2000-01 ‘Supermax’ Detention Facilities

The National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry calls for the immediate closing of all ‘SUPERMAX’ detention facilities and the immediate suspension of the building of’ ‘SUPERMAX’ detention facilities in the United States.

The National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry is appalled by the continued use and construction of ‘SUPERMAX’ detention facilities both by Federal and State Criminal Justice Systems. The National Convocation recognizes the need for security and protection of some offenders housed with the various Federal and State detention facilities but feels that this security and protection can be achieved without the use of ‘SUPERMAX’ facilities which deny the basic human rights and needs of all individuals.

Studies and research, as well as eye witness accounts from those ministering within ‘SUPERMAX’ facilities demonstrate that: ‘SUPERMAX’ detention facilities tend to permanently segregate a resident from family and friends and even from other offenders within the same detention facility. Access to libraries, recreation fields and places, religious services, rehabilitation services, and legal counsel is severely diminished within ‘SUPERMAX’ facilities. ‘SUPERMAX’ detention facilities are constructed so that the residents are restricted from enjoying nature, outside fresh air, sky, or other natural elements conducive to rehabilitation. Many facilities are CAGE constructed further dehumanizing an individual. Security within ‘SUPERMAX’ facilities is shown to be excessive with daily strip searches of person and excessive search of property, shackling whenever a resident is moved from one area to another, extensive high walls, barb wire enclosures, and metal detectors throughout the facility.

Additional research has shown that incarceration within a ‘SUPERMAX’ detention facility has a very demoralizing effect on an individual and destroys possibilities for rehabilitation of an offender. The caged atmosphere is extremely detrimental to mental well being. All offenders, regardless of how long they are to be incarcerated, need to have all human necessities met during their period of detention. This should include but is not limited to medical and dental care, access to school, library privileges, access to religious services and counseling, access to recreational activity, and access to rehabilitative courses. In addition all offenders should be given the opportunity to perform meaningful work and enjoy outdoor activities within nature that all facilities can provide.

The National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry believes that all the above objectives can be met within a secure facility without the need for the high tech electronic surveillance, high extensive perimeter walls, barb wire and electronic fences, and the need for the dehumanizing of an individual through continuous strip searches of person and excessive search of possessions. The human privilege to community should not be abridged and the communication and visitation with family and friends should be encouraged by our Criminal Justice System.

The members and participants of The National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry will contact and dialogue with their Federal, State, and Local representatives to introduce bills and measures to see that all Federal and State ‘SUPERMAX’ facilities are shut down. Dialogue should also stress that all plans for construction of Federal and State ‘SUPERMAX’ facilities are abandoned within their legislative region.