This report represents the first effort to directly link conditions in Arizona’s supermax prisons with the state’s high recidivism rate.
Because the statistical evidence of this link is already available, the basis of this report is qualitative research conducted by an anthropologist, Dr. Brackette F. Williams, in which she interviewed newly released individuals who had spent a significant portion of their time in prison in supermax facilities. This research demonstrates the “why” and “how” of this causal relationship, illustrating the impacts of long-term solitary confinement on actual re-entry experiences.
The findings of this report are a wake-up call to corrections officials, state leaders, and social service agencies, who are often completely unaware of the prison experiences of their clients or how to assist them in this transition. AFSC hopes that this research will add to the growing body of evidence that the practice of long-term solitary confinement in supermax units creates more problems than it is purported to solve and should be abolished.
The release of this report coincides with the launch of Arizona is Maxed Out, a joint campaign with the ACLU of Arizona against the planned expansion of maximum-security prisons in Arizona. The latest state budget allocated $50 million to build 500 more maximum-security beds in the next two years.