U.S. Department of Justice

Jail Administration

A wide variety of challenges are inherent in jail administration, and jail administrators need specific types of information and tools to manage their operations effectively. The National Institute of Corrections provides training, technical assistance, and information on the administration of jail functions.

Training programs and resource documents are available on the NIC website under Training.

Technical assistance is available on a wide range of jail administration topics to individual jails nationwide. It is also available to state agencies and organizations that work to improve the quality of jail administration or provide services to jails.

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Recommended Reading

Date Title Type
2009
Document 023494
A Guide to Preparing for and Responding to Jail Emergencies: Self-Audit Checklists, Resource Materials, Case Studies
By Schwartz, Jeffrey A.; Barry, Cynthia. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). LETRA, Inc. (Campbell, CA).
This guide “will be broadly useful to U.S. jails in planning for crises, emergencies, and natural disasters and in developing the appropriate response capacities to cope with these events where they cannot be prevented” (p. vi). Six sections are contained in this publication: introduction; conducting an audit; Emergency Preparedness Self-Audit Checklist for Smaller Jails; Emergency Preparedness Self-Audit Checklist for Larger Jails; resource materials—leadership issues during crises, prevention ... Read More
PDF
180 p.
2001
Document 016975
Alleviating Jail Crowding: A Systemic Approach [Videoconference Held April 18, 2001]
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
Since jail crowding is often called the most pressing problem facing criminal justice systems in the U.S., this 3-hour videoconference aims to help jurisdictions develop effective strategies and techniques for managing jail population levels. Issues discussed include:
  • The systemic problem of crowding and the need for effective system-wide policy
  • Decision points in the system that help control crowding
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Long and short term strategies to reduce j... Read More

