U.S. Department of Justice

Direct Supervision Jails

Direct supervision combines two key elements—the physical design of a jail and an inmate management strategy—to significantly reduce the problem inmate behavior commonly seen in jails. Direct supervision jails focus on actively managing inmate behavior to produce a jail that is safe and secure for inmates, staff, and visitors.

Staff interact continuously with inmates in the housing units, actively supervising them to identify problems in their early stages. They use basic management techniques to prevent negative behavior and encourage positive behavior. Staff assume control of the jail and establish a professional supervisory relationship with inmates. There are no barriers separating staff and inmates in the housing units.

The physical design of the jail supports the management of inmate behavior by reducing physical barriers that impede staff/inmate interaction, by ensuring there are clear sightlines into all areas of the housing units, and by incorporating design elements, fixtures, and furnishings that promote positive inmate behavior.

Direct Supervision Assistance

NIC is currently revamping its technical assistance and training related to direct supervision jails. NIC will complete this work and will then offer a variety of services.

  • For jurisdictions that would like to consider building a direct supervision jail:
    • Site visits to operating direct supervision jails.
  • For jurisdictions preparing to open a direct supervision jail:
    • Revised training for line officers on how to run a direct supervision housing unit.
    • Training for frontline supervisors on their role in implementing and sustaining direct supervision over time.
    • Information for management staff on their role in implementing and sustaining direct supervision.
  • For jurisdictions currently operating a direct supervision jail:
    • Assistance in assessing and improving their implementation of direct supervision.

Recommended Reading

Date Title Type
2015
Document 030135
Jails in America: A Report on Podular Direct Supervision
National Institute of Corrections (NIC) (Washington, DC).
This video is an excellent introduction to the use of podular direct supervision. Topics discussed include: the three types of jails in the United States—linear intermittent surveillance, podular remote surveillance, and podular direct supervision; the eight key principles of direct supervision; seven key direct supervision strategies; the housing unit officer; and education and activities. "Podular direct supervision is a proven, viable, and economical alternative to more traditional methods." ... Read More

19 minutes
2010
Document 024192
Direct Supervision Jails: The Role of the Administrator
By Bogard, David; Hutchinson, Virginia A.; Persons, Vicci. National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC).
This guide provides jail administrators the necessary information they need to effectively perform their jobs. Chapters comprising this publication are: introduction; the jail administrator’s leadership role; recruiting, hiring, and promoting staff; training staff; supervising staff; determining the number of inmates one officer can supervise effectively; rotating housing unit staff assignments; ensuring that officers interact with inmates; addressing the isolation of the housing unit officer; d... Read More
PDF
84 p.
2009
Document 024056
How to Run a Direct Supervision Housing Unit: For Existing Direct Supervision Jails
  • [Lesson Plans, Slides & Participant Manual]
  • National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC).
    Developed for line staff of existing direct supervision jails, this training progam provides effective inmate management techniques that will enable participants to operate a direct supervision housing unit. This program contains the following modules:
    • Introduction;
    • Orientation to direct supervision;
    • Officer role in the unit–influencing behavior;
    • Direct supervision housing unit strategies;
    • Time management in the unit;
    • Managing inmate behavior;
    • Managing differences and di... Read More
    ZIP
    approximately 300 pages
    2004
    Document 020035
    Interpersonal Communications in the Correctional Setting: IPC
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC); National Juvenile Detention Association (Richard, KY).
    This basic communication skills training program, developed by Robert R. Carkhuff, has been used by correctional agencies for more than thirty-five years to train officers and counselors. Sessions contained in this course are: introduction to the IPC (interpersonal communication) model; the basics -- sizing up the situation; positioning; posturing; observing; listening; summary of the basics; the add-ons -- communicating to inmates; responding to inmates -- identifying content; responding to inm... Read More
    PDF
    2 computer disks; 1 DVD-ROM (100 min.) + 1 CD-ROM
    2005
    Document 020741
    Jails in America: A Report on Podular Direct Supervision, Version 3.0
    National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
    This video explains the strengths of podular/direct supervision. Subjects include:
    • The three types of jail design and inmate management (i.e., linear/intermittent surveillance, podular/remote supervision, and podular/direct supervision);
    • Benefits of direct supervision;
    • The eight key principles of direct supervision;
    • Inmate management strategies;
    • Booking;
    • Orientation;
    • Classification;
    • The day room;
    • The housing unit;
    • Disciplinary segregation housing;
    • And inmate ... Read More
    VIDEO
    1 DVD (26 min.)
    2011
    Document 024960
    National Jail Exchange
    National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC); USIS/Labat, Inc. (McLean, VA).
    The National Jail Exchange is the journal for the NIC Jails Division. The mission of the National Jail Exchange is to promote and provide a vehicle for the free and open exchange of ideas, information, and innovation among jails professionals. Our belief is that, collectively, professionals are likely to have developed successful strategies to meet challenges that arise. Jails professionals and the local governments, states, communities, staff, and inmates they serve and represent benefit greatl... Read More
    _blank
    1 page
    1993
    Document 015527
    Podular, Direct Supervision Jails: Information Packet
    National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
    Designed to give the reader an introduction to the concept, this collection of articles discusses the principles of podular, direct supervision and local detention's experience with it. Articles included are: "Direct Supervision of Correctional Institutions"; "Resolution -- Isolation of Staff from Inmates"; Special Focus On -- Comparison of Direct and Indirect Supervision Facilities"; and "New Generation Jails". ... Read More
    PDF
    57 p.
    2004
    Document 019640
    Self-Audit Instrument for Administrators of Direct Supervision Jails: Based on the Measurable Elements of Direct Supervision
    By O'Toole, Michael A.; Nelson, W. Raymond; Liebert, Dennis R.; Keller, Kristin D.. National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
    The "necessary information, instruction, and tools to conduct self-audits that will indicate how well the concepts and principles of direct supervision are being implemented" are provided (p. 1.1). Sections comprising this manual are: introduction; the annotated principles of direct supervision; table -- measurable elements of direct supervision; instruction sheets; administrator/management/supervisory questionnaire; officer questionnaire; inmate questionnaire; document review questionnaire and ... Read More
    PDF
    219 p.
    1996
    Document 013633
    Audits of Podular Direct-Supervision Jails
    By Farbstein, Jay; Liebert, Dennis; Sigurdson, Herbert. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    Three facilities varying in size and region were audited to measure the state of the art in podular direct-supervision jails, to test how well direct supervision is performing, and to point out its strengths and challenges. Staff and inmates in facilities in Minnesota, Florida, and Massachusetts were surveyed on issues such as safety and security, effective supervision of inmates, classification, staffing and training, and design and environment. Findings are presented in detail by facility.... Read More
    PDF
    64 p.

