This discussion explores a scenario of when to utilize Special Housing Units for inmates.
Review the scenario and then answer the discussion questions below:
Inmates may be placed in administrative detention (AD) if determined there is a risk to their safety if they remain in general population. The difficult decision is when to lock up inmates, or place them in the SHU, when there is no definite evidence that they are at risk. The following situation is not uncommon.
In the Module 4 Discussion area address these questions:
Scenario: An inmate comes into the captain’s office and tells the officer in charge that he is being pressured to have his wife bring drugs into the prison by a group of inmates. He thinks the inmates are in a gang. He says they told him if he doesn’t do it, he will be killed. He will not identify the inmates, because he is afraid that if he does, their fellow gang members will kill him. He won’t give any more or any specific information, saying that anything he says that can be traced back to him and result in the other inmates being locked up for investigation will also result in his being killed.
None of the security staff have had previous encounters with this inmate, can vouch for his credibility, or have any information to support his story. His case manager, when contacted, says the inmate had been seeking a transfer to a prison closer to his home where his wife lives. The case manager told the inmate that that prison was very overcrowded and that there was a moratorium on transfers for twelve months.
You could decide to place him in AD to separate him from the threatening inmates or transfer him to another prison. However, two problems can result. First, inmates sometimes create a story like this to get a transfer. They know that if they are at risk, they can expect to be moved to another prison, so they can manipulate the system. Second, just transferring the inmate does nothing to deal with a gang that is pressuring inmates to bring in drugs, and they will just try another inmate if this doesn’t work out. So, most prison officials will push the inmate to give more specific information to act on the allegation; but do not want him to be in danger, even if he won’t provide any details.
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