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Direct Supervision Jails

Security Camera

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.
Jails Division