Monday, March 23, 2009

So What Happens to Harlow Cuadra Now?

Harlow Cuadra

Now that Harlow Cuadra has been found guilty of first-degree murder for the brutal slaying of Bryan Kocis, he'll be spending the rest of his natural life (x2) behind bars. So what's he got to look forward to... well... within the next few days... the same thing his partner in crime Joseph Kerekes has already been experiencing:


When an inmate enters into the Department, the diagnostic and classification process begins. This means that the inmate is tested for mental, physical, and emotional problems so that he can receive a correctional plan. It also shows the inmate’s strengths, such as his education, skills, and emotional stability.

A male inmate coming into the Department will go through the State Correctional Facility at either Graterford, Pittsburgh, or Camp Hill; however, every man is classified at the Diagnostic and Classification Center in Camp Hill. The whole diagnostic and classification process takes about four to six weeks. A newly committed inmate is separated from the general population inmates during this time.

When an inmate first arrives into the Diagnostic and Classification Center the Reception staff does the following:

• looks over the identification of the new inmate,
• makes sure all the paperwork is in order, and
• calculates what the inmate's sentence should be, based on the length of the sentence, how much time the inmate has already served and other factors.

The inmate is searched to make sure that no contraband is being brought into the facility. He is photographed and fingerprinted. The inmate will also get special clothing that identifies him from a general population inmate as a new, unclassified inmate.

The inmate is assigned a corrections counselor and is given his first cell assignment. He will also get an Inmate Handbook which explains the rules about inmate behavior, inmate grooming, telephone calls and religious programs.

Many tests are performed before putting the inmate in population with other inmates. The initial medical screening rules out obvious medical problems, emotional problems, and TB. The staff also give tests that tell if the inmate has a mental illness. The inmate takes IQ tests and tests that measure educational achievement. A new inmate will also take a test that tells if he has a problem with drugs or alcohol and how serious the problem is.

The inmate is also interviewed by other treatment professionals. Interviews by corrections counselors, psychologists, drug and alcohol treatment specialists, chaplains, educators, and medical staff help to decide what treatment or education the inmate needs and how closely he needs to be supervised. An inmate covered by the DNA Detection of Sexual and Violent Offenders Act are required to have a blood sample taken, which is sent to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).


After all the tests and interviews are completed, the inmate is assigned a custody level. The custody level determines the amount of security needed to manage the inmate. In addition, a Needs Assessment is completed which tells the prison staff what needs the inmate’s needs are in treatment and education.

The find out what needs the inmate has and to determine what custody level is right for him, the Pennsylvania Additive Classification Tool (PACT) is used. The PACT is a series of questions, and each question’s answer has a score that when added together given a total that tells what custody level is recommended for that inmate.

The inmate may be assigned a custody level of 2, 3, or 4. Custody level 2 means that the inmate is suitable for a minimum security facility. Custody level 3 is medium security and custody level 4 is close security. There are special situations where the inmate may need less security or much more security than is available in these 3 levels.

Custody level I is only used for an inmate being placed into a Community Corrections Center. Custody level 5 is used for an inmate who needs maximum security and is placed in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), Special Management Unit (SMU), and Long-Term Segregation Unit (LTSU). If the inmate needs to be in one of these custody levels, the corrections counselor will request what is called a classification override. If the Department’s Central Office agrees that it is justified, the inmate will receive the special custody level.

When all of this is completed, a Classification Summary is developed for use by the staff at the facility in working with the inmate. The summary includes the following information: a photo, description of what the inmate looks like, problem areas, an official version and an inmate version of the crime, criminal history, how the inmate functioned during his time in prison, education and work history, social history, medical information, the inmate’s sentence, custody level and needs assessment information.

The Classification Summary makes sure that the prison staff has a complete picture of the individual inmate. This is important in order for the inmate to get the most benefit from his time spent in prison and helps the classification counselor know what the inmate needs as far as treatment and education.

When the Classification Summary is complete, the facility staff meet and decide which facility best meets the educational, treatment, and security needs of the inmate. One factor that is considered is whether the inmate has enemies in a facility who may wish to harm him so that the inmate can be kept safely away from them. The facts of the report of enemies must be verified. Another factor that decides placement is where space is available at that time.

The inmate’s custody level is reviewed with him every year of his sentence. If the inmate maintains proper behavior, works and actively participates in recommended programs, he will generally be assigned to the less restrictive housing. If the inmate achieves custody level 2 for 12 months and is within two years of parole review, he can apply to the Unit Management Team in his facility for consideration for a promotional transfer to his home region. A life sentenced inmate in custody level 2 and 3, who completed ten years of his sentence and meets the criteria may apply for promotional transfer to his home region. The inmate must comply with promotional level 2 criteria to apply for a hardship transfer.

Source: Prison Handbook for Families and Friends