Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Marion Prison Lockdown

This is an aerial view