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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter compares confinement conditions in American prisons today to those in the mid- to late twentieth century, and the reasons for this evolution. Other topics considered include changes in (a) inmate rights and privileges, (b) priorities placed on safety and management, (c) program availability, and (d) managerial controls over inmates (both coercive and remunerative). Also provided is an overview of improvements in prison architecture and technology (e.g., the construction of smaller prisons with heavier reliance on electronic surveillance) and of the movement to “professionalize” correctional officers. Important themes include the negative impact of rising prison populations on the delivery of medical and mental health services; the worsening physical health of prisoners; and greater use of long-term administrative segregation despite its possible influences on mental and physical deterioration.

Keywords: confinement conditions in American prisons, inmate rights, controls over inmates, correctional officers, health of prisoners

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