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U.S. Navy Corrections: purpose and policy.

Immediately prior to World War II, due to the relatively small U.S. Navy and Marine Corps (i.e., naval) organization and selective recruiting policy, the confinement of naval inmates was not a major problem. The total number of naval inmates in confinement was fewer than 200. The control of naval prisons and inmates was under the Navy judge advocate general, and most general court-martial inmates were confined in naval prisons at Portsmouth, N.H., and Mare Island, Calif.

The number of naval court-martial inmates confined at any one time has never exceeded one-half of 1 percent of the total end strength of the naval service. Nevertheless, by 1945, when the full impact of mobilization had been felt to support the war effort, the naval confinement population reached a peak of 16,000 men. Anticipating this increase, the secretary of the Navy, by a General Order of March 1944, transferred the correctional duties and functions, other than legal, to the chief of naval personnel. The Corrective Services Branch (today known as the Corrections and Programs) then was established in the Bureau of Naval Personnel and charged with the development of the naval corrections program. Operationally, "brigs" supported local naval installations with pretrial confinement needs, retraining commands provided short-term post-trial confinement and restoration training, and naval prisons supported intermediate to long-term confinement.

In 1959, the Navy began to reorganize its confinement program. Recognizing that typical sentences under the Uniform Code of Military Justice were short and the crimes misdemeanors, the decision was made to close the retraining commands at Norfolk, Va., and San Diego; retain the naval prison at Portsmouth as the major place of confinement; and concentrate the correctional effort at the local command level--in Navy and Marine Corps brigs.

Today, Navy confinement populations are at rates even less than one-half of 1 percent of service end strengths. To illustrate, on Dec. 31, 2007, the Navy officer and enlisted end strength was 347,120 and only 12 officers and 199 enlisted sailors were confined within the Navy's 11 shore facilities (0.0006 percent or one in every 1,645). This is a remarkably low percentage given that the U.S. has been involved in a global war on terror.

Authority, Guidance and Organization

Similar to the federal system, military authority and guidance derives from U.S. Code. While the federal system operates under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, the military system operates under Title 10, which provides a unique military justice system specifically designed to support each service's mission of national defense. With this Title 10 authority, the secretary of the Navy then establishes naval correctional facilities. For the U.S. Navy, the secretary of the Navy has designated the chief of naval personnel, who in turn has designated the Office of Navy Corrections and Programs to administer the Navy corrections program. Title 10 also provides guidance for the education, training, rehabilitation and welfare of offenders.

Organizationally, Navy Corrections and Programs align under the deputy chief of naval operations (manpower, personnel, training and education or OPNAV-N1), who concurrently serves as the chief of naval personnel.

Correctional policy, analysis and oversight align with OPNAV-N13 (Military Personnel Plans and Policy Division), and execution of the correctional facilities aligns with three distinctly separate major commands:

* Afloat brigs (21): Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command;

* Pretrial confinement facilities (4) and waterfront brigs (5): Commander, Navy Installations Command; and

* Naval Consolidated Brigs (2): Deputy chief of naval personnel (who concurrently serves as the commander of Navy Personnel Command).

The Office of Corrections and Programs, located at the Navy Personnel Command, Naval Support Activity Mid-South, Millington, Tenn., is Navy's primary agent for corrections policy, analysis and oversight of the Navy correctional program (afloat and shore) and execution of the Naval Consolidated Brigs located at Charleston, S.C., and Miramar, Calif. Responsibilities also include:

* Relations with the sister services;

* Transfer of Navy inmates among Navy, Department of Defense (DOD) and federal confinement naval facilities;

* Developing research and statistical data;

* Conducting on-site inspections of all facilities;

* Representing the Navy on the Defense Department Corrections Council; and

* Serving as the Navy's occupational "sponsor" for the corrections field and training.

A Three-Tier System

The current Navy correctional system is the result of a 1985 study that reviewed the entire Navy disciplinary system from apprehension to release and recommended a three-tier correctional system since adapted to a Defense Department Level I-III designation system. This study brought Navy corrections into the spotlight and greatly assisted in getting the necessary support within the Navy, DOD and Congress to support a complete revamping of the Navy correctional system. A renewed commitment was made to create a viable, effective restoration program as well as to equip those individuals being separated with the skills necessary to become more productive citizens.

