Supermax prisons impact the confined mentally, physically, and emotionally. Supermax prisons are more interested in punishing, rather than rehabilitating. When prisoners are kept in a cell, alone, and without sunlight and human interaction, psychological effects occur. People evolve and change in these surroundings over time. They begin lose all societal values and norms because they are behind bars. Kupers discussed the experiment that was performed at Stanford by Professor Haney. A group of students acted out a prison sequence for a psychology experiment. Those assigned as guards started acting sadistic because of their power and domination over the prisoners. This experiment showed that the psychiatric side of prisons is very scary, because even rational and intelligent students can change in these certain settings. Anthropologically, Rhodes actually placed herself in the prison setting. In the form of an ethnography report, Rhodes wanted to truly report what was happening in the prison system by becoming apart of the Supermax. This is different than the other two articles because Rhodes actually became apart of it. She wasn’t merely observing. Rhodes spoke to both prisoners and guards, and shows the entire picture of the Supermax. Rhodes also uses a lot of sociological concepts like Erving Goffman’s “backstage” philosophy when observing the prisoners. In real life, we all have a “backstage” self. This is the self that we don’t let the real world see. However prisoners don’t have a backstage/frontstage self due to their surroundings and limited access to things like make-up, clothing, etc. O’Keefe, a social scientist, used statistics and research to show whether or not solitary confinement (segregation) was harmful to the individual.. This approach was very different from Rhodes and Kupers approach, because it is solely based on statistics and scientific research methods and not personal involvement. I never realized that confinement in these prisons is seriously harmful because it strips human beings of their natural human abilities. It is less of a rehabilitation tactic and appears to be more of a punishment than anything else.
Posted on September 23, 2008 by lswarts