Supermax Prisons: Their Rise, Current Practices, and Effect on Inmates

Jesenia Pizarro, Vanja M.K. Stenius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


In recent years, a number of new approaches in corrections have developed, one of which is the super-maximum, or “supermax,” prison. This article explores the roots of these institutions, explains how they operate, and examines their potential effects on inmate populations. The extant empirical research on supermax facilities suggests that these institutions have the potential to damage inmates’ mental health while failing to meet their purported goals (e.g., deterring inmates in the general prison population from committing criminal acts inside prison), resulting in added problems for correctional administrators and increased economic costs to public budgets without apparent benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-264
Number of pages17
JournalThe Prison Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • administrative segregation
  • prison administration
  • solitary confinement
  • supermax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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