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NCJ Number: 221851 Find in a Library
Title: Assessment of Supermax Prisons Using an Evaluation Research Framework
Journal: The Prison Journal  Volume:88  Issue:1  Dated:March 2008  Pages:43-68
Author(s): Daniel P. Mears
Date Published: March 2008
Page Count: 26
Type: Literature Review; Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study used an evaluation research framework to examine the following questions about "supermax" prisons, which house the "worst of the worst" inmates under a tight security regimen: are they needed; are they based on sound theory; are they implemented as intended; do they achieve their goals; and are they cost-efficient?
Abstract: The study concludes that there is minimal evidence that supermax prisons are needed as long-term solutions to any of a range of problems (e.g., order, safety, escape prevention, and public safety). Neither is there a strong or consistent theoretical foundation for anticipating that such prisons would exert any substantial effect on a range of outcomes; on the contrary, there are strong theoretical grounds to anticipate a worsening of these outcomes. Further, there is minimal documentation of their implementation procedures, notably in admitting and releasing inmates, monitoring inmate behavior, or compliance with State and Federal laws and constitutional requirements. There are accounts that mentally ill and other inmates ill-suited for extended solitary confinement are housed in supermaxes. In addition, there is minimal evidence of any positive impact on any of a range of outcomes; whereas, there is considerable evidence of harmful, unintended effects. There is no evidence that supermaxes are cost-efficient. The author discusses the implications of these findings for theory and research as well as policy. These conclusions and recommendations are based on a review of research relevant to the five questions posed. 72 references
Main Term(s): Corrections effectiveness
Index Term(s): Cost effectiveness analysis; Inmate segregation; Maximum security; Prison conditions
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