Oversight Resources

Where can I find more information about oversight?

Click here to learn more about the basics of correctional oversight:

  • The difference between internal accountability measures and external oversight.
  • The essential elements that make an oversight body effective.
  • The key functions of correctional oversight and why states and local jurisdictions need a multi-layered system of correctional oversight.
  • The challenges oversight bodies experience that affect their ability to perform these functions.
  • The types of prison oversight models and their typical functions.
  • Review samples of enabling legislation

Featured Publications

Michele Deitch

But Who Oversees the Overseers? The Status of Prison and Jail Oversight in the United States


This in-depth article provides comprehensive background information about the nature, value, and history of correctional oversight; documents the shifting landscape and increasing momentum around the oversight issue over the last decade; highlights key distinctions between prison and jail oversight; and provides a comprehensive assessment of the state of prison and jail oversight in the U.S. today. The article includes tables listing and categorizing every correctional oversight body in the United States as of 2020.

Deitch, Michele. “But Who Oversees the Overseers? The Status of Prison and Jail Oversight in the United States.” American Journal of Criminal Law 47, no. 2 (2020): 207–74.

Michele Deitch

Distinguishing the Various Functions of Effective Prison Oversight


This short piece provides an analytic framework for thinking about prison oversight. Noting the term “oversight” lacks a clear meaning, the author distinguishes several important functions provided by oversight mechanisms, including regulation, audit, accreditation, investigation, legal, reporting, and monitoring. “Oversight” is really an umbrella concept that encompasses each of these functions, but each of these functions need not be served by the same oversight body. Instead, the focus should be on ensuring that each function is served effectively in every jurisdiction. The ideal is to have a layered system of correctional oversight in which there is a range of effective internal accountability measures and robust external oversight mechanisms. 

Deitch, Michele. “Distinguishing the Various Functions of Effective Prison Oversight.” Pace Law Review 30, no. 5 (Fall 2010): 1438–45.

American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section

ABA’s Key Requirements for the Effective Monitoring of Correctional and Detention Facilities


Passed in 2008, this landmark resolution calls on all levels of government to establish correctional oversight bodies and outlines reasons why correctional institutions should become more transparent and accountable to the public. The Resolution also details what such oversight bodies should look like and sets forth a checklist of the elements necessary to make a correctional oversight body effective. The Resolution is a guiding force in efforts to create oversight bodies around the country, and a touchstone to assess the quality of any oversight structures that do exist. 

American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section. “Key Requirements for the Effective Monitoring of Correctional and Detention Facilities.” Aug. 2008.

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