Effect of Supermax Prisons on Aggregate Levels of Prison Violence: An Analysis of Short Time Series

Jody L. Sundt, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale
Thomas C. Castellano, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Chad S. Briggs, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

The primary thesis underlying the use of the supermaximum security prison (i.e., supermax) is that it will act as a "prison within a prison." Thus, it is argued that supermaxes will effectively incapacitate the most incorrigible inmates and provide a specific and general deterrent to future prison violence through the use of extreme levels of deprivation and control. The supermax prison has been advanced as a means to reduce aggregate levels of institutional violence and create safer prison environments for those who live and work in prison systems. This paper will examine the effect of supermax prisons on aggregate levels of prison violence in a sample of states from the Midwestern and Western regions of the United States. A multiple comparison group, time series design will be used and analyses appropriate for the examination of short time series will be employed.

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Updated 05/20/2006