    Related Resources

    Date Title Type
    2015
    Document 030135
    Jails in America: A Report on Podular Direct Supervision
    National Institute of Corrections (NIC) (Washington, DC).
    This video is an excellent introduction to the use of podular direct supervision. Topics discussed include: the three types of jails in the United States—linear intermittent surveillance, podular remote surveillance, and podular direct supervision; the eight key principles of direct supervision; seven key direct supervision strategies; the housing unit officer; and education and activities. "Podular direct supervision is a proven, viable, and economical alternative to more traditional methods." ... Read More

    19 minutes
    2015
    Document 030010
    The Effect of Montana's 24/7 Sobriety Program on DUI Re-arrest Insights from a Natural Experiment with Limited Administrative Data
    By Midgette, Gregory; Kilmer, Beau. Rand Corp. (Santa Monica, CA).
    "Alcohol imposes significant social costs on the residents of Montana. The state has one of the highest alcohol-related traffic fatality rates in the nation, and alcohol accounts for more than one-eighth of deaths among working aged adults statewide. 24/7 Sobriety requires alcohol-involved offenders to abstain from alcohol and submit to frequent alcohol testing; those failing or missing a test face an immediate, but brief, jail term" (p. 1). This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the 24/7 Sob... Read More

    27 pages
    2010
    Document 024192
    Direct Supervision Jails: The Role of the Administrator
    By Bogard, David; Hutchinson, Virginia A.; Persons, Vicci. National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC).
    This guide provides jail administrators the necessary information they need to effectively perform their jobs. Chapters comprising this publication are: introduction; the jail administrator’s leadership role; recruiting, hiring, and promoting staff; training staff; supervising staff; determining the number of inmates one officer can supervise effectively; rotating housing unit staff assignments; ensuring that officers interact with inmates; addressing the isolation of the housing unit officer; d... Read More
    PDF
    84 p.
    2009
    Document 024056
    How to Run a Direct Supervision Housing Unit: For Existing Direct Supervision Jails
  • [Lesson Plans, Slides & Participant Manual]
  • National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC).
    Developed for line staff of existing direct supervision jails, this training progam provides effective inmate management techniques that will enable participants to operate a direct supervision housing unit. This program contains the following modules:
    • Introduction;
    • Orientation to direct supervision;
    • Officer role in the unit–influencing behavior;
    • Direct supervision housing unit strategies;
    • Time management in the unit;
    • Managing inmate behavior;
    • Managing differences and di... Read More
    ZIP
    approximately 300 pages
    2006
    Document 021968
    Direct Supervision Jails: 2006 Sourcebook
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). LIS, Inc. (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections Information Center (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
    A directory of facilities that utilize the direct supervision concept of jail design and management is provided. Organized by state, entries provide the following information: facility name, address, description and status, year opened, contact person, facility capacity, direct supervision pods, direct supervision beds, largest direct supervision pod size, maximum inmates per officer, direct supervision dormitories, non-direct pods, disciplinary or high-security beds, and notes. An appendix pro... Read More
    PDF
    204 p.
    2005
    Document 020741
    Jails in America: A Report on Podular Direct Supervision, Version 3.0
    National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
    This video explains the strengths of podular/direct supervision. Subjects include:
    • The three types of jail design and inmate management (i.e., linear/intermittent surveillance, podular/remote supervision, and podular/direct supervision);
    • Benefits of direct supervision;
    • The eight key principles of direct supervision;
    • Inmate management strategies;
    • Booking;
    • Orientation;
    • Classification;
    • The day room;
    • The housing unit;
    • Disciplinary segregation housing;
    • And inmate ... Read More
    VIDEO
    1 DVD (26 min.)
    2004
    Document 019640
    Self-Audit Instrument for Administrators of Direct Supervision Jails: Based on the Measurable Elements of Direct Supervision
