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.
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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.
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NIC has answered the most common questions in our Helpdesk
Where can I find an updated "Directory of Programs Serving Families of Adult Offenders"?
This directory was funded by the National Institute of Corrections and first published in 1985. NIC continued to publish the directory until 2005. It is now available for download on the website of the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated at Family & Corrections Network.
This revised directory lists programs in the United States and around the world that offer services specifically for children and families of the incarcerated.NRCCFI is the oldest and largest organization in the U.S. focused on children and families of the incarcerated and programs that serve them.
Do you have information on the use of volunteers in prisons, jails, and the community?
This Knowledgebase focuses on the use of volunteers in criminal justice settings. Volunteers can and do provide a variety of services within state and local correctional systems. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Providing special instruction in a particular area such as tutoring and conducting classes.
- Assisting staff in daily office activities to free them for more direct work with inmates.
- Organizing or officiating games during recreation and sports related activities.
- Providing assistance to facility's library by collecting books.
- Serving as resource to advise inmates on various topics such as developing a budget or employment preparation.
- Assisting with religious related activities such as worship services or study of scriptures.
- Participating with an organized group already active at facility such as Yokefellow Prison Ministry, Alcoholics Anonymous or Prison Fellowship.
- Providing or coordinating special entertainment events such as singing groups and plays.
- Assisting in locating suitable residence and/or employment plans for an inmate before release.
- Providing transportation to employment or for family to visit facility.
- Serving as a role model by being a sponsor for an eligible inmate and escorting them to approved activities in the community.
- Serving as member of facility's Community Resource Council.
Coaching and Mentoring StaffCoaching of staff offers agencies a win-win method for developing their employees. It not only helps individuals reach their potential but also helps the agency improve its productivity and competitiveness. In a rapidly changing world, coaching can also help employees adjust and adapt their skill sets. Coaching is about encouraging, confronting, challenging, questioning, as well as consistently respecting and supporting staff in developing and achieving their goals (from NIC e-Learning course "Business Coaching: Getting Ready to Coach").
Coaching P&P New Staff
The following publications are copyrighted. You can purchase your own copy or borrow from your local library.
Do I need to have a law library in my jail?
I want to know if I need to have a law library in my jail. What kinds of issues should I consider? What information do I need?
Like so many issues in corrections, the answer is: it depends. The point is not necessarily having a law library, but rather providing reasonable access to legal materials and the courts.
Nothing below is a recommendation or opinion from NIC. What is provided is information and resources so you can make an informed decision concerning how inmates at your facility can have access to legal materials and the courts - which can include a law library in the jail itself.
If there are prevailing state jail standards or relevant case law in your jurisdiction, you will need to meet those concerning access to legal materials and access to courts. Absent that, you might want to consider the American Correctional Association (ACA) Adult Local Detention Standards as well ACA's Core Jail standards as a basis for your policies. Here are the two relevant standards:
ACA standard 4-ALDF-6A-03 (Accreditation standards)
"Inmates have access to a law library if there is not adequate free legal assistance to assist them with criminal, civil, and administrative legal matters. Inmates have access to legal materials to facilitate the preparation of documents"
ACA Standard 1-Core-6A-03 (Core Jail Standards)
"Inmates have access to legal materials"
You will want to consider what the courts have said. Take a look at the following:
"Jails and the Constitution: An Overview"
NIC publication authored by William Collins
Text from page 68:
"Over the years the Supreme Court decided several access to the courts cases involving inmates. The most important came in 1977, when the Court said that prison administrators have the affirmative duty to provide inmates with assistance or resources to allow them to meaningfully exercise their right of access to the courts, Bounds v. Smith. Assistance could take the form of persons trained in the law (such as lawyers, paralegals, or law students), adequate law libraries, or some combination of these. A 1996 Supreme Court decision dealing with access to the courts reaffirmed the core principle in Bounds, i.e., that the institution has an affirmative duty to provide some form of assistance (libraries or persons trained in the law) sufficient to give inmates the capability of filing non-frivolous lawsuits challenging their sentence or the conditions of their confinement, Lewis v. Casey."
