The NIC Information Center is proud to serve as the leader in corrections-related resources for staff at all levels of federal, state, local, and tribal corrections agencies. In our collection, you will find guides and best practices, surveys, and streaming videos of nearly any topic you will face in your agency. If you feel that our collection is missing a topic area or if you have questions about a publication or research you are doing, please reach out to our helpdesk through the form below.
NIC Library and Information Center
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NIC's eBook Collection
Starting in 2019, NIC recognized the need to lean into the freedom that eBooks have created for readers. An eBook doesn't need to be printed and it can be taken with you on devices you already have. To meet the needs of our users, we partnered with Overdrive.com and the Libby App to make our expanded collection available to you. We've even stocked it with many popular books that aren't our website. It's all free, so try it out.
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US Corrections Statistics
Each year, corrections statistics from across the industry are collected from local jails to state prisons. NIC reviews the data and provides some insight into what happened.
Ask NIC your questions
Frequently Asked Questions
about NIC's Information Center
How do I rent eBooks through NIC's digital library?Published:
NIC has been building out a library of our publications. You can install the free Libby app to borrow and enjoy digital titles from our library on your tablet or smart phone. Visit your device’s app store or app.overdrive.com to get started. OverDrive is also available via all web browsers on devices, including computers (Windows and Mac).
Find and save our library’s OverDrive collection in the app. If accessing our collection via a web browser, visit our digital collection URL: https://nic.overdrive.com
Browse the collections or search for your next great read. Borrow or place a hold on a title. You’ll need an account on the NIC website to complete this step.
Borrowed titles will appear on your Loans page on the library’s OverDrive website.
From here, you can:
- Download titles to the Bookshelf in the Libby app to read anytime anywhere.
- Read or Listen to some titles directly in your web browser without downloading.
- Borrowed titles will automatically return at the end of the lending period.
- You may also return titles early to free up space in your library account.
When will my order of NIC products be delivered to me?Published:
In most cases, material is sent via US Postal mail and you should see it within 7-10 days. International and priority shipments will vary in shipping time. Items on backorder will be shipped as they become available.
Note: With our migration to a primarily digital catalogue, we have removed the Add to Cart button for any product that has been converted to a digital form (PDF, streaming audio or video). Only products that have not yet been converted are available for order. You can order physical NIC products by creating an account on our website and placing items in your cart.
How long will it take to get an answer from the NIC Helpdesk?Published:
Most questions are answered within one business day, but we work hard to make sure that we answer all questions within 5 business days or less.
How much does it cost to send me copies of materials from the library?Published:
There is no charge for having the NIC Information Center provide these materials, but there are some limitations on the quantity of hard copy materials that individuals or agencies can request at a single time. Our staff can provide specific information for you if you have questions about this policy.
If I can't get to NIC's physical library in Aurora, Colorado; how can I read materials the research experts recommend?Published:
In many cases, copies of the material can be sent or loaned to you. In other cases, we can send you copies of relevant portions of materials.
Am I eligible to received research assistance?Published:
The NIC Information Center is a resource for those working in the field of corrections, and the assistance it provides (searching the library, locating resources, and providing referrals) is available at no cost.
The Information Center is not staffed to provide legal advice, directly assist offenders/ex-offenders, or friends and family of offenders. Only limited support is available for students, educators, and consultants.
NIC's Hot Topics
NIC has answered the most common questions in our Helpdesk
Criminal Justice Reports and Evaluations
The following is a collection of reports, evaluations, research, and studies conducted on a number of different institutions across the country.
Does NIC have information on crisis intervention teams (CIT)?
With the closure of state hospitals beginning in the 1970’s and the shrinking resources in many communities, there is a large and disproportionate number of seriously mentally ill individuals under correctional custody and supervision. Researchers document a serious mental illness in 15% of incarcerated men and 31% of incarcerated women, rates in excess of three to six times those found in the general population.
The magnitude of the problem of untreated mental illness is revealed not only in the numbers, but also in the consequences. These individuals are more likely to experience suicide, victimization, violence, and unpredictable crises.
Typically, when a correctional and detention center is faced with a crisis, the first reaction is to call upon SORT/CERT, or its equivalent, for a swift response and resolution. Correctional and detention leaders, community members and mental health advocates all agree upon the premise that first responders’ swift response is a necessary component to facility safety and security. Disparity occurs and criticism arises when there are unfortunate consequences to the response such as inmate injury, staff injury and/or property damage.
CIT training is the bridge to narrowing the gap by providing front line staff with the needed skills and competencies to handle potentially dangerous individuals experiencing crisis situations. Additionally, it provides training for officers regarding behavioral health issues and educating community members about the role and needs of correctional and detention staff so both sides are more able to effectively utilize each other to benefit inmates and their families.
The History of CIT
CIT for Law Enforcement began in Memphis, TN in the late 1980s after a tragedy involving a person with serious mental illness. The community came together with the Police Director and the Mayor of Memphis to find a more effective way for officers to respond to persons with mental illness in crisis. The partnerships that helped create CIT included the Police Department, Memphis University, The University of Tennessee Regional Medical Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Lakeside Hospital, other mental health centers, National Alliance on Mental Illness, family members and other advocates. This model takes a team approach and engages community stakeholders, including corrections agencies, local mental health agencies, family advocacy groups and others, in a collaborative and responsive effort to manage and support justice involved persons with mental illness.
