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Cost Savings in New Generation Jails: The Direct Supervision Approach

NCJ Number
W R Nelson
Date Published
8 pages
To resolve overcrowding in jails, many local governments are now considering 'new generation' jails with an innovative management method known as direct supervision.
In this approach, the officer is stationed inside the housing unit, which encourages direct interaction between staff and inmates to prevent negative inmate behavior. Inmates are grouped into living units of approximately 50 cells that can be efficiently managed by 1 officer. To identify potential cost savings of 'new generation' jails, the National Institute of Justice sent a questionnaire to 12 local jurisdictions. Nine of the jurisdictions were operating direct-supervision facilities. Administrators agreed that direct supervision inmate management results in improved staff attitudes, decreased staff tension, reduced use of sick leave, improved treatment of inmates by staff, decreased number of staff-inmate conflicts, improved institutional cleanliness and orderliness, and less employee misconduct and confrontations with management. Additional issues noted are staffing level, safe working environment, and construction costs. 15 references.