In America, the constitution governs corrections as it provides the system for administration of the justice. The decision on which classification an offender would be subjected to would be accomplished through use of instruments such as the National Institution of Corrections which undertakes this process on admission of an inmate then six months to one year henceforth. As inmates join the prison system, they would be assessed at the reception or classification facility depending on their crime, escape risk, criminal history, behavioral risk and health needs, generally classified as needs and risks by Voorhis, Braswell, and Lester (140). According to Serin (5), the placement into a specific classification would be prioritized first with security needs, then space availability and finally the needs of the inmate. Women and children would be classified under facilities separate from those of adult males. Prisoners do not have any control over their classification though after serving for some time, they could request to be taken to facilities close to their families.
From the historic times, prisons were designated places to punish and simultaneously rehabilitate offenders, away from the community then later integrate them back to the community. With the expansion in the number of prisons in the US, the need to classify them has arisen. In the correctional system, classification refers to the placement of prisoners in a suitable custody from the various available ones so as to match the needs of the offender with the correctional resources. This classification system aims at differentiating prisoners based on their security risks thus predicting where to place them; be it minimum, medium or maximum custody (Voorhis, Braswell and Lester 140). Supermax correction facilities The initial idea was to combine maximum and medium security level prisons. Later, supermax prisons were developed with Alarid and Reichel (132) arguing on Alcatraz Prison being the maiden federal level prison under this classification, built to host most notorious gangsters. Today, these prisons at federal and state levels have diverse operations but have similar characteristics: inmates would be confined to windowless cells except for restrained showers thrice a week; they would eat within the cells; physical contact would be restrained; and they would be treated in the cells. As such, these prisons hold offenders considered as most dangerous and violent members of gangs who would pose a challenge and escape risk when held in lower security prisons. Supermax prison incarceration would cost about $50,000 per year compared to $25,000 for lower security prisons. The materials used to build these prisons make it two to three times more expensive to construct them. According to a research by Cullen and Gendreau (136), these prisons deter violence on staff and other prisoners and increase order and control. These facilities provide inmates with the opportunity for reflection to trigger behavioral change. But this classification of corrections has been criticized by Stohr, Walsh and Hemmens (117) as cause for mental instability among the offenders due to sensory deprivation. Maximum security prisons The next classification based on security has been identified by Voorhis, Braswell and Lester (136) as maximum security pr