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 Lesson 4: Custody & Classification System 

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Michael Santos

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Few people think about how a prison’s custody and classification system operates. Why should they? Prior to the government bringing felony charges against an individual, it’s unlikely that he ever thought it possible that he would serve time in a prison. Since the concept of prison seemed so foreign to him, he never would have thought about a prison’s custody and classification systems.

Unfortunately, if an individual has been charged with a crime, he should educate himself on custody and classification systems in prison. Despite the valiant efforts of a defense attorney, a defendant who faces felony charges may find himself convicted. If so, he should know as much as possible about how the prison system’s custody and classification system operates. An individual can position himself to serve time in the best possible environment, but only if he understands all factors that influence how administrators will score him in the custody and classification system.

In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, administrators rely upon a sophisticated custody and classification system. By reviewing the Bureau of Prisons website, individuals can learn all about the policies that govern custody and classification procedures. Primarily, the Bureau of Prisons scores several different factors of a defendant when considering a total custody and classification. The more influential factors include a defendant’s criminal history, propensity for violence, and record of any escape. But there is much more to a custody and classification system in the Bureau of Prisons. To the extent that an individual understands the custody and classification system, the individual may be able to position himself to serve his sentence in the best prison possible. Further, the custody and classification system may influence when an individual can transition from white collar to a residential reentry center–otherwise known as a halfway house.

This lesson on custody and classification systems provides a primer for defendants. The more a defendant educates himself on custody and classification systems, they better he or she will be able to influence placement within the Bureau of Prisons in the event of a guilty verdict.

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