An argument in favor of punitive classification

Offenders considered to be in punitive custody will be required to show adaptive behavior in order receive any superfluous benefits that are not necessarily required in incarceration


As articulated in the previous article, in order for Class I facilities to truly be effective, Class II facilities must serve as a punitive, far more restrictive countermeasure. Class II facilities will house violent offenders, offenders with unmanageable mental health needs and/or psychosis, and habitual offenders. Class II will be designated for offenders who meet the following criterion:

1.    Been convicted (felony) for a) a violent crime, b) a non-violent crime > 3 for lifetime, and/or c) a violent crime < 10 years from current offense.
2.    Self-reported and/or been confirmed as a member of a STG
3.    Been diagnosed with active psychosis (and that psychosis is not being actively managed).
4.    Received substantial (>3) institutional misconduct reports at local jails and/or state facilities for violence/aggression (predatorial behavior). During prior incarceration and/or while in county facility.
5.    Received institutional sanctions/misconduct reports for substantial (>3) PREA violations. During prior incarceration and/or while in county facility.
6.    Class II offenders are not eligible for good-time. These offenders must transition to Class I in order to reap the potential reward of good-time. 

These types of facilities will be designed with the intent of having all inmates eventually level down to Class I. However, accepting the grim reality of the penal system, it can be promulgated that there will be an extraordinary amount of offenders who, for whatever reason, will never comply with the system nor modify any of their respective behaviors. In response, Class II facilities will have an inner-classification system as follows:

1.    Class A: Dorm-like setting for inmates that fit the criterion of habitual, non-violent convictions or that have leveled down due to a substantial record of good conduct and class/job-skill participation
2.    Class B: Cell-block setting in which inmates will only have designated periods of recreation and time out of the cell for scheduled activities
3.    Class C: Traditional maximum security housing unit in which inmates will be on 23/1 lock-down. 
4.    Mental health will have a separate, segmented wing meant for offenders with active and/or hard to manage psychosis. 
5.    Solitary confinement will be housing for those offenders that are so dangerous, violent, and/or disruptive that no other housing alternative is conductive. 

Class II facilities will be punitive by way of restricted visitation, commissary, and commodities. Offenders that are classified in B or beyond will be considered punitive custody and will be required to show adaptive behavior in order receive any superfluous benefits that are not necessarily required in incarceration. 

This principle of the class system is based on B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning. By making behavior be controlled through both positive and negative consequences, we can hopefully regulate adaptive coping skills and discourage negative actions (Mazur, 2002). Offenders will receive positive consequences for desired behavior and negative consequences for undesirable behavior. Class II facilities, although far more punitive, will implement operant conditioning amongst the internal classification system. 

The premise behind this structure is simple: offenders will only change their perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors when they are ready to undertake that task. Offenders need to want to change and display that want prior to any sentence being reduced. Class I facilities are still prisons and the offenders within these facilities must still be held accountable for their convictions. 

Federal regulations, ACA, and other entities have an exhaustive list of standards and/or laws that regulate correctional facilities. A restructuring of good-time and classification would surely oppose these entities. These ideals are not intended to be a cure or an act of legislature that is to be initiated tomorrow. This restructuring is a concept made to be expanded upon in order to change policies in the future. Policy implications are all initiated by ideas that are put to paper. 

Works Cited
Mazur, J. E. (2002). Learning and behavior . Prentice Hall/Pearson Education.

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