Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Vince Webb


Inmate classification models have recently shifted from subjective criteria to objective classification. With this change, classification has moved away from reformation of inmate behavior to managing prison populations. Objective classification seeks to accomplish two functions. First, the models attempt to make decisions that are rational, consistent, and fair. Second, variables used in objective models attempt to predict which offenders will have institutional adjustment problems. The present study assesses Nebraska's inmate classification model for its objectivity and its predictive capacity. A sample of 458 males offenders admitted into Nebraska Prisons in 1990 was used. Offenders divided intro three custody levels; minimum, medium, and maximum were measured on 11 independent variables; five classification and six demographic variables and on five dependent variables of institutional adjustment. Results indicate that the Nebraska model is making objective classification decisions based solely on the classification variables. A low override rate and insignificant differences between the demographic variables and custody level support the model's objectivity. However, the model is not a valid instrument for predicting institutional adjustment problems of incarcerated offenders. Age and education level--two variables absent from this model--emerged in this study as the best predictors of adjustment. None of the classification variables in Nebraska's model, with the exception of escapes, showed a consistent level of predictive validity. This study suggests the Nebraska classification model can be improved to do a better job of predicting institutional adjustment. To increase the predictive quality of the classification decisions, certain demographic variables, mainly age and education level, need to be incorporated and ranked higher than other variables. Improving the classification system in this way will reduce over-classification, help to alleviate overcrowding and decrease the costs associated with caring for Nebraska's prison population.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Criminal Justice and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Jon L. Proctor May, 1992