In 2010, The National Institute of Corrections realized that there was an opportunity to formally introduce the CIT Law Enforcement Model to corrections and detention agencies. The CIT Program for Corrections and Detention applies to jails, prisons and community agencies alike. It focuses on building an agency’s capacity to implement a locally owned and administered CIT program and the training for that program.
From December 2010 to March 2014, NIC implemented Phase I of its CIT Program for Corrections and Detentions. During this time staff, representing 19 jail systems, 20 state departments of corrections, and one team from U.S. Probation and Parole, was trained in the tenets of CIT. These three-person teams (mental health advocate, operations executive, behavioral health clinician) were encouraged to take the information learned at the National Corrections Academy in Aurora, Colorado back to their respective agencies to strategically plan the implementation of a locally-owned CIT program. In June 2014, NIC implemented Phase II(also referred to as a Partnership Training Program) of its CIT initiative. This 40-hour classroom based CIT program is held at a host state department of correction or jail.
Implementing CIT with NIC
The Partnership Training Program involves a simultaneous meeting and training schedule whereby the host agency’s Executive Steering Committee for CIT is briefed on the tenets of CIT, how to replicate and sustain the CIT Program while staff receives the 40-hour CIT classroom-based instruction.
In preparation for the training, NIC will conduct a site visit and tour of the facility and the training location with agency command staff.
How do I view/access videos on NIC's Data DVDs?
NIC provides some if it's popular video series and resources packages on Data DVDs. A Data DVD is really just like a bigger CD as it designed to be used like a storage drive on a computer instead of playing from a video player. These discs contain a web-like menu that you can launch to access all the files and videos on the disc but you can also get to all of the files but browsing to them directly on the disc.
For Windows computers:
- Open "My Computer" or "Explorer"
- Open the "_root" or "_docs" folder
- All of the resources and videos for the package will be in this folder
- You can copy/paste them to and from other computers just like any other kind of file.
All videos are stored in Flash (FLV) format which will require a video play capable of playing them--something like VLC Viewer. For you technical folks, the underlying video format is MP4/h.264 and MP3 audio.
Is your training legally defensible?
What is the definition of training? How do I know if my agency is delivering defensible training?
Training Defined: A formal exchange of job-related knowledge and/or skills from someone having it to someone needing it where something is acquired and applied resulting in something of value for the agency. If that exchange is properly planned, implemented anddocumented as training it can be defensible training.
Defensible Training: When all of the following 6 elements are clearly documented you have defensible training.
- It is based upon specific objectives. Performance objectives (intent) and lesson plan or the functional equivalent (content).
- It must be job-related. Statement of direct relevancy to the job (based upon problem analysis or performance analysisin the case of an existing employee or job task analysis for a new employee).
- It must be from an appropriate source. Name of trainer with evidence of credentials, expertise, preparation, or proficiency.
- It must be of sufficient duration -- hours. How long did it actually take to learn? Must be reasonably related to the complexity/importance of the topic (can include actual time spent learning, processing/practicing, and being tested).
- Where something relevant is learned -- quality. Individual Assessment of Trainee(What the trainee learned? Was it applied? Did the agency see a benefit?)
- and, Appropriate staff were in attendance. Attendance documented with roster of names and titles/positions of staff who perform tasks or share problems.
Credit for NIC Programs
I have taken several of the NIC online courses. To your knowledge are there any colleges that give college credit for any of the online courses that you provide? Thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide.
Continuing Education Units are discussed in the NIC Guide to Coordinating Live Satellite/Internet Broadcasts, revised 2016. Currently only live broadcast training programs earns units. Self study courses completed through the NIC Learning Center or DVDs or CDs obtained from the NIC Information Center do not qualify for CEUs. If you would like further clarification of NIC's policy regarding CEUs a contact and phone number is listed in the guide.
Do you have examples of operational procedures for segregation units?
Many corrections systems isolate certain prisoners from the general prison population; a practice known as special management confinement or segregation. The use of isolation and segregation has increased over the years, in part as a response to the rise in prison gangs and prison violence. Depending on the system, these units are identified as restricted housing (preferred), special housing, maximum control, extended control, supermax, disciplinary housing, secured housing, close custody, administrative segregation, intensive management, and administrative maximum penitentiary or unit. The following is a list of documents, guidelines, articles, and studies that examine how restricted housing units function.
How Can I Find Your National Directory of Programs for Women with Criminal Justice Involvement?
The NIC's National Directory of Programs for Women with Criminal Justice Involvement is on our website. Programs related to women involved with the criminal justice system are displayed by state. Information given (if provided) for each program listed are program description, agency information, program contact, related programs, who is helped, and additional information (i.e., stages of criminal justice, areas of service, keywords, program evaluation, and published curriculum availability.)
