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Strategic Inmate Management (SIM)

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The most fundamental goal of every jail and prison is to maintain a safe and secure environment for staff, inmates, and visitors. Effectively managing inmate behavior is critical to this goal. The purpose of SIM is to promote safe and secure environments by employing the best practices of direct supervision and inmate behavior management applicable to all physical plant designs in both jails and prisons.

Direct Supervision began in the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 1973. In the early 1980s, NIC introduced podular direct-supervision to reduce the violence and vandalism prevalent in many local jails. Since then, NIC has provided a variety of assistance on direct supervision to jails, including training for administration, first-line supervisors, and housing unit officers. Recognizing that many of the principles and strategies of direct supervision are appropriate for linear and podular-indirect physical plants, NIC developed the Inmate Behavior Management (IBM) program incorporating the six elements of effective inmate management.

Over time, it became apparent there was a need for agencies to have a unified operating philosophy encompassing all physical plant designs while honoring the fundamental work of Direct Supervision and IBM.

Strategic Inmate Management (SIM) is defined as the intentional integration of the principles and strategies of Direct Supervision and the elements of Inmate Behavior Management as a unified operational philosophy. It is an evolution of the Direct Supervision and Inmate Behavior Management training and assistance NIC has previously offered.

With the SIM initiative, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) works with jurisdictions seeking to integrate a comprehensive approach to inmate management.

The goals of this initiative include:

  • Support correctional leaders and staff in fulfilling their role in providing safe and secure facilities
  • Demonstrate the importance of having a cohesive inmate management strategy to effectively manage inmate behavior
  • Assist correctional agencies in integrating SIM as an operational philosophy; ingraining SIM in the organizational culture
  • Build organizational capacity to sustain the integration of SIM throughout all levels of the organization

Foundation for SIM:

Direct Supervision

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 insuring there are clear sight lines into all areas of the housing units, and by incorporating design elements, fixtures, and furnishings that promote positive inmate behavior.

Inmate Behavior Management

Managing inmate behavior is the core function of jails. Historically, jails have emphasized the physical containment of inmates over actively supervising them and managing their behavior. This has resulted in problems commonly associated with jails, such as violence, vandalism, and unsanitary conditions. These problems create dangerous conditions for both staff and inmates and can be costly for taxpayers. To address this issue, the National Institute of Corrections developed training programs, technical assistance, and information to help jails better manage inmates.

Click here for more information on Technical Assistance