    By O'Toole, Michael A.; Nelson, W. Raymond; Liebert, Dennis R.; Keller, Kristin D.. National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
    The "necessary information, instruction, and tools to conduct self-audits that will indicate how well the concepts and principles of direct supervision are being implemented" are provided (p. 1.1). Sections comprising this manual are: introduction; the annotated principles of direct supervision; table -- measurable elements of direct supervision; instruction sheets; administrator/management/supervisory questionnaire; officer questionnaire; inmate questionnaire; document review questionnaire and ... Read More
    PDF
    219 p.
    1996
    Document 013633
    Audits of Podular Direct-Supervision Jails
    By Farbstein, Jay; Liebert, Dennis; Sigurdson, Herbert. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    Three facilities varying in size and region were audited to measure the state of the art in podular direct-supervision jails, to test how well direct supervision is performing, and to point out its strengths and challenges. Staff and inmates in facilities in Minnesota, Florida, and Massachusetts were surveyed on issues such as safety and security, effective supervision of inmates, classification, staffing and training, and design and environment. Findings are presented in detail by facility.... Read More
    PDF
    64 p.
    1995
    Document 012722
    Podular Direct Supervision Jails: 1995 Directory
    National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO); LIS, Inc. (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections Information Center (Longmont, CO).
    This document was developed as a resource for those interested in the direct supervision concept of jail design and management. It will help readers locate direct supervision facilities that they may wish to study or contact, and provides basic information on the design, bedspace, and other aspects of the facilities listed. The three categories of jails covered are: podular direct supervision jails (both planned and operating), jails converted to direct supervision, and jails that have a combina... Read More
    PDF
    123 p.
    1993
    Document 015527
    Podular, Direct Supervision Jails: Information Packet
    National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
    Designed to give the reader an introduction to the concept, this collection of articles discusses the principles of podular, direct supervision and local detention's experience with it. Articles included are: "Direct Supervision of Correctional Institutions"; "Resolution -- Isolation of Staff from Inmates"; Special Focus On -- Comparison of Direct and Indirect Supervision Facilities"; and "New Generation Jails". ... Read More
    PDF
    57 p.
    1989
    Document 007807
    A Comparison of "Direct" and "Indirect" Supervision Correctional Facilities: Final Report
    By Wener, Richard E.; Barker, Greg. National Institute of Corrections. Prisons Division (Washington, DC). Jay Farbstein and Associates (San Luis Obispo, CA).
    "This report describes a study that attempts to quantify the differences between direct and indirect supervision and to specify the design implications of each mode so that jurisdictions faced with changing or expanding their correctional programs will have a more sound basis for choosing between them."--p.I.1-1. Includes bibliography and attachments to final report.... Read More
    PDF
    192 p.
    1989
    Document 007312
    Sifting the Gold from the Pebbles: Using Situational Interviews to Select Correctional Officers for New Generation Jails
    By Stohr-Gillmore, Mary K.; Stohr-Gillmore, Michael W.; Kistler, Nannette. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    "This paper examines whether a critical incident, behaviorally-based situational interview process, helps New Generation Jail managers identify the requisite talents in prospective officers."--p. 1. This paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in Washington D.C., April 1989. Includes bibliography.... Read More
    PDF
    32 p.

    Browse Library Topics

    Available Training Opportunities

    • Starts Aug. 01, 2016 - Direct Supervision T4T
      This training consists of two recently developed programs by the National Institute of Corrections’ Jails Division: • Making Direct Supervision Work: The Role of the Housing-Unit Officer • Making Direct Supervision Work: The Role of the First-Line Supervisor The programs are designed for agencies planning to move from a traditional jail into a new direct supervision jail. However, they also can be used to train new and veteran staff in direct supervision jails currently operating under the direct supervision philosophy.
    [+] feedback