The Globalization of Supermax Prisons

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In simplest terms, a prison can also be described as a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed. According to the National Institute of Corrections , an agency of the United States government; "a supermax is a stand-alone unit or part of another facility and is designated for violent or disruptive inmates.

It typically involves up to hour-per-day, single-cell confinement for an indefinite period of time. Inmates in supermax housing have minimal contact with staff and other inmates," a definition confirmed by a majority of prison wardens. Leena Kurki and Norval Morris have argued there is no absolute definition of a supermax and that different jurisdictions classify prisons as supermax inconsistently.

They identify four general features that tend to characterize supermax prisons: [3].


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Norval Ramsden Morris — was an Australian-educated United States law professor, criminologist, and advocate for criminal justice and mental health reform. Prisoners are placed not as a punishment of their crimes but by their previous history when incarcerated or based on reliable evidence of an impending disruption. For example, this could be a prisoner who is a gang leader or planning a radical movement. These decisions are made as administrative protection measures and the prisoners in a supermax are deemed by correctional workers as a threat to the safety and security of the institution itself.

The amount of inmate programming varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Certain jurisdictions provide entertainment for their inmates in the form of television, educational and self-help programs. Others provide instructors who speak to inmates through the cell door. Some jurisdictions provide no programming to its inmates. Exercise is done in indoor spaces or small, secure, outdoor spaces, usually alone or in a pair and always watched by the guard. Group exercise is only offered to those who are in transition programs.

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With The state capital is Sacramento. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Inmates receive their meals through ports in the doors of their cells. Prisoners are under constant surveillance , usually with closed-circuit television cameras. Cell doors are usually opaque, while the cells may be windowless.

The Globalization of Supermax Prisons

Furnishings are plain, with poured concrete or metal furniture common. Cell walls, and sometimes plumbing, may be soundproofed to prevent communication between the inmates. An early form of supermax-style prison unit appeared in Australia in , when " Katingal " was built inside the Long Bay Correctional Centre in Sydney. Dubbed the "electronic zoo" by inmates, Katingal was a super- maximum security prison block with 40 prison cells having electronically operated doors, surveillance cameras, and no windows.

It was closed down two years later over human rights concerns. While its condition is an improvement over that of Katingal of the s, this new facility is nonetheless designed on the same principle of sensory deprivation. Corrections Victoria in the state of Victoria also operates the Acacia and Maleuca units at Barwon Prison which serve to hold the prisoners requiring the highest security in that state including Melbourne Gangland figures such as Tony Mokbel , and Carl Williams , who was murdered in the Acacia unit in Previously, high-risk inmates were housed at a prison on Anchieta Island; however, that closed down after a bloody massacre.

Ill-treatment of inmates occurred on a daily basis, causing major psychological impairment. Throughout the s, and the earlys, Brazil faced major challenges with gang structures within its prisons. The gang Primeiro Comando da Capital PCC gained notoriety in the prison system and had new members joining within the prisons.

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The Globalization of Supermax Prisons - Google книги

Riots were a common occurrence and the gang culture became uncontrollable, leading authorities to pass the controversial Regime Disciplinar Diferenciado RDD , a culture founded from disciplinary punishment. Britain's Her Majesty's Prison Service in England and Wales has had a long history in controlling prisoners that are high-risk. Prisoners are categorized into four main classifications A, B, C, D with A being "highly dangerous" with impossibility in escaping to category D in which inmates "can be reasonably trusted in open conditions.

The British government formed the Control Review Committee in to allow for regulating long-term disruptive prisoners.

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The committee proposed special units called CRC units which were formally introduced in to control for highly-disruptive prisoners to be successfully reintegrated. Yet a series of escapes, riots, and investigations by authorities saw the units come to a close in They would soon be replaced by Close Supervision Centres CSC , which was meant to provide relief for long-term prisons which are still used in the present day. The United States Penitentiary Alcatraz Island , opened in , has been considered a prototype and early standard for a supermax prison.

Prior to , only one prison in the U. By , the United States contained at least 57 supermax facilities, spread across 30—34 states. This prompted Norman Carlson , director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons , to call for a new type of prison to isolate uncontrollable inmates. In Carlson's view, such a prison was the only way to deal with inmates who "show absolutely no concern for human life". In recent years [ when?

