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Supermax: controlling risk through solitary confinement

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This book examines the rise and proliferation of ‘supermax’ prisons in the United States since the late 1980s. It describes the daily reality of life for the tens of thousands of prisoners labelled the ‘worst of the worst’ in the American prison system and subjected to strict solitary confinement and extreme measures of control, inspection and surveillance in these prisons. It asks why solitary confinement, which had been discredited in the past, is now proposed as the solution for dealing with ‘difficult’, ‘dangerous’ or ‘disruptive’ prisoners. Drawing on unique access to supermax prisons and on in‐depth interviews— with prison officials, prison architects, current and former prisoners, mental health professionals, penal, legal and human rights experts, the book offers a comprehensive review of the theory, practice and consequences of these prisons.

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