes overall fairness and consistency. It comes with some other positive aspects, too.  

Some studies have shown that 85 to 90 percent of inmates seldom cause problems. Only 10 to 15 percent are responsible for most of the problems. Traditional jails focus on the problem inmates. Direct supervision jails focus on the inmates who behave appropriately and follow the rules. 

Another benefit to Direct Supervision is the costIt’s much cheaper. Think about it. If jail staff are in control, the facility doesn’t have to be quite as hardened. Single or double cells are very expensive. Open bay dorms with bunks are cheaper. Stainless steel fixtures are expensive. Porcelain fixtures are not. The list goes on and on. 

So, if you’re planning a new jail. Or if you are thinking about adding on to your existing jail. Please consider direct supervision. The folks at the National Institute of Corrections have some great information about direct supervision and about modifying inmate behavior. Check them out at 

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

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