The End of Mississippi's Notorious Supermax Unit

Even in a nation known for its draconian prison conditions and brutal lockdown units, the supermax portion of Mississippi’s state penitentiary stood out.  Critics and residents described it as a “horrific” and “wretched” place of “hopelessness and despair.” Or, as Chris Joyner described it last week in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger: Unit 32 was a nightmare, if sworn […]

Oregon Converts Supermax Unit to Treat Prisoners With Mental Illness

A reader recently called our attention to an article that appeared back in April in the Salem (Oregon) Statesman Journal, titled “Oregon State Penitentiary Adapts to Mental Illness.”   According to the Oregon Department of Corrections, about half of the state’s 14,000 prisoners— 6,797—are mentally ill. This is ten times greater than the population of the state’s primary psychiatric […]

Lessons from Solitary

Guest Post by David Chura Editors’ Note: David Chura has spent forty years working with–and writing about–“kids in the system”: at-risk children in foster care, group homes, homeless shelters, psych hospitals, drug rehab, special education, and alternative high schools, as well as in juvenile and adult corrections facilities. (Chura’s blog is kidsinthesystem.wordpress.com.) As a teacher in […]

Super-Secretive Supermax Prisons: Last Day to Register Opposition

We’ve written before about Communications Management Units, the federal prison wings where inmates are kept not only in solitary confinement but in a new type of extreme isolation, with severely curtailed ability to communicate with one another as well as with the outside world. The Bureau of Prisons now proposes to make these units permanent. Today is the last […]