“Direct Supervision” is a method of inmate management developed by the federal government in 1974 for pre-sentenced inmates in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This method has slowly been adopted by county jails since 1981. There are about 350 such facilities operating throughout the country.
The “Direct Supervision” method places a single deputy directly in a housing pod with a group of inmates generally ranging from 32 to 64 in number. A basic tenet of “Direct Supervision” is that we assume rational behavior and treat the inmates as adult human beings. The deputy provides supervision and leadership while the inmates are expected to follow direction and behave.
There is a low threshold for unacceptable behavior. Inmates who do not behave, in accordance with the rules, will be locked in 23 hours a day. On the other hand, inmates who behave and follow direction are given a high degree of freedom within the housing pod’s recreational area anytime during the day or evening. (The recreational area includes lounge seating, a television, passive recreational activities, educational programs, etc.).