editing and comment by
Dr. Bruce Henry Lambert
with links to various resources
|Control unit prisons go by various names and nicknames:
Administrative Maximum, ADX, Supermax, "permanent lockdown," "the Big One," etc.
Prisons, of course, are built on an effort to control. But is it reasonable that people are confined in solitary rooms away from all human contact? How much thought has been put into alternatives? Such facilities seem clearly outside the domain of a 'Department of Corrections' - the treatment does not involve correction but only punishment, and maybe torture.
Many Americans find nothing wrong with torturing dangerous convicts - others find it barbaric. In any case, the USA has signed international treaties of human rights that forbid inflicting severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, as punishment. What purpose is served by the severe isolation and starkness of the Administrative Maximum (Control Unit) prison?
The following links provide background on how such prisons operate:
Analysis of Super-Max Confinement by Human Rights Watch
American Friends Service Committee's National Campaign to Stop Control Unit Prisons
Prison Activist Resource Center's "Control Unit Prisons: Shut Them Down!"
Gretchen Kaufman: "To Lessen Crime, We Have To Look Beyond Prisons"
"From Alcatraz to Marion to Florence - Control Unit Prisons in the United States"
Reuters report on ADX Florence: "Unabomber begins life sentence in 'the Big One'"
Worklife for guards is also problematic:
Guestbook for the correctional worker's union at ADX Florence
or homepage, Local 1302 of the American Federation of Government Employees
Alan Prendergast reports for Westword on problems at ADX Florence
"A Broken Code: The supermax snitch unit was supposed to bust prison gangs, but who was really rolling over?"
"Illinois Opens 'Supermax' Control Unit Prison in Tamms"
Super-Max in Virginia: Red Onion State Prison by Human Rights Watch
Cold Storage: Super-Max in Indiana by Human Rights Watch
Fay Dowker and Glenn Good: "The Proliferation of Control Unit Prisons in the United States"