"The principle from Bounds (and now Lewis) has been extended to jails, although application of the principle may be slightly different in the jail context depending in part on how long inmates remain in the jail. The longer an inmate remains in a jail, the more the right of “access to the courts” places the same demands on the jail as it does on the prison"
Document ID: 022570
Here are actual case law summaries:
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees state inmates the right to "adequate, effective, and meaningful" access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 822, 97 S.Ct. 1491, 1495, 52 L.Ed.2d 72 (1977); Green v. Johnson, 977 F.2d 1383, 1389 (10th Cir.1992). We impose "affirmative obligations" on the states to assure all inmates access to the courts and assistance in the preparation and filing of legal papers. Ramos v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559, 583 (10th Cir.1980), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 1041, 101 S.Ct. 1759, 68 L.Ed.2d 239 (1981). The Supreme Court instructs that states may satisfy this duty "by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828, 97 S.Ct. at 1498. Although this constitutional obligation does not require states to afford inmates unlimited access to a library, Twyman v. Crisp, 584 F.2d 352, 358 (10th Cir.1978), and there exists no rigid or static formula to assess whether a prison library's resources pass constitutional muster, Johnson v. Moore, 948 F.2d 517, 521 (9th Cir.1991), states must provide inmates with "a reasonably adequate opportunity" to present their legal claims.
In more understandable language:
"The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees state inmates the right to 'adequate, effective, and meaningful' access to the courts." Petrick v. Maynard, 11 F.3d 991, 994 (10th Cir.1993) (quoting Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 822 (1977)).
The guarantee of court access is satisfied "by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828.
Staff/Inmate Ratios in Correctional Facilities
The process for determining adequate staffing for a jail facility, and make it defensible, is to conduct a staffing analysis on a facility by facility basis. There are simply too many variables such as physical plant design, level of security, level of programs and activities, state and local standard and statutes, etc. to recommend a specific officer to inmate ratio.
Do Private Prisons Work?
A private facility or for-profit prison is a place in which individuals are physically confined or incarcerated by a third party that is contracted by a government agency.
What is a DACUM?
I've been hearing about DACUM in conjunction with training development. What the heck is a DACUM and how does it help me develop a lesson plan or training curriculum?
A DACUM is a form of job analysis. When developing a curriculum for correctional employees, one task is to assure that the topic and content is clearly job-relevant. In fact, job-relevancy is a component of legally defensible training in corrections.
DACUM, which stands for Developing a Curriculum, was pioneered at the Ohio State University Center on Education and Training for Employment. It is a means of researching and analyzing a particular job that results in a chart listing the duties, tasks, and related information about the job. That information can be applied in the development of a curriculum (and individual lesson plans) to assure and, in fact, document, that the content is directly relevant to what is required on the job. Given the failure to train liability and the risks inherent in corrections today, developing job-relevant training grounded in job analysis is not just a luxury but a necessity today.
While there can be some variations in the DACUM process, basically, a panel of incumbents in the job (usually those who perform it well) develop a list of all duties and tasks associated with the job based on consensus. The panel also develops a list of knowledge and skills, tools, equipment, etc. that are essential for success. This all becomes complied in a DACUM chart which is a roadmap for identifying relevant training topics. Often, since resources are limited and the DACUM chart can be quite extensive, the same panel or a panel of their supervisors (sometimes called a validation panel) will set priorities in terms of how frequently a task is performed and how critical it is to the mission. This can reduced the training burden to a more manageable level in a legitimate manner via the expert panel analysis.
Information on Staff-Inmate Boundaries and Inmate Manipulation
Recognizing and understanding inmate deception, inmate manipulation, inmate set-ups.
What are criminal thinking errors?
According to Don Andrews and James Bonta (The Psychology of Criminal Conduct, 2010), the following are risk factors contributing to an individual's criminal conduct.
- Antisocial/pro-criminal attitudes and values.
- Pro-criminal associates and isolation from others who are anti-criminal.
- Temperamental and personality factors, including pyschopathy, impulsivity, and other cognitive deficits.
- History of antisocial behavior.
- Familial factors that include criminality, family psychological and dysfunctional patterns.
- Low levels of personal education, vocational, or financial achievement and unstable employment.
- Lower-class origins (assessed by neighborhood conditions and parental achievements).
- Personal distress (strain, alienation, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, etc.).
- Other combinations of biological/neuropsychological indicators.