Prison–industrial complex - Wikipedia
From Prison to Home: The Effect of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families, In a related project, Harrison () found that male inmates who Evaluations of visitation programs underscore the benefits of these efforts. . To date, little is known about either the short-term consequences of this. This essay opens with a discourse of what prisons are in general, looks at analysis and evaluation made by scholars, criminologists, and. Men in prison with any mental disorder were times . disappointing results to date, larger studies are needed to fully evaluate the efficacy of.
Numbers based on admissions with new sentences and do not include returns to prison for technical parole violations. Prison sentences tend to be longest for persons convicted of violent offenses, and many older prisoners were convicted of such crimes see subsection below. But mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders can also lead to long prison terms that will increase the aging prison population.
For example, Weldon Angelos was sentenced at age 25 to 55 years in federal prison for selling marijuana, money laundering, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Atiba Parker, for example, was convicted in Mississippi of two counts of sale of cocaine and one count of possession of cocaine when he was He received a total of three sentences that run consecutively for a total of 42 years. Twenty-nine when he was sentenced, his projected release date iswhen he will be The earliest he can be released will be when he is 87 years old.
For example, Bonnie Frampton, now 76, entered prison when she was Convicted of conspiracy for murder, she has a year sentence. She entered prison when she was 53 with a year sentence. They are thus more likely to be growing older behind bars, fueling the aging prison population.
As shown in Table 5, half of all state prisoners at year-end had been convicted of violent crimes. A higher percentage of prisoners age 55 and older State Prisoners by Offense and Age, Source: The number of men and women who are already 55 years or older when entering prison for violent crimes also augurs continued growth in the number of older prisoners.
As shown in Table 6, about one-quarter 26 percent of persons entering state prison with new sentences in had been convicted of violent crimes, including Based on data from 30 states reporting prison admissions for Ted Coombs, age 66, entered prison in Washington state when he was 56, convicted of attempted second degree murder. He had been a postman all his life and this is his first time in prison.
His sentence runs untilwhen he will be His spinal cord was severed from a bullet that was shot during the incident that led to his conviction; he is paralyzed below the chest and uses a wheelchair.
For example, inthe average maximum sentence for state offenders for all offenses was 60 months, and the average time served before release for all offenses was 29 months; that is, the time served was less than half the maximum sentence. In they served an average of 40 percent of the maximum sentence; by they served an average of In New York, 28 percent of those currently age 60 or over have been in prison continuously for 20 or more years.
Among inmates in that age group, 7. There are 22 prisoners who are currently 70 years or older who have 20 or more years to serve before their earliest possible release date. That is, they will be at least 90 years old before being eligible for release. Of the inmates age 60 or over, 77 percent are incarcerated for violent felonies, compared to 62 percent for inmates under Not surprisingly, the older inmates are serving longer sentences on average: Twenty-one percent of older inmates were serving life sentences, compared to only 8.
Sixty-two percent of those age 50 or older are serving sentences of 10 years or longer and 28 percent are serving life sentences. Since the s, the use of life sentences, including life with no possibility of release life without parole  has increased markedly. According to The Sentencing Project, the number of offenders serving life sentences in state prisons quadrupled between andincreasing from 34, toFrom federal lifers inthe number grew to 4, ina ten-fold increase.
Those serving life without parole will certainly do so. As shown above in Table 3, 75, men and women—almost one in ten 9. In some states the proportion of prisoners with life sentences is far greater: Nationally, however, the median is 25 years.
Lifers entering prison in could expect to serve an average of 29 years before release, time during which they could age considerably. For example, as shown in Table 4 above, 2, state prisoners in were between the ages of 51 and 60 when they entered prison with life sentences not including life without parole or life plus additional years. They thus entered prison with a slim likelihood that they would be released before their late seventies or eighties.
In some cases, parole boards will simply never agree to parole, and if they do, their decision may be reversed by the governor. As can be seen from data in Table 3 above, as of at least 11, state prisoners were serving sentences of life without parole or life plus additional years; that is, they have been sentenced to life behind bars until they die.
The frequency of life without parole varies markedly among states: In Louisiana, a state in which all life sentences lack the possibility of parole, one of every nine Pennsylvania, another LWOP-only state, incarcerates 9.
Nationally, there are nine states in which more than 5 percent of persons in prison are serving an LWOP sentence. On the other end of the spectrum, 15 states incarcerate less than 1 percent of person in prison for LWOP. He received a years-to-life sentence, which means he will be 88 before he is eligible to be considered for release.
He is currently housed in a special prison unit for incarcerated men with dementia and other severe cognitive impairments.