Other supermax prisons that have gained notoriety for their harsh conditions and attendant litigation by inmates and advocates are the former Boscobel in Wisconsin , now named the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility , Red Onion State Prison in western Virginia , the twin to Wallens Ridge State Prison , Tamms in Illinois , and the Ohio State Penitentiary. Placement policies at the Ohio facility were the subject of a U. Supreme Court case Wilkinson v. Austin in [15] where the Court decided that there had to be some, but only very limited, due process involved in supermax placement.

However, it is best known for housing several inmates who have been deemed either too dangerous, too high-profile or too great a national security risk for even a maximum-security prison. Wood Jr. Deprivation of social contact and the isolation of inmates have some unintended positive and negative effects. However, many states now have created supermax prisons, either as stand-alone facilities or as secure units within lower-security prisons.


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Some facilities such as California State Prison, Corcoran COR are hybrids incorporating a supermax partition, housing or having housed high-security prisoners such as Charles Manson. As a result, applying one definition to "supermax housing" across all states and jurisdictions is very important. Things to consider include types of prisoners, facility conditions and the purpose of the facility is important to the analysis. Consequently, it is hard to provide a cost-benefit analysis with varying facilities across the board.

In these cases, a cost-benefit analysis would be beneficial in the decision to construct a facility, upgrade an existing facility, or determine whether a facility should be closed down. Building a supermax prison, or even retrofitting an old prison, is very expensive. Compared to a maximum security facility, supermax prisons are extremely expensive to run and can cost about three times more on average.

There are higher costs for staffing these facilities because more people must be hired to maintain the buildings and facilities. These costs are paid by taxpayers and depend on the jurisdiction of the prison. Federal prisons are provided for by federal taxes, while state prisons are provided for by the state.

Furthermore, there are many costs that are harder to measure. Supermax facilities have had a history of psychological and mental health issues to their inmates. These psychological problems present an additional layer of burden to society. Additional costs to society are incurred when inmates have a hard time readjusting to normal life after release, and inmates may even be more inclined to commit even worse offenses to society. Supermax facilities better prevent inmates from escaping, and offer greater protections against inmates hurting one another than non-supermax prisons do.

One criticism is that the living conditions in such facilities violate the United States Constitution , specifically, the Eighth Amendment 's proscription against "cruel and unusual" punishments. Federal Bureau of Prisons , Civil Action cv alleged chronic abuse, failure to properly diagnose prisoners, and neglect of prisoners who are seriously mentally ill.

The suit was dismissed. Most of these facilities only contain supermax wings or sections, with other parts of the facility under lesser security measures. In Brazil, the "regime disciplinar diferenciado" differentiated disciplinary regime , known by the acronym RDD, and strongly based on the Supermax standard, was created primarily to handle inmates who are considered capable of continuing to run their crime syndicate or to order criminal actions from within the prison system, when confined in normal maximum security prisons that allow contact with other inmates.

Since its inception, the following prisons were prepared for the housing of RDD inmates:. In various Marvel Comics , "The Raft" is the name of a Supermax prison located near Ryker's Island designed to hold the most dangerous heroes and villains. It subsequently is mentioned in and appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe , albeit amended to appear as a floating fully submersible prison.

Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment distinguished by living in single cells with little or no meaningful contact to other inmates, strict measures to control contraband, and the use of additional security measures and equipment. It is specifically designed for disruptive inmates that are security risks to other inmates, the prison staff, or the prison itself. It is mostly employed for violations of discipline, such as murder, hostage-taking, deadly assault, and rioting.

Supermax: Inside the prison where El Chapo may serve his life sentence

However, it is also used as a measure of protection for inmates whose safety is threatened by other inmates. The acre prison is located in Del Norte County, California. The prison lies in a detached section of Crescent City, several miles north of the main urban area and just south of the Oregon border. The sole exception are the institution's minimum security inmates, who work as part of the prison's outside maintenance and firefighter programs.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons BOP is a law enforcement agency responsible for the custody, control, and care of individuals incarcerated in the federal prison system of the United States. Staff are credentialed federal law enforcement officers under the Department of Justice with limited arrest powers within their prison properties.

The United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility is an American federal prison which provides a higher level of custody than a maximum security prison.