Last Updated 06 Jul 2020

Prison Classification

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Inmates first experience usually occurs in a classification or reception center, where they are given a battery of psychological and intelligence tests and are evaluated on the basis of their background, offense history, personality, and treatment needs. Some states have instituted rigorous classification instruments designed to maximize the effectiveness of placements, thereby cutting down on the cost of incarceration. Prison classification is a method of assessing inmate risks that balances the security needs of the institution with treatment needs the individual.

Effective classification can reduce prison infractions and create a safer environment of both inmates and staff. External classification places an inmate at a custody level that will determine where he or she will be housed, internal classification determines the cell or housing unit, as well as the facility programs to which the prisoner will be assigned. External classification systems are now being used in all Federal and state prison systems in the United States. Internal classification systems focus on those decisions that are made for the incoming prison population.

Georgia Department of Corrections has a special prison called Jackson diagnostic center. Georgia Diagnostic and classification prison is a Georgia Department of Corrections prison for men in unincorporated Butts County, Georgia, near Jackson. The prison holds the state execution chamber. The prison, the largest in the state, consists of eight cell blocks containing both double-bunked and single-bunked cells. The prison conducts diagnostic processing for the state correctional system, houses male offenders under death sentence, and carries out state ordered executions by lethal injection.

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The prison complex also contains a special management unit that houses some of the most aggressive and dangerous prisoners in the correctional system. The Georgia Diagnostic and classification prison serves as a central hub where sentenced felons begin the process of being admitted into the Georgia state correctional system. Many county jails are paid by the state to house the sentenced felons until space becomes available in the prison system. Based on published research statistics by the Georgia Department of Corrections, inmates who are being diagnosed and classified undergo a battery of tests and diagnostic questionnaires.

Tests and diagnostic notions include: the culture fair IQtest; Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) (reading, math and spelling); scope of substance abuse (summary, detailed report); latest mental health treatment; PULHESDWIT medical scale; criminality, alcoholism, and/or drug abuse in immediate family; one or both parents absent during childhood; manipulative or assaultive tendency diagnostics; and criminal report with prior incarcerations and a full account of all previous and current offenses.

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