skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 221852 Find in a Library
Title: Elusive Data on Supermax Confinement
Journal: The Prison Journal  Volume:88  Issue:1  Dated:March 2008  Pages:69-93
Author(s): Alexandra Naday; Joshua D. Freilich; Jeff Mellow
Date Published: March 2008
Page Count: 25
Type: Literature Review
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This exploratory research uses various data sources to examine the features and effects of "supermax" facilities, which use extraordinary security measures in the housing of inmates at high-risk for violence, serious misconduct, and escape.
Abstract: The study identified several problems with the existing literature on supermax confinement. It found that there is no consensus on how a supermax security level is defined. Definitions proposed by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and the American Corrections Association (ACA) are ambiguous and contribute to the difficulty of developing a nationwide consensus on what defines a supermax prison. Uncertainty about what defines a supermax prison, along with different counting procedures from State to State, make it impossible to have an accurate count of the number of supermax institutions or how many inmates are confined under the conditions associated with these prisons. Researchers, in turn, cannot conduct their work under a common definition of what constitutes a supermax prison and the security conditions that characterize such a prison. In order to facilitate research on supermax prisons, the authors offer a definition, based upon a synthesis of the definitions provided by the NIC and ACA. Once a definition is accepted, States should be held accountable for reporting accurate data. This should be followed by cohort research on inmates from all supermax institutions. Inmate histories, demographics, and institutional records should be compiled and assessed. In addition, supermax inmates should be followed for several years after transfer from other institutions. Cohort studies of supermax inmates could be used to evaluate the effectiveness of current classification systems. It is essential that prediction and classification tools be assessed for validity and reliability. Finally, implementation of independent consultation groups should be established to assess and evaluate all facets of supermax facilities, including yearly visitations to these institutions. 6 tables and 63 references
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Corrections research; Data collections; Data integrity; Inmate segregation; Maximum security; Prison conditions
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.