Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Mirko Bagaric and Jen Svilar (Swinburne Law School and University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Law, Students) have posted The Cruelty of Supermax Detention and the Case for a Hard-Time Sentencing Discount: A Pragmatic Solution to a Moral Shortcoming Which Is Otherwise Unlikely to Be Fixed (Santa Clara Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 1, 2020) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
We should send offenders to prison as punishment, not for punishment. This principle is currently being violated in relation to approximately 60,000 offenders who are caged in ‘supermax’ prison conditions in the United States. Many of these prisoners spend up to 23 years in a small cell with no contact with any person. The conditions are traumatic. Emerging evidence demonstrates that these conditions cause considerable psychological and physical harm to prisoners. Understandably, there are growing calls to abolish confinement of this nature. However, there are no signs that abolition of supermax conditions will occur soon. Despite this, it is incontestable that the deprivation experienced by prisoners can vary considerably, depending on the strictness of the prison regime in which the prisoner is confined. Prisoners subjected to supermax conditions suffer considerably more than those in conventional prison conditions. In this Article, we make recommendations regarding the manner in which prison conditions should impact the length of a prison term. We suggest that for most prisoners, every day spent in supermax conditions should result in two days’ credit towards the expiration of the prison term.