SUPERMAX PRISONS: ANOTHER CHAPTER IN THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE INCARCERATION CONUNDRUM

Author: 

H. Daniel butler, O. Hayden Griffin III, Grayson F. Knight

The American prison system has grown and expanded considerably over the past three decades. From 1977-2005, the amount of offenders entering prison increased by approximately 400 percent. Alongside the dramatic increase in the number of inmates came an increase in fiscal expenditures, totaling forty- three billion dollars spent in 2005 to maintain the imprisonment rates per year. What many researchers and policymakers often misunderstand, regarding the recent growth in imprisonment rates, is how and why the United States has incarcerated more offenders despite a relatively stable crime rate preceding the 1980s. This misconception has led to many assertions that the recent increase in incarceration rates occurred primarily because of a single variable, one example being an increase in young adult black males in the criminal justice system. However, these assertions may undermine other causal factors not identified within a particular study. Additionally, some criminological studies have methodological problems that hinder the reliability and accuracy of their findings. Increasingly, modern punitive laws and penal philosophies have assisted the widespread construction of super-maximum security prisons (“supermax”), because under these principles the amount of “problematic” inmates has increased. View More