The classification of prison security varies from one state to another. Most states classify the offenders depending on the risk they pose to the prison community. The classification is discussed below in a descending order.
- Super-duper maximum-security level. It houses about 1% of the total U.S. prison population. The unit houses the worst criminals who have shown high levels of threat of violence in other systems of incarceration. The prisoners stay in cuffs as they pose a danger to themselves too. The prisoners are housed in a self-contained cell.
- Super maximum-security level. This unit has higher population representing about 2% of the prison population. It houses the inmates who are on their way to the super-duper maximum-security level. During movement, these inmates are always in cuffs. The only difference is that this level allows more room for movements.
- Maximum-security level. The section houses a higher number of inmates most of them who are coming from the courts. It acts as the primary unit for an offender who has been sentenced. The repeat offenders, high violence, and other tough prisoners are housed in this unit. Inmates move freely within the prison confinement with no handcuffs. The maximum-security prisoners are usually assigned simple duties within the prison.
- Medium security level. This level has the highest population of inmates within the U.S. prison population. They consist of mid-range offenders who are both violent and non-violent but pose less escape risk. They are housed in dormitories thus maximizing the number of inmates who can be housed in this unit. The inmates go to school and participate in recreational programs together.
- Minimum-security level. The inmates who are in this section generally have good behavior and are non-violent. In addition, the inmates who are nearing their release are usually housed in this section. The inmates may work within the community where they earn money and come back to sleep in prison.
Matching Offender Classification with Security Classification
- Situational offenders. These are usually one-time offenders who possess ethical values. They pose less risk to the institution and form a stable workforce since they are well trained and they would be housed in a medium security level as they are nonviolent and have no risk of escaping.
- Repetitive offenders. They are individuals who have committed multiple crimes and have been held in different correction centers earlier. Most of these offenders are likely to be violent but pose less risk, and they are likely to be housed in a maximum-security level.
- Sexual offenders. Sexual related crimes are considered violent, and the perpetrators are likely to be placed in a maximum-security level due to the nature of their crime and the likelihood of being violent.
- Drug Abusers. These are individuals who have used chemical substances, which have led to disruption of the normal behavior thus leading to criminal activities. The individuals have higher tendencies of causing violence. Hence, they should be placed in a super-maximum-security
- Alcohol Abusers. Alcohol is addictive in nature, an individual may result in violation of the law and are very violent, and they are likely to be housed under in a maximum-security level to allow close monitoring.
- Mentally Disturbed individual are people whose crimes can be traced to their abnormal behavior, and they may pose risks to the prison community, thus are likely to be housed in a super-maximum-security
- Mentally handicapped offenders committed crimes unknowingly and do not have a conscience of their behavior and may pose a danger to the prison community. Hence, they may be put in a super-maximum-security
- Physically handicapped They are individuals who have a missing body part, and some are confined in wheelchairs. Most of them are usually aggressive, but they do not pose a high risk of escaping or harm thus they may be placed in a medium security level.
- Elderly offenders. The security level of these individuals depends on their behavior in prison, the nature of the crime, and the time served thus they may be placed in a medium or minimum security levels,
- Juvenile offenders. For those who may be sentenced in an adult prison most of them are generally violent in nature and may have group affiliation. Additionally, they have to go to school, and hence they should be held in a medium security level.
- Terminally ill and medically contagious inmates pose a health risk to everyone in prison. Therefore, for easy medical attention, they should be placed in a super-maximum-security level where they may not encounter the prison community.