Learn more about NIC's services and resources dealing with women offenders on the Women Offenders Project page.
What is the appropriate temperature for jail/prison housing units?
We get periodic complaints from inmates about the temperature in their cells. Sometimes we do issue extra blankets but need to watch for hoarding. Is there an ideal temperature setting for institutional housing units?
There are recommended ranges of temperature (often called comfort zones) which can vary by season. The problem is there is an objective component but also a subjective component (not everybody "feels" temperature or comfort the same). Since heating and cooling systems in institutions are complex, try to achieve a "happy medium" within the recommended ranges.
This issue is not as simple as temperature. Thermal comfort is a combination of temperature, humidity, activity levels, metabolic rate, clothing, season, etc. It gets really complex. To appreciate how complex calculating thermal comfort is, look at the factors needed for this Thermal Comfort Tool online calculator.
The American Correctional Association standards, which are voluntary unless you are undergoing accreditation with them, state:
"Temperature and humidity are mechanically raised or lowered to acceptable comfort levels." The previous version of that standard used to refer to "acceptable summer and winter comfort zones."
The general standard concerning building comfort levels is ASHRAE 55 Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy. (2010). Builders and maintenance folks tend to conform to ASHRAE 55 standards in terms of building thermal comfort. They are not mandatory unless they have been adopted as part of a jurisdiction's building code or environment climate codes.
A given temperature will not meet the needs of everybody in the same environment. While not a jail or prison but an office environment, this article The Thermal Comfort Zone concludes that it may not be possible to provide thermal conditions that please all occupants all the time (but that hasn't stopped facilities managers from trying):
"ASHRAE indicates thermal comfort is achieved when environmental conditions satisfy 80 percent of office occupants suggests just how difficult it is to please all occupants even some of the time."
Bottom line: consider this in your decision making
- How many inmates are requesting extra blankets? If it is just a few, you are probably within norms, but might want to honor those requests. Everybody feels temperature differently, so those requests can be legitimate. So unless there is a hoarding issue, or it has become a "game", perhaps second blankets are easier than inmate grievances, litigation, and behavior issues.
- Keep in mind some differences: 70 degrees with low humidity might feel cool to an inactive population while staff who are moving around feel just fine. So anything in a range of 69-76 degrees could be acceptable in terms of thermal comfort depending on levels of humidity (and factoring in ambient conditions in summer or winter).
- A good solution is to get your agency to request an assessment by a legitimate building services provider or institutional heating and cooling systems specialist to measure comfort levels in all housing units. It is important to document your efforts at providing an acceptable housing environment for the offenders.
Here is how a major jail system deals with issues around "abnormal temperature conditions" . It might give you some ideas for policy and procedure. It actually comes in collaboration their Department of Environment Health:
- What temperatures (indoor and outdoor) are considered outside the normal range and require notifications/actions?
The Department requires that tour commanders notify the warden and the assistant commissioner for environmental health of any temperatures that are below 68° F. in all are as and above 80° F. in medical, mental health, and air conditioned areas. The assistant commissioner for environmental health initiates two hour temperature monitoring, so that decisions can be made whether inmates need to be relocated. For temperatures below 68° F. maintenance is notified to repair the heating system. Inmates are provided with additional blankets, clothing if necessary, and hot beverages. Inmates are relocated if the heat will not be repaired in a reasonable number of hours and the temperature remains below 68° F., if maintenance determines that the heat cannot be repaired, or if the temperature is below 60° F. Again, this is at the discretion of the assistant commissioner for environmental health and security. At temperatures at or above 80° F., maintenance is notified to repair the air conditioning, ice is provided for the inmates, two fans are placed in the housing areas, and it is determined how many heat sensitive inmates are housed in the area. Heat sensitive inmates will be relocated if the temperatures reaches or exceeds 85° F., if the temperature remains above 80° F. for a period of time and maintenance is unable to resolve the issue within a reasonable amount of time, or if the air conditioning cannot be repaired that day. Any non-heat sensitive inmates will remain in the housing area.
- At what temperatures, both hot and cold, is outdoor recreation restricted?
At what high and low temperatures is it prohibited? Outdoor recreation is canceled at the discretion of the tour commander since it is voluntary and inmates may decide not to participate.
- How is the status of "heat risk inmate" conveyed by medical staff to correctional staff?
The medical staff submit a heat sensitive identification form to the clinic captain.
- What are the temperature thresholds for heat risk subjects?
In general, heat sensitive inmates are housed in air conditioned areas. The Department makes notification of high temperatures at 80° F. allowing time to correct the air conditioning deficiency before we would relocate the heat sensitive inmates at 85° F.
- What discretionary language, if any, is used to permit judgment calls with regard to allowing outdoor recreation?
Outdoor recreation is held at the discretion of the tour commander.
A collection of Green Corrections Resources from NIC
The NIC Green Corrections Initiative seeks to increase awareness among corrections professionals about environmental issues related to the practice of corrections and focus attention on the need to make correctional facilities more energy and resource efficient.
What information is available on adult and juvenile probation caseload size?
Probation Caseload Size: Adult
Probation Caseload Size: Juvenile