I am completely against the proliferation of supermax prisons. Despite the fact that these people who are put in there are put with a reason I still think that this is not a final solution but instead it is a beginning of a bigger problem. The fact that these prisoners will one day be set free and come to join us is actually threatening after looking at the effects these super max prisons have on the victims.
I will want to discuss the effects of these as analyzed in `A Necessary Evil? ` By Vince Beiser
These super max prisons are turning prisoners into mental cases; the set up of these prisons is very different in terms of isolation and activities. Unlike other prisons including Maximum security prisons where inmates can play basketball, work in the laundry room or in the dining room, the super max prison one can hardly take in to any activity, there aren’t any jobs, nothing educational.
You are left alone and there is no human contact! One is locked in a room of 8 – by – 10 foot almost the whole time. One can not even see other prisoners or the prison guards. It is truly a cage of isolation. These places are meant for those prisoners who commit crimes while in prison and therefore can be as ‘prison in prison’
When one is left in such isolation for a long period, a lot of things are likely to happen affecting especially the psychology of the victim. ‘Psychiatrists, activists and some correctional officials say the intense isolation of supermaxes is producing prisoners who are uncontrollably furious and sometimes violently deranged. Most of those Prisoners will one day be set free.
In the past three years, in fact, Nearly 1,000 California SHU inmates at the end of their sentences were moved to less-restrictive prisons for just a few weeks, and then released’. As seen from Dr. Stuart study of effects of solitary confinement for a period longer than two decades, the examination was on more than one hundred super max prisons and his conclusion was: super max can literally drive inmates crazy.
The fact that there are many cases of people who never suffered psychiatric illnesses but once they went through super max prisons they developed such illness. This is enough good prove that these institutions are doing more harm than good. People going through these institutions are expected to come out worse than they were in the beginning.
Dr Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist based in Oakland who has many years of experience in prison work had this to say “I’ve almost never seen self-mutilation among adult males anywhere else, but it’s very common in SHUs.” At the landmark Madrid v. Gomez federal trial in 1995 over conditions at Pelican Bay, even the prison’s senior staff psychologist acknowledged seeing psychiatric deterioration among some SHU prisoners.
There are problems faced and experienced by the prison in the super max prisons such as hypersensitivity to external stimuli, paranoia and sometimes hallucinations. Prisoners some time develop panic attacks, hostile fantasies involving revenge, torture, mutulatuion and outbursts. This at times gets to higher extents and the prisoner can even gorge out their eyes, they can bite chucks of their own flesh…
The speech of one prisoner featured is “Matthew Lowe’ he confesses that in his years at the super max prison he only had a chance to speak to five or six people in the whole period of three years. He says that he just sat there and thought of doing something crazy all the time.
He has known that since then he has become paranoid and jumpy; ‘”So many times I’ve come so close to snapping since I got out,” he says. “One time in a store, someone cut in front of me in line—a 50-year-old guy, I don’t think he even realized it. I had to catch myself, because my first thought was just to smash him.”
An interview conducted to the other prisoners of the regular prisons support the fact that those in the supermax prisons are getting damaged psychologically was by Dr. Grassian. Almost all the inmates interviewed including one correctional officer admiited that other prisoners suffer serious mental deterioration in the SHU; they could be heard screaming, banging on doors cutting themselves.