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NCJ Number: NCJ 221852     Find in a Library
Title: Elusive Data on Supermax Confinement
Author(s): Alexandra Naday ; Joshua D. Freilich ; Jeff Mellow
  Journal: The Prison Journal  Volume:88  Issue:1  Dated:March 2008  Pages:69 to 93
Date Published: 03/2008
Page Count: 25
  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): Maximum security ; Data integrity ; Data collection ; Inmate segregation ; Corrections research ; Prison conditions
Publisher URL: 
Type: Literature Review
Country: United States of America
Language: English
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