The Navy's shore correctional program is composed largely of waterfront brigs (Level I); consolidated brigs (Level II); and the Army's U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (USDB), Fort Leavenworth, Kan., (Level III). Ship's brigs, detention facilities and pretrial confinement facilities generally fall outside the scope of the Defense Department designation system and function similarly to small jails supporting individuals in pretrial confinement, post-trial inmates with short sentences (less than 30 days) or inmates awaiting transfer to a longer-term facility.

Level I. The Navy maintains water-front brigs at major fleet concentration areas: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Puget Sound, Wash.; Pensacola, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Norfolk, Va. Within the Navy, Level I facilities house individuals placed in pretrial confinement, post-trial inmates with short sentences (less than six months) and inmates waiting for transfer to a longer-term facility. Level I facilities serve a vital role in providing shore commanders aboard fleet-centric installations with a local confinement capability.

Level II. Naval consolidated brigs have the primary mission of confining service members who are considered to have no potential for return to duty and who participate in correctional programs that prepare them for return to civilian life. Naval consolidated brigs are modern facilities (circa 1990) that house inmates with up to 10-year sentences. Both Charleston and Miramar are 400-bed, single-cell, direct supervision, unit-team management facilities, fully accredited by the American Correctional Association. Each facility is considered an independent Navy command, led by a command-screened and selected commanding officer. The term "consolidated" refers to the concept of correctional services provided from resources internal of the command, rather than having to rely on external installation support. Consolidated brigs are staffed with active duty correctional specialists and support staff from all services and include a civilian component. Miramar also serves as the Defense Department's designated place of confinement for female offenders of all services and is capable of supporting the full scope of confinement and correctional responsibilities.

Level III. Long-term confinement of males of all services is a responsibility of the Army and administered at the USDB, Fort Leavenworth. The Army also serves as the Defense Department gateway for transfers to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, dependent on length of sentence remaining and discharge status of the service member. At year-end 2007, the Navy had 50 offenders confined at USDB, and 18 confined within the BOP. Thirty-two Navy offenders were assigned to supervision (i.e., parole or supervised release).

Correctional Philosophy And Purpose

Navy corrections philosophy is essentially utilitarian in nature, based on recognition that punishment alone is seldom corrective. Confinement not only separates military inmates from their families and friends, it also means loss of rank and status and disapproval by the military society of which he or she has been a contributing member. Military correctional philosophy indicates that members are sentenced to confinement as punishment, not for punishment. Hazing, harassment, unauthorized exercises and demeaning treatment serve no useful purpose and are prohibited. Inmates are treated as individuals, taught self-improvement, afforded a good staff example to follow, and provided positive encouragement. The dignity of each individual is respected and maintained, and it is recognized that all individuals have the capacity to change. There are no typical inmates, only individual inmates.

Historically, in times of war and threat to the U.S., the goal has been to restore the maximum number of inmates to duty prepared to perform useful service, thus salvaging the member and the investment spent in recruitment and training. Absent restoration, the Navy correctional program serves to prepare inmates to return to offense-free civilian life as part of the Navy's obligation to the greater community at large. Many minor offenders return to duty, but in peacetime most inmates with more serious crimes are discharged as part of their court-martial sentence.

A Responsibility-Based Program

Reflecting the generally strong sense of duty and ethics found in military personnel, the Navy has adopted an approach that emphasizes teaching and promoting responsibility to offenders. This approach requires modeling high levels of responsible actions from all military and civilian staff, who interact with inmates.

Responsibility-based corrections in the Navy is a concept that reflects core values, beliefs and expectations. Navy core values are "Honor, Courage and Commitment." A few elements of this credo specifically affecting Navy corrections include:

* "We are accountable for our professional and personal behavior."

* "[To] conduct our selves in the highest ethical manner in all relationships with peers, superiors and subordinates."

* "Treat each individual with human dignity."

* "Ensure the resources entrusted to us are used in an honest, careful and efficient way."

There is much more, of course, but Navy core values guide the Navy's correctional management goals:

* Support public safety by exercising safe, secure and humane inmate management;

* Recognize that offenders have the potential and duty to be law-abiding citizens responsible for their actions;

* Manage corrections with honesty and integrity;

* Be accountable for one's actions, to the chain of command and to the public; and

* Ensure philosophy mirrors the incentives, morals and values that guide society and its lawabiding citizens.

