custody level | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction 

Custody level is a corrections term that indicates the extent of security measures that must be in place for an inmate of a particular classification, such as maximum-security, medium-security, and minimum-security.

Custody level is a term used in the corrections system to refer to the level of security measures that must be implemented for an inmate of a specific classification. The classification system is used to determine an inmate’s level of risk, and it is based on various factors such as the severity of the crime committed, the offender’s criminal history, and their behavior while in custody. The custody level assigned to an inmate indicates the level of security measures required for the inmate’s safety and that of the prison staff.

The classification system typically groups inmates into three levels of custody: maximum-security, medium-security, and minimum-security. The level of custody is determined based on several factors, including the inmate’s criminal history, their current offense, and any other factors that may affect their risk level. Inmates classified as maximum-security pose the highest risk to prison staff and other inmates and require the most stringent security measures. In contrast, minimum-security inmates pose the least risk and require the least restrictive security measures.

Maximum-security inmates are typically housed in a separate part of the prison that is designed to maximize security. The cells in maximum-security units are usually small and often feature solid steel doors with no windows. Inmates are typically kept in their cells for the majority of the day and are only allowed out for a limited period each day. They are closely monitored by prison staff, and any movement within the unit is carefully controlled.

Medium-security inmates are typically housed in a less restrictive environment than maximum-security inmates. They are still closely monitored, but they are usually allowed more freedom to move around the prison. Medium-security units typically have larger cells than maximum-security units, and inmates are often allowed to participate in educational and vocational programs.

Minimum-security inmates are typically housed in an open environment that allows for more freedom of movement. These inmates are often allowed to work outside the prison under close supervision and may be eligible for release on parole or work release. The cells in minimum-security units are usually less restrictive than those in maximum or medium-security units.

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Last Modified: 04/21/2023


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