Qualified immunity, good-faith defense depends on knowing and complying with clearly established law – not BEST PRACTICES. “Best practices” are often quoted as a feel-good answer to justify administrative policies and positions; however, the highest courts of the land have openly disagreed.
Policies, procedures and training must be centered and built around current case law and state statutes. While that may sound easy to implement, most administrators do not have the time, resources or ability to research applicable case law. Further damaging, training is often based on best practices rather than case law. In a world where jail resources are scarce and recognizing something is better than nothing, most rely on neighboring agencies to obtain needed policies, procedures and practices without knowing where they come from or why.
National correctional standards put forth by limited organizations, while useful, are not created to be defensible in court. A one-size-fits-all set of national standards cannot, for example, recognize differences between various state statute requirements or Circuit Courts of Appeal that differ in interpretation one from another. To be legally safe, correctional facilities must consider ALL applicable laws and statutes.
In order to address the need for correctional facilities to remain current with and keep updated to these necessities, Legal-Based Guidelines™ have been developed for use in jails, prisons and juvenile facilities. Depending on the state, approximately 15 sections comprise 600 guidelines to assist administrators with specific operational and policy driven areas including hot topics of use of force, suicide, religion, inmate mail, searches, classification and access to courts and counsel. The guidelines are written uniquely to contain the text of each guideline, rationale statements, compliance statements and annotation, and other applicable references. These are extremely valuable for policy and staff training development. The Legal-Based Guidelines are also used exclusively for NIJO Accreditation for facilities who wish to achieve nationally recognized accreditation.
The National Institute for Jail Operations promotes our Legal-Based Jail Guidelines as a means to assist administrators in creating a safer, more secure environments while protecting against liability and adverse publicity. For more information about the Guidelines or to find out more about participation, contact us.