Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Supermax Incarceration and Recidivism

Supermax Incarceration and Recidivism

Mears, Daniel P., and William D. Bales. 2009. “Supermax incarceration and recidivism.” Criminology: An Interdisciplinary Journal 47, no. 4: 1131-1166. PsycINFO, EBSCOhost (accessed April 9, 2018).

The authors of this article tested the effects of supermax housing (defined as placing people in permanent lockdown, confined in their single-person cell with few, if any, privileges) on three-year recidivism outcomes. Using data from the Florida Department of Corrections, the goal of this study “was to contribute to theory and research on prisoner reentry and offending as well as to provide scholarship aimed at understanding the effects of supermax incarceration.” The authors found that those who had been housed in supermax were much more likely to commit a violent crime after release. This finding demonstrates a lack of evidence for the “substantial specific deterrent effect of supermax incarceration.” The authors then “discuss the findings and their implications for theory, research, and policy.”

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Keywords: disciplinary segregation, administrative segregation, restrictive housing, restricted housing, segregation, segregated housing, isolation, torture, discrimination, segregated housing and mental health, supermax, incarceration, reentry, recidivism