Direct Supervision Jails: An Often Misunderstood Profession with a Unique Breed of Law Enforcement

Direct Supervision Jails: An Often Misunderstood Profession with a Unique Breed of Law Enforcement
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-03-31
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Direct Supervision Jails
Unit 2Transcript: Direct Supervision Jails
Unit 3Workbook: Direct Supervision Jails
Unit 4Recording: Direct Supervision Jails

Corrections is often seen as the tail end of the criminal justice process. In reality, correctional facilities and correction officers are responsible for more than just merely locking people up. Barbara Mattes leads this webinar and unpacks all the nitty-gritty involved in a direct supervision type of correction setting and how their work impacts the community.

Barbara has been with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department for the last two decades and is a Sergeant in its Department Corrections Bureau. She is certified by the Arizona Governor’s Office as an anti-human trafficking instructor and also serves as a firearms and general instructor for her department.

Specifics of this session include:

  • What direct supervision is, its benefits, and reports that highlight and support its effectiveness.
  • Differentiating prisons from jails and society from community.
  • The distinct characteristics of direct supervision jails that bolster its effectiveness.
  • Opportunities and resources for individuals in the correction system to set them up for success available in Pima County.
  • How jails influence the community’s perception of law enforcement and assist with mental health crises experienced by community members.
  • A brief overview of how the correction system became the community’s default mental health provider.
  • The mental health standards in which correction facilities and its staff operate in and the protocols and practices they participate in.
  • Use of force in the correction settings, the standards to determine use of force for non-sentenced detainees and sentenced inmates, and the case laws that served as precursor to these standards.
  • Laws specific to jails that relate to the correction officer’s duty to maintain safety and security of inmates and uphold the penological interest which may require the use of force.
  • The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) and how it limited the inmates’ grievance recourse, reduced the courts’ authority, and provided deference for correction professionals except in specific circumstances.
  • A rundown of the duties and characteristics expected out of direct supervision officers and those that are similar but at a slightly different level to those of law enforcement officers on the streets.
  • The level of professionalism required in a correction officer job and the dangers that lurk even in the most routinary tasks they perform.
  • Statistics demonstrating the risk of violence and fatalities that correction officers are exposed to as they perform their duties.
  • The mental health toll that direct supervision officers are subjected to as they interact with inmates and get to know them as people.
  • Security considerations the correction officers must always be wary of in their job.
  • Correction officers’ role in informing medical, mental health, and court professionals about the inmates through reports and testimonies.

Points raised during the Q&A were about:

  • Separate units for female inmates.
  • The five-part test to establish intent in the use of force situation
  • The percentage of Pima County’s Adult Detention Center that is under direct supervision.
  • Alternatives to direct supervision in what that looks like.
  • Doing direct supervision for all risk levels inmates.
  • Training provided to correction staff to identify and engage with inmates with mental health challenges.
  • Maintaining safety and security in direct supervision during a staffing shortage.
  • How disciplinary measures are implemented at the Pima County’s Adult Detention Center.
  • Criminal analysts within the correctional facility.
  • Conducting reviews for use of force incidents.
  • Mental health and wellness support provided to the Pima County’s Adult Detention Center staff.


Or, click here to register and view other Jail and Corrections webinars and recordings on the JCH website.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “This training reinforced what I knew about Direct Supervision jails. It covered the topics well and provided new examples to how this relates to staff. Keep up the good work!” — Bryant
  • “Great info! Also a good presenter. Always need more info like this.” — Carrie
  • “I liked how they said that corrections officers soon become experts on group abnormal psychology….overall this presentation provided really good information.” — Catharina
  • “The description and effect of direct supervision was accurate. Thank you for sharing the statistics of how life in this career affects the overall health of the officers. I look forward to future topics you produce regarding direct supervision jails.” — Keith
  • “I learned the importance and difference between direct and indirect supervision. The handouts helped but I wish there was a part 2 to this webinar. It was really interesting and helpful working with inmates at a correctional facility.” — Lisa


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