Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Prison inmates and institutions are given security classifications. Most classification systems divide prisoners and facilities into minimum, medium, and maximum levels. Many states and the federal system now also have supermaximum secure prisons; however, under ordinary circumstances, “maximum security” refers to the highest level of inmate classification and institutional security. Maximum-security facilities are designed to allow prison administrators total physical control over all aspects of inmates' conduct for extended periods of time. Prisoners classified as maximum security are placed in these facilities, where they are usually housed in their cells for most of the day. The cells are typically built to house one inmate, although prison crowding has sometimes forced two inmates into a cell. The idea of a maximum-security facility grew from the practice of solitary confinement that formed the roots of American penal practice. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, citizens in Philadelphia reorganized the Walnut Street ...