Navy corrections also intends to be a responsible program by significantly controlling the rising cost of corrections and effectively reducing recidivism. Navy recidivism is measured in three-year cycles and currently is approximately 32 percent. Recidivism is defined as any conviction by any court for any offense during three years post-release.

Program Components

Inmates are expected to participate in real and meaningful work experiences that teach marketable skills and instill the work values and ethics that are the backbone of society.

Privileges inside the confinement facility are not provided to inmates like free penological pacifiers. Instead, inmates are motivated to work and learn, and then earn anything they receive beyond basic privilege levels. Daily and weekly schedules include such items as physical training, mandatory TV news programs, weekly counseling, personnel inspections and, of course, work. A facility's daily schedule includes observing morning colors, raising the flag and observing military courtesies such as saluting and coming to attention for officers.

The Navy, like other military services, has managed its personnel through small units for more than 200 years, so it should be little surprise that brigs operate the same way. Smaller Navy facilities are already the size of a manageable unit; larger facilities subdivide along unit management lines similar to many direct supervision correctional programs. The consolidated brigs, for example, have units of 80 with staffing assigned in a manner that ensures some stability in supervision staff.

The Navy uses a grievance and disciplinary system that is modeled on both civilian and military requirements for fairness in procedures. Military services already possess exemplary systems for grievances, even aside from those found in most correctional systems.

Staff are trained to encourage and reward examples of positive performance at all levels that contribute to the enhancement of offender responsibility. Significant amounts of on-the-spot disciplinary authority is vested in unit quarters supervisors and brig duty officers, though there is a requirement for more mature petty officers to fill these positions.

The incentive program strives to promote successful completion of correctional programs, especially of offense-specific treatment. Advanced privileges are not available to inmates who refuse to take part in programs that are related to their confining crime. The Navy believes that effective offense-related programs do reduce the incidence of offenders returning to criminal lifestyles, and inmates are encouraged to choose to participate.

Base Realignment and Closure

DOD correctional system continues to evolve, and so shall the Navy's. In 2005, with release of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission findings, the Defense Department correctional system decreased from 17 correctional facilities within the continental U.S. to six and created five Level II Joint Regional Correctional Facilities: Southwest (Miramar, Calif.), Midwest (Fort Leavenworth, Kan.), Southeast (Charleston, S.C.), Mid-Atlantic (Chesapeake, Va.), and Northwest (Fort Lewis, Wash., and Puget Sound, Wash.). The USDB at Fort Leavenworth was retained to support Level III confinement, as well as access to 500 beds within the BOP.

In support of the current global war on terror and future military conflicts, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission retained a uniformed corrections capability as the Defense Department advocated a need to maintain the skills and expertise developed by military correctional specialists and personnel operating confinement facilities and detention camps (enemy prisoners of war, enemy combatants). Also clear was the fact that the Defense Department correctional program exists to enforce the military justice system, ensuring the safety, security, administration and good order and discipline of its inmates under guidance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The Base Realignment and Closure offers such opportunities as improving military service-wide interaction; reducing total confinement bed space with the DOD; and building new facilities, which will provide significant improvements in terms of safety, security, efficiency and costs. Within this construct, policies and operations can become more standardized, and facilities modernized, ultimately reducing manpower and decreasing operational costs through economies of scale. The construction of new facilities provides the opportunity to eliminate or dramatically reduce operational and maintenance costs of older, inefficient facilities in addition to facilitating accreditation by ACA. Additionally, re-engineering efforts may provide an opportunity to eliminate redundancy in treatment programs and pursue further Defense Department versus military-service-specific correctional interests in support of common functions.


The Navy is proud of its correctional program, which has evolved into a model system with a definite mission of turning young offenders into productive citizens. In doing so, Navy corrections has provided a standard and working model for other federal, state and military corrections programs to emulate. The Navy is also proud of its affiliation with ACA, which has spurred the adoption of sound correctional practices, clear philosophy and aims, and inspired cooperation and support from correctional leaders of local, state, national and international communities and organizations. Although there are challenges ahead, the way forward, guided by principles, working in a cooperative approach, enables the Navy correctional program to plan and prepare for the future and to lead and serve the correctional profession while serving and supporting numerous stakeholder communities.

Timothy E. Purcell is deputy director of the U.S. Navy Corrections. William E. Peck is director of the US. Navy Corrections.
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Title Annotation:CT FEATURE
Author:Purcell, Timothy E.; Peck, William E.
Publication:Corrections Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2008
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