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Custody Classification

by Nancy Burghart — last modified Jul 14, 2021 10:56 AM
What is the custody classification system?

Custody classification is how inmates are assessed with regard to the risk they present to themselves, other inmates, staff and the community. The standard set of objective criteria includes:

  • Length of minimum sentence
  • Length of time remaining to serve
  • Criminal behavior involved in the current offense
  • Past criminal behavior
  • Escape history/characteristics
  • Institutional adjustment
  • Behavioral characteristics (suicidal, predatory, etc.)
  • Special needs (protective custody, etc.)

Also considered are such issues as inmate performance in sex offender treatment, detainers, absconding supervised release, gang involvement, pending disciplinary issues and civil commitment issues. This system was developed to promote public safety and institutional order while providing guidelines to place inmates in the least restrictive level of supervision required based upon their assessed level of risk. The KDOC has five custody levels in KDOC facilities: special management, maximum custody, high-medium custody, low-medium custody and minimum custody.

Custody Classification Level System

  • Special Management

Describes an inmate who, because of either a short-term or long-term condition surrounding his/her incarceration, requires segregation from the general population. Housing within a segregation unit and highly structured movement within that unit is required. The inmate is out of his/her cell one hour out of every 24 hours, five days a week.

  • Maximum Custody
    Describes an inmate who is most suitable for housing at a maximum-security facility and whose movement and activities within that facility are highly structured and closely monitored. 
  • High-medium Custody
    Describes an inmate who is most suitable for housing at a medium- or maximum-security facility, except HCF-East Unit and NCF-Central Unit. The inmate is not approved for an open-dormitory environment. Within the facility assigned, activities and movements are moderately controlled and structured.
  • Low-medium Custody
    Describes an inmate who is most suitable for housing at a medium- or maximum-security facility or unit. The inmate can be assigned to dormitory-style living units. Low-medium custody inmates may be allowed greater movement within the perimeter. Low-medium custody inmates may be housed at HCF-East Unit or NCF-Central Unit.
  • Minimum Custody
    Describes an inmate who is appropriate for housing at any level of security, with minimum security preferred.

When will an inmate know his/her custody classification?
Each inmate receives a classification review:

  • upon reception;
  • upon admission as a condition violator;
  • at regularly scheduled intervals (120 day or annuall)y following admission; and,
  • as unscheduled events occur that trigger a re-classification.


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