1 DVD (180 min.)
2003
Document 018696
Beyond the Myths: The Jail in Your Community
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
This resource provides a foundation for the efforts of sheriffs and jail administrators to provide the public information about jails generally, their jails specifically, and the need for community interest in local jail issues. It can also be used to educate prospective jail employees about local detention.
Closed captions are only available in the DVD version.... Read More
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1 DVD (23 min.)
2002
Document 017626
Budget Guide for Jail Administrators - Part 1: Developing the Budget
By Martin, Mark D.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
Designed for jail administrators, this guide discusses the elements of an effective process for budgeting both capital and operational jail expenses. This document contains the following sections:
  • An effective budget process;
  • Cooperative effort within the budget process;
  • Budget preparation -- information and materials;
  • Jail budget development -- needs assessment, estimating budget expenditures, preparing the budget document, submitting the budget package, presenting the... Read More
PDF
41 p.
2002
Document 017628
Budget Guide for Jail Administrators - Part 2: Managing the Budget
By Martin, Mark D.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
Designed for jail administrators, this guide provides an overview of jail budget management, along with relevant responsibilities and strategies. Key aspects of jail budget management examined include:
  • Budget implementation -- developing and using a plan to monitor expenditures;
  • Budget management -- monitoring, managing, and controlling expenditures while garnering support;
  • Jail revenue monitoring and management -- developing revenue plans;
  • Performance monitoring -- es... Read More
PDF
29 p.
2002
Document 017627
Budget Guide for Jail Administrators - Part 3: Beyond Budget Allocation - Sources of Funding and Services
By Martin, Mark D.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
Designed for jail administrators, this guide describes strategies for identifying, securing, and coordinating jai resources from multiple sources, both internally and externally. Three sections comprise this document: (1) Jail resource types and potential sources -- generating revenue, using the services of other agencies, soliciting donations from the community, and how the jail and community are linked by a common goal; (2) Strategies for securing, coordinating, and managing jail resou... Read More
PDF
22 p.
1996
Document 013551
Developing/Revising Detention Facility Policies and Procedures
By Martin, Mark D.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
Assists local detention administrators in the development and/or revision of their policy and procedures manuals. Includes discussion of concepts such as direct supervision, objective jail classification, and other advances in correctional practice.... Read More
PDF
23 p.
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.
2007
Document 021826
How to Collect and Analyze Data: A Manual for Sheriffs and Jail Administrators
By Elias, Gail. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Voorhis Associates (Lafayette, CO); National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
Anyone who needs to gather and analyze data concerning various jail-related issues will find this manual useful. This document provides guidance on how information can fuel policy decision making. Chapters comprising this guide are: introduction; good management requires good information; information that should be collected; preparing for the data collection; how to locate and capture information; how to put it all together; how to analyze information; how to interpret information; sharing info... Read More
PDF
220 p.
2002
Document 017209
Jail Crowding: Understanding Jail Population Dynamics
By Cunniff, Mark A.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
Steps involved in developing an understanding of jail population dynamics and factors behind jail crowding are delineated. Sections of this report include: executive summary; how can factors behind jail crowding be identified?; key questions to ask in order to understand jail population dynamics; trends that are driving jail population growth; how to forecast future needs; benefits and elements of an effective analytic process; and elements of the analytic process. Appendixes include: "Preventin... Read More
PDF
49 p.
2002
Document 017372
Jail Resource Issues: What Every Funding Authority Needs to Know
By Bowker, Gary M.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
Basic information about jail operations is provided to contribute to a better understanding of the funding authority's roles and responsibilities regarding the jail. This report contains the following chapters: the jail as a primary function of local government; the purpose of the jail and its role in the local criminal justice system; the jail population; jail litigation and standards; key elements of effective jail operations; and funding authority roles and responsibilities. ... Read More
PDF
34 p.
2007
Document 022570
Jails and the Constitution: An Overview
By Collins, William C.. National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC).
This publication "reviews the history of correctional law and summarizes the results and effects of major court decisions" (p. 4). Sections comprising this document include: introduction; history of court involvement; corrections and the Constitution in a new century; the Constitution and the physical plant; understanding Section 1983 lawsuits; how courts evaluate claims -- the balancing test; the First Amendment; the Fourth Amendment; the Eighth Amendment -- overview; the 8th Amendment -- use ... Read More
PDF
93 p.
2008
Document 022666
Managing Risk in Jails
By Martin, Mark D.; Reiss, Claire Lee. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
"This manual will help jails both to understand risk and its implication for jails and to develop a formal, effective risk management program that uses all of the jail's basic resources (i.e., human, financial, property, partners, and reputation" (p. v). Chapters following an introduction are: understanding risk and its implications for jails; jail risk management issues and strategies; developing a risk management program; and organizational investments for managing risk. Appendixes provide re... Read More
PDF
91 p.
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
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1 page
2002
Document 016720
Preventing Jail Crowding: A Practical Guide
By Cushman, Robert C.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
An explanation on how to use the jail population analysis formula is offered. This paper looks at: the sources of jail crowding; the dynamics that create changes in jail occupancy levels; swings in jail occupancy levels; a jail population analysis system; reducing the inmate population in a crowded jail; policy choices; and the key to preventing crowding. ... Read More
PDF
12 p.
2004
Document 020030
Resource Guide for Jail Administrators
By Martin, Mark D.; Rosazza, Thomas A.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Longmont, CO).
A guide "developed to enhance the leadership skills, knowledge, and capabilities of jail administrators on issues of basic jail administration" is presented (p. v). Fourteen chapters comprise this guide: introduction; role, purpose, and characteristics of the jail; administration; facilities; staffing and scheduling; staff recruiting, selection, and retention; staff training; security, safety, and emergency preparedness; inmate behavior management; inmate discipline and grievance; special manag... Read More
PDF
305 p.
2007
Document 021925
Sheriff's Guide to Effective Jail Operations
By Martin, Mark D.; Katsampes, Paul. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
"This guide provides an overview of the sheriff's roles and responsibilities with regard to the jail along with basic information on critical aspects of jail operations and management" (p. v). This publication is comprised of the following seven chapters: role, purpose, and characteristics of the jail; sheriff's roles and responsibilities; providing effective leadership and support for the jail; liability and standards; jail physical plant; critical aspects of jail operations; and so much to le... Read More
PDF
54 p.
2001
Document 016827
Staffing Analysis Workbook for Jails
By Liebert, Dennis R.; Miller, Rod. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
An integrated series of steps that result in a comprehensive and innovative staffing plan is presented. The staffing analysis process involves: jail profiling; net annual work hours calculation; development of a facility activity schedule; staff coverage plan development; completion of a staff summary; schedule development; evaluation, revision, and improvement of the plan; operational costs calculation; report preparation; and implementation of the plan and monitoring of the results. Appendixes... Read More
PDF
43 p.

Available Training Opportunities

  • Starts Mar. 23, 2015 - Jail Administration
    Jail administrators have significant responsibility and liability in ensuring that jail operations are conducted safely, securely, legally, and humanely. This 36-hour program focuses on the basic skills and competencies jail administrators need to effectively meet this responsibility.
  • Available Online - Jail Data Analysis
    During this e-course, the learner will gain general familiarization with statistics and how to use them.
  • Available Online - Jail Data Collection
    This e-course will show how you can improve data collection and analysis at your correctional institution.
  • Available Online - Objective Jail Classification: Assessing Inmate Risk and Needs
    In this e-course, you will learn about objective classification, one of the most important management tools available to jail administrators.
  • Available Online - Objective Jail Classification: Assessing Inmate Risk and Needs
    In this e-course, you will learn about objective classification, one of the most important management tools available to jail administrators.
  • Available Online - Staffing Analysis for Jails
    Staff are the most costly and important resource in operating a jail. In many jails, staffing costs make up 70 to 80 percent of the annual budget. Without adequate staffing, jail security and the safety of staff, inmates, and the community are directly threatened and the possibility of costly litigation against the jail increases significantly.
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