Classification systems help minimize the potential for prison violence, escape, and institutional misconduct. During the past three decades, correctional system administrators and researchers worked assiduously to improve their approaches to classifying and housing incarcerated individuals according to their custody, work, and programming needs. These efforts have refined and validated the criteria for custody decisions, increased the reliability of custody decisions, reduced over-classification, enhanced assessment of institutional program needs, and reduced institutional violence.
This publication is an update to NIC's previous Objective Prison Classification (2004). The second edition includes updates to critical areas, including the classification of women in prison and evaluating current classification systems. Following a brief discussion defining the essential components of an effective classification system, the guide walks through the four phases of effective classification system development: mobilization, assessment, planning, and implementation. The guide concludes with a discussion of special topics and implications for the future.