Supermaximum Security Prisons Essays

Supermaximum Security Prisons Essays

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The correctional system has tried to determine what the best method for dealing with criminals is, particularly criminals who are deemed to be the "worst criminal" type. There are two different models that have been suggested, the dispersion model and the consolidation model. To define it simply, the dispersion model "scatters offenders with unusually dangerous histories or disruptive behavioral patterns throughout the correctional system, thus avoiding a concentration of such offenders in any one location" (Hickey, 2010, p. 208). The consolidation model "involves placing all highly dangerous inmates at one location and controlling them through reliance on heightened security procedures" (Hickey, 2010, p. 209). Of course, each of these models has pros and cons, but it is the concept of supermax prisons that has caused debate. Supermaximum security prisons, which fall under the consolidation model, are associated with a number of ethical problems.

There are a number of issues that need to be taken into consideration when discussing the use of supermax prisons. Hans Toch, a corrections scholar, pointed out that the methods used in supermax prisons are not new penal techniques. In fact, those types of prison conditions were adopted in the past and rejected because of increased rates in inmates developing mental illness (Hickey, 2010). Supermaximum security prisons have been associated with past attempts, like the Eastern State Penitentiary, where twenty-four-hour isolation was used and there were no programs for self improvement. The two main problems associated with supermax prisons are the conditions and the transfer procedures/criteria (Pollock, 2010). Pelican Island in California was a target of a court case, Madr...

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...ed numerous flaws that may or may not be fixable. In addition, it does not seem to have made a difference in positively affecting the rate of violence. Until these issues are addressed there seems to be little point in implementing facilities based on the consolidation model that are not effective and are costly.


Hickey, T. J. (2010). Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Crime and Criminology, 9th Edition. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Pollock, J. M. (2010). Ethical Dilemmas and Decisions in Criminal Justice Sixth Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Riveland, C. (1999). Supermax Prisons: Overview and General Considerations. Retrieved August 25, 2010, from

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