Because the federal system does not have parole, federal prisoners with life sentences have no prospect of release in their lifetime. Among persons serving life without the possibility of parole in the United States are persons sentenced for crimes committed before the age of Human Rights Watch estimates that there are approximately 2, of these youth offenders in the United States who will spend the rest of their lives in prison. As shown in Table 7, the number of persons entering state prison as new court commitments at the age of 55 years or older grew percent between and In the same period, the number of all new commitments increased by 9.
The variations between individual years are significant and suggest caution in interpreting the data, but the overall trend is nonetheless clear. Bureau of Justice Statistics, annual tables from National Corrections Reporting Program Series, Data from individual states further illustrates the growing proportion of inmates entering prison for crimes committed at age 50 or above: In Florida, the proportion of new prison admissions who were age 50 or over rose from 4.
The proportion of new court commitments who were 50 years of age or older increased from 3. Table 8 shows that between andthe number of prisoners age 51 and older grew from 14, to 25, a 76 percent increase. In contrast, during those years the total federal prison population grew fromto , an increase of Between andthe annual number of persons entering federal prison at age 61 or over grew by 50 percent, although the total number of new admissions in that period increased by only Federal Prisoners by Age, to Source: Based on year-end numbers.
Includes only prisoners committed to federal prison for violations of federal criminal law; commitments from the District of Columbia Superior Court are excluded.
The Aging Prison Population in the United States | HRW
Includes only prisoners committed to federal prison in for violations of federal criminal law; commitments from the District of Columbia Superior Court are excluded.
The long sentences being served by many federal prisoners suggest the number of older federal prisoners will continue growing. Among federal prisoners in7, are serving sentences ranging from 30 years to life. Another 12, have sentences of 20 to 30 years. As shown in Table 9, although the preponderance Obviously, many of them will grow much older before released, if they do not die in prison. Others entered federal prison in before they had reached the age of 50, but because of the length of their sentences will also not leave prison until their sixties, seventies, or beyond.
The federal system eliminated parole in As noted above, all of the 4, federal prisoners with life sentences in can be expected to age and eventually die in prison. Conditions of Confinement In general, the older people are, the more barriers they have to an active, independent life, the greater their physical and mental health needs, and the harder it is for them to live and function with dignity.
The difficulties can be even greater for those elderly who are in prison. Prisons are primarily designed for the young and able-bodied; it takes additional effort on the part of corrections officials to meet the needs and respect the rights of the old and infirm.
Older prisoners, like all prisoners, have the right to be treated with respect for their humanity and inherent human dignity; to not be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; to receive appropriate medical and mental healthcare; to have reasonable accommodation for their disabilities; and to be provided activities and programs to support their rehabilitation.
More precisely, it is not so much age in the abstract that determines how officials should treat individual prisoners, but their physical and mental conditions. A certain decline in general physical and mental capabilities is highly correlated with advancing years. There is also considerable overlap between persons who are aging and those who are chronically, seriously, or terminally ill or incapacitated.
As persons age, they are at increasing risk of developing various illnesses and disabilities see discussion below in Chapter IV. During our visits to state prison systems, corrections personnel—including high-ranking central office staff, wardens, corrections officers, doctors, and nurses—insisted they were committed to ensuring the older men and women in their charge received the care and treatment they needed, albeit within the limitation of what is possible and permissible in prison.
While this report does not evaluate the extent to which the human rights of older prisoners were respected in any given facility, there is no doubt that many older prisoners suffer from violations of their rights. Our conversations with corrections professionals, advocates, and prison experts nationwide leads us to believe the problems in the states we visited are replicated to a greater or lesser degree throughout the country. Limited resources, resistance to changing longstanding rules and policies, lack of support from elected officials, as well as insufficient internal attention to the unique needs and vulnerabilities of older prisoners, all lead to inadequate protection for the rights of the elderly.
As prison professionals themselves acknowledged to Human Rights Watch, individual incidents of neglect, mistreatment, and even cavalier disregard for the well-being of aging and vulnerable inmates occur.
Four had extended bouts of amnesia. He thought it resembled anoxic brain injury — the result of an oxygen-starved brain — or delirium tremens, suffered by dipsomaniacs in the throes of alcohol withdrawal. But the symptoms also recalled a curious set of Cold War-era experiments that Grassian had read about years before.
They experienced spatial disorientation whenever they left their cell. Meanwhile, researchers on a Californian army base confined soldiers to soundproof isolation chambers for four days, after which they observed that their test subjects became hyper-attentive to stimuli. All these situations were analogous to solitary confinement, by reducing sensory inputs or creating isolating circumstances. But these ideas first found shape in stone and mortar with the opening of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia in As its name and its vaulted, sky-lit cells suggested, the Philadelphia penitentiary intended to reform prisoners by enforced monkish solitude, repentance and rehabilitation.
