Super Max Prisons

Topics: Supermax, Pelican Bay State Prison, Prison gang Pages: 11 (1980 words) Published: November 16, 2006
Twenty years ago, super-maximum-security prisons were rare in America.

As of 1996, over two-thirds of states had "supermax" facilities that collectively

housed more than 20,000 inmates. Based on the present study, however,

as of 2004, 44 states had supermax prisons. Designed to hold the

most violent and disruptive inmates in single-cell confinement for 23 hours

per day, often for an indefinite period of time, these facilities have been lightning

rods for controversy. Economic considerations are one reason, supermaxes

typically cost two or three times more to build and operate than traditional

maximum security prisons. A perhaps bigger reason lies in the criticism by

some that supermax confinement is unconstitutional and inhumane.

While proponents and opponents of supermax prisons debate such issues,

a fundamental set of questions has gone largely unexamined:

What exactly are the goals of supermax prisons? How, if at all, are these

goals achieved? And what are their unintended impacts?, For 20 years

the population in prisons in the united states have grown 700%, although

seeing that our population has increased only 20% and the crime

rate has decreased. with a population of more than 2 million, the united states

incarcerate more people per capital than any other country that publishes

statistics on prisons, even Russia. California alone has built 20 more prisons

since 1980, with other states and the Federal government following suit.

Why are so many people in prison? In an atmosphere of fear, economic difficulties,

and persistent racial divisions, prisons have become a popular "solution" to social ills.

"Tough on crime" posturing by politicians has lowered the bar on what gets people

into prison and how long they stay there, and has included vast expansions of prison

space and law enforcement capacity. High security institutions, also known as

United States Penitentiaries (USPs), have highly-secured perimeters

(featuring walls or reinforced fences), multiple- and single-occupant cell housing,

the highest staff-to-inmate ratio, and close control of inmate movement.

Upon arrival at a new institution, an inmate is interviewed and screened

by staff from the case management, medical, and mental health units.

Later, an inmate is assigned to the Admission and Orientation (A&O) Program,

where he or she receives a formal orientation to the programs, services, policies,

and procedures of that facility. A "super-max" facility is the highest-security prison

in the U.S. penitentiary system. It's here that the worst offenders --

or the most endangered ones -- serve their time in near isolation.

Located in Florence, Colo., about 100 miles southwest of Denver is the only
federal super-maximum prison in the United States. The facility inherited the role

of America's top prison from one in Marion, Ill. -- which had become the home

of the country's most dangerous prisoners when Alcatraz closed in 1963.

Florenc'es current inmates include Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and shoebomber

Richard Reid. Zacarias Moussaoui is expected to join them. Riverbend Located In

The State of Tennessee houses all death row inmates with the exception of four.

There are two women who are housed at the Tennessee Prison for Women,

and two male inmates who are assigned to Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex.

All death row inmates are housed in single cells with 24 inmates per pod.

Tennessee's death row is unique to any other in the country in that inmates are

managed by way of an incentive level system. Upon initial entry to death row,

inmates begin at Level C which leaves them in their cell all but one hour per day.

Over time, their good behavior can earn them the opportunity

to work inside the institution and have additional...
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