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Supermax Prisons

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Wesley Wootten

on 29 July 2014

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Transcript of Supermax Prisons

How Do They Operate?
How Did They Come About?
Supermax prisons started from an incarceration surge against the counterculture of the sixties that was led by the U.S. government.
Supermax Prisons
What is a Supermax?
A supermax prison holds the "worst of the worst" prisoners. These are the inmates that are prone to excessive violence and are a serious threat to those in prison as well as the general public. This can include terrorists or crime leaders that pose a threat to national security.
How Do They Operate?
The entire prison is under constant supervision and the building is normally arranged so that an inmate is unable to see anyone else.
Typical prison cell
How Did They Come About?
How Did They Come About?
So What's The Big Deal?
So What's The Big Deal?
Warning: This video contains some offensive material
Case Study
On the website Solitary Watch, Sal Rodriguez writes an article about the dangers of these prisons and tells the story of a supermax inmate Harold Cunningham.

Rodriguez writes that Cunningham “complained of visual and auditory hallucinations and was prescribed anti-depressants and anti-psychotics...as a consequence of the denial of psychiatric medication, his ‘behavior predictably worsened.’” (Rodriguez)

Cunningham losing his mentality is unacceptable because it crosses the line of civility that we have in place under the Constitution.

Harold Cunningham
In order to protect those in prison and the general public we must find solutions to the problems that supermaxes face.

-Reducing harmful psychological effects on inmates
-Making sure guards use restraint when dealing with inmates
-Allowing inmates more time out of their cell each day to be outdoors or exercise in some way
-Making sure that opportunities for counseling or medical attention are available

Although these are only a few suggestions for the serious flaws of supermax prisons, improvements can be made. They will help us to abide by the Constitution because we will be able to show that we house convicts legally. We must be mindful of these problems and fix them to be a more humane nation.









Rodriguez, Sal. "Inside ADX Supermax, Part 1: "A Bloody Nightmare" - Solitary Watch." Solitary Watch. 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 July 2014.


Our nation currently houses its most dangerous criminals in prisons that cause them enormous mental damage. These are called supermax prisons and they are used throughout the country despite the many claims that they are not humane. Supermaxes must be reformed and this can only be achieved if the American public is aware of this issue.
ADX Florence Supermax Prison
Ted Kaczynski
Currently serving a life sentence in a Supermax for killing three people using bombs
Read More Here: http://www.biography.com/people/ted-kaczynski-578450#synopsis
Ramzi Yousef
Currently serving a life sentence in a Supermax prison for attacking the World Trade Center
Read More Here: http://www.terrorismfiles.org/individuals/ramzi_yousef.html
Terry Nichols
Currently serving a life sentence in a Supermax for the Oklahoma City bombings
Read More Here: http://www.biography.com/people/terry-nichols-236030#oklahoma-city-bombing
Cell layout used so that prisoners cannot see each other
Thomson Correctional Center
Uses four cell halls with a command center in the middle to easily watch and control the inmates
People protesting the war in Vietnam-A common practice of the counterculture
Richard Nixon explaining the importance of funding the War On Drugs
Video explaining the "Hippie Movement" which drove the counterculture
This chart shows the enormous rise in the prison population since the beginning of the War On Drugs
Video of a supermax inmate being harshly transferred to a different area
-Complete Isolation
-Inmates in cells 23 hours a day
-Inmates are unable to see anyone else
-Control by the guards and superintendent is strict
Counter Culture Advocated:
-Ending the war in Vietnam
-Equal Rights for minorities and women
-Legalization of drugs
-The government wanted to suppress this movement
-They targeted civil rights supporters, war protesters, and drug users
-War On Drugs was started
-Prison sentences for drug use were increased
-Now the current prison population is colossal at 2 million inmates
-Having so many prisoners has caused some to become more dangerous
-This is due to the violent atmosphere of prison
-These dangerous criminals, along with terrorists and crime leaders, had to be put in high security facilities
-Methods used in these prisons are harsh and harm inmates
-Being in such intense isolation is damaging mentally
-It has been found that mental breakdowns often occur
-Guards typically use excessive force when dealing with inmates
-Risk of guard-inmate violence is high
-This type of handling is inhumane and is forbidden in the Bill of Rights
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