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The Treatment of the Mentally Ill in Supermax Facilities: An Evaluation of State Supermax Policies

H. Daniel Butler, W. Wesley Johnson, and O. Hayden Griffin III
Criminal Justice and Behavior; November 2014, vol. 41, no. 11, 1338-1353

Abstract
As a criminal justice policy, researchers have encountered numerous problems attempting to evaluate whether supermax confinement achieves its desired goals. Among the many goals of supermax confinement is the incapacitation of the “worst of the worst” inmates. This type of custody, however, has been widely criticized for worsening inmate mental health. In an effort to better understand the treatment of the mentally ill in supermax confinement, we performed a content analysis on 42 state correctional policies. We found considerable variation exists regarding the treatment of the mentally ill as prescribed by official policies and that the majority of correctional policies dictate some level of treatment or intervention for supermax inmates. As criticism regarding the indefinite use of lockdown increases, we argue it is important correctional departments have a foundation that protects inmates and the agency itself, which begins with official policies..

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