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
Supermaximum secure prisons, commonly referred to as supermax , are used to hold those individuals whom prison authorities regard as the most dangerous and troublesome in the penal system. The last decade of the 20th century saw an increasing use of such facilities, which merge the 19th-century practice of long-term solitary confinement with 21stcentury technology. This combination subjects prisoners to unparalleled levels of isolation, surveillance, and control and has the potential to inflict significant amounts of psychological harm. Different prison systems employ different terminology to refer to supermax-like conditions. For example, the program at the Marion Federal Penitentiary, regarded by some as having given rise to the supermax design, was referred to as the “control unit.” The new federal supermax facility in Florence, Colorado, is known as “ADX” (for “administrative maximum”). Arizona's supermax units are called “special management units” or “SMUs”; in California they are known as “security housing units” ...