View Full Version : Classification (what does it entail?)

09-18-2004, 04:30 PM
:confused: Can anyone explain what being classified entails? Does an inmate's classification determine which SCI he will be sent to? If so, what classification types go to which prisons? I appreciate any info. Thanks.

09-19-2004, 08:57 AM
The PA Department of Corrections Website has the complete Handbook for Family and Friends of PA DOC Prisoners available. Go to and click on the Handbook located on the left side of the Home Page. The handbook is in pdf file format so you will need Adobe Reader to open, read and, if you want, print, the 63 page handbook. You can get this Reader for free [if you don't have this program in your computer already] by going to and click on "Reader"--the directions for downloading this program are quite easy to understand.
Anyway....Page 12-14 of the Handbook covers Intake process,Classification and Custody levels. Here is what it says, in part:
"...Many tests are performed before putting the inmate in population with other inmates. The initial medical screening...the staff also gives tests that tell if the inmate has a mental illness. The inmate takes IQ tests and tests that measure educational achievement...also take a test that tells if he/she have a problem w/drugs/alcohol and seriousness of problem." "The inmate is also interviewed by many other treatment and corrections staff to decide what treatment or education the inmate needs and how closely he/she needs to be supervised. Once the tests/interviews are completed, the inmate is assigned a custody level. This determines the amt. of security needed to manage the inmate."

[From this point forward, I am paraphrasing from the Handbook]
In addition, a Needs Assessment is completed which tells the prison staff what the inmate's needs are in treatment and education. To find out what needs the inmate has and to determine what custody level is right for the inmate, the PA Addictive Classification Tool [PACT[ is used. PACT asks a series of questions and each question's answer has a score that when added together give a total that tells what custody level is recommended for that person.
The inmate is assigned to custody level of 2, 3, or 4. 2=minimum security prison; 3=medium security 4=close security.
Custody 1 is only used for those going to Community Corrections. Custody 5 is used for those who need maximum security and are placed in the Restricted Housing Unit [RHU], Special Management Unit [SMU] or Long-Term Segregation Unit [LTSU]. If one nees to be in one of these custody levels, the correction counselor will request what is called a classification override.

When all this is completed, a Classification Summary is developed for use by the staff at the facility in working with the individual. The facility staff meet and decide which prison best meets the needs of the person. One factor considered is whether the person has enemies in the facilites who may wish to harm him/her so that the person can be kept safely away from them. Another factor that decides placement is where space is available at that time.

Custody level is reviewed with the person every year of their sentence. With good behavior and participation in programs one can be placed in a less restrictive classification level...length of one's sentence will also impact changes in classification level [for example, if someone is doing a 20 year sentence, good behavior and participation in programs would be evaluated over several years' time before the person is assigned to a less restrictive custody level].

Hope this helps to answer your questions....the Handbook is a useful resource but of course, NOT everything they include in this book is what REALLY happens!!! But it does give you some good basic info.

Feel free to ask questions here--usually someone in this forum can help out!!!