Inmates ate, slept, and worked in individual cells. They exercised in a private yard once a day, and were given a single book to read: In the same year, Reich, a clinician in southwest Germany, observed a distinct psychic malady developing among some isolated prisoners awaiting trial.
His face takes on an astonished expression, the gaze is vacant and indefinite. Inthe testimony of James J Medley, an isolated prisoner on death row in Colorado, inspired a landmark decision by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Freeman Miller, who subsequently released the prisoner.
In his judgment, Justice Miller observed: Constructed after a decade of riots and prison-guard slayings, these free-standing facilities entirely composed of single-cell units are designed to minimise contact between prison guards and inmates.
Of the 81, prisoners in solitary today, approximately 25, are in supermaxes. Supermaxes embody a transition in prison policy over the past 30 years, from rehabilitation to a punitive ideology that emphasises stricter regulations, harsher punishment, and tougher sentences. They are carceral citadels that recall army bases with their remote locations and soaring electrified perimeter fences, and they star in a kind of security theatre intended to make the public feel safer.
Inside, cells are typically laid out in narrow rows radiating from a central tower. From these eyries, correctional officers control the doors, lights, and temperatures of every unit.
Verbal communication takes place over an intercom system, and moments of contact are fleeting and often brutal: America got its first proto-supermax in Inthe warden designated Block D, an isolation unit, for troublemakers inside the prison, the worst of the worst of the worst.
Prisoners were isolated in their cells for 23 hours a day, and they were denied exercise and communal dining. States across the country followed suit. Between andthe number of prisoners in supermax beds soared by 40 per cent nationally, to 20, — almost 1.
This upward tick was mirrored in the number of prisoners being consigned to solitary. By44 states had some form of supermax housing, and the number of inmates in them had risen to its present-day tally of 25, The numbers are notoriously difficult to track.
Not all supermax-type facilities are classified as such, and in prisons and jails, solitary confinement goes by various appellations. In the public imagination, these sentences are handed to ruthless mass-murderers on death row, not a humble stoner such as King, or the perpetrators of the kinds of offences enumerated in inmate misbehaviour reports: They hallucinated, threw faeces at the guards, and howled through the night; in response, they received punishment, not treatment As heterogeneous as supermax facilities are, they have a few things in common.
They all cost two or three times as much to construct and maintain as maximum-security prisons, and prisoners released directly from them — and restricted housing circumstances in general — are found to have an elevated chance of finding their way back, particularly through violent recidivism. In recent years, supermaxes have incited a number of lawsuits for being dirty, dangerous, and for having inadequate mental health services. Terry Kupers, an Oakland-based forensic psychiatrist, has evaluated the psychological conditions of hundreds of isolated prisoners for several such lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union ACLU against prison authorities.
A recent case involving death row inmates in Unit 32, a supermax facility in Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, sparked off a change of heart among prison officials, and something of a national trend. When Kupers evaluated the residents in Unit 32 inwhich reeked of malfunctioning toilets, he found that about of them had severe undiagnosed or misdiagnosed mental illnesses.
They hallucinated, threw faeces at the guards, and howled through the night; in response, they received punishment, not treatment. After listening to the accounts of inmates who described the facility as a hellhole and insane asylum, the prison authorities gradually reduced the segregated population from 1, toupon which violence plummeted by 70 per cent.
The Mississippi experience led to a re-examination of the rationale behind solitary confinement in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Ohio and Washington.
Maine cut its segregated population by almost 60 per cent, and made it onerous to keep a prisoner in confinement for more than 72 hours. Half the successful suicides in prison happen in solitary In Junein a packed hearing held before the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois spoke out against solitary confinement, and engaged in a fiery debate with the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The Senate was shown a life-size replica of a 7ft x 10ft SHU, and heard the testimony of former isolated inmates and prison officials in Mississippi. In Februarythe Federal Bureau of Prisons announced that it was undertaking an audit of the practice; by November, it had announced it would visit 13 isolation units during As this essay is published a second Senate Committee Hearing on solitary confinement is in motion.
It also echoes a study in Criminal Justice and Behavior by David Lovell, who found that nearly half of all isolated prisoners in a Washington State supermax prison had serious mental illness or brain damage. Such studies still leave important questions unanswered: Does isolation damage or transform the brain? Grassian is convinced that both are true — the first, from his research, and the second, from his experiences visiting hundreds of prisoners in isolation units across the country.
InGrassian went on a tour through the SHU of Attica, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, which brought that message home especially forcefully. This is the sickest of the sick! Inat the age of 23, he shot two deputy sheriffs escorting him to a hearing. One was wounded; the other died. Billy, who has lived this way for more than half his life, perceives boredom in the multispectral way that the mantis shrimp, which has a dozen receptors, sees colour.
Billy is a trim, sinewy-faced man wearing black prison boots and a petroleum-green prison uniform, which, he informs me with pride, conceals six-pack abs. A snack machine rumbles in a corner, and facing us, on an elevated concrete plinth, is a correctional officer the colour of fresh factory-farmed beef, poring over a newspaper while he pretends not to listen.
I probably looked like a cherry with veins. I felt like I was floating. From morning to night, as Billy watched, envelopes of excrement went from one side to the other, careering past his cell like hockey pucks flying into a revolting space-time dimension.
Old Behind Bars
Most of the projectiles landed, and remained, just outside his cell door. After several days, he yelled: At night, they slept in shifts. After weeks of sleeping in snatches, he staggered out into the yard during recreation time one morning and built himself a small mound of snow to sleep in for an hour. He looked like a skeleton with a black tarp pulled around him. The Plexiglas window of his cell was smeared with shit. But the Box, with its stress and monotony, has been slowly, inexorably reshaping all their brains.
You are where you live. How you live shapes who you are. We owe a debt to the Canadian neuropsychologist Donald O Hebb for proving these aphorisms right down to the neurone. InHebb took a few rat pups home for his children to play with. When these pups grew older and hairier, and were less welcome darting about the furniture, he brought them back to his McGill University lab, where they outsmarted cage-reared rats in problem-solving tests. They were also visibly well-adjusted, unlike cage-bound compatriots who groomed themselves until their whiskers dropped off, and had balding patches all over their bodies.
The neuroscientist Mark Rosenzweig showed that, when compared with rat packs that roved in rodent McMansions filled with ladders, tunnels and toys, animals that languished in spartan, supermax-style cages had fewer connections between neurons and thinner cerebral cortexes. Marian Diamond, a colleague of Rosenzweig, showed that various types of enriched or impoverished environmental exposures could alter the dimensions and even the cellular content of the cortex at any age from newborn to elderly.
Even four days of impoverished environment could have an impact on the physiology of the cortex and its ability to navigate the world. These were stunning discoveries. This dime-thick, intricate surface runs across the two hemispheres of our brain.
The Berkeley experiments showed that, at least for rats, social interactions and surroundings are inscribed in the neurophysiology of the brain, and not just during the early part of life. As years passed, an irrefutable body of work in a range of species established that social interactions across complex terrain could nourish and boost the brain, while impoverished surroundings diminished it in every stage of life.
By the s, the neuroscientist Fernando Nottebohm of Rockefeller University was reporting the growth of new neurons whenever adult songbirds learnt new songs. Later, he examined the sea-horse-shaped hippocampus, a seat of spatial memory, in the brains of adult black-capped chickadees. Captive chickadees, he found, generated fewer new neurons in their hippocampi compared with counterparts from the wild.
Bya team at the Salk Institute in California had connected social interaction and play to improved episodic memory and mood — and enhanced desire to venture out and explore.
To do their work, the Salk team corralled 12 mice in a lavishly equipped cage fitted with tunnels, toys, and a running wheel, while a control group of four mice were consigned to a plastic box shanty. A month later, the mice were thrown into a Morris maze — a circular tub of water with a submerged platform in the middle. Meanwhile, two matching groups of mice were injected with a chemical marker that stained new neurons red.
Compared with their confined counterparts, mice in the enriched environment had hippocampi teeming with many more brain cells, including neurons and astroglia, which help new neurons survive.
Of special note, the enriched mice had 57 per cent more new nerve cells in their dentate gyrus — a corner of the hippocampus that helps consolidate episodic memory, control depression and stress, and spur exploration of new environments. But what was it about isolation and confinement that caused the brain to become impoverished?
Inthe Princeton neuroscientist Elizabeth Gould and postdoctoral researcher Alexis Stranahan inadvertently stumbled upon a clue while investigating a paradox: Yet a raft of studies consistently showed that exercise was a fail-safe way of enhancing the growth of new neurons in the adult brain. To investigate, Stranahan and Gould took adult rats, housed separately, and had them scrabble around running wheels. Then Stranahan killed the rats and examined their brains under the microscope.
She was dismayed to find no increase in neurogenesis in spite of the exercise. Isolation had caused levels of the hormone to spike so high that, instead of proliferating, neurons were dying off. Shriveled dendrites in the hippocampus have also been observed in humans suffering from dementia, chronic depression, schizophrenia and PTSD At the root of all of this, it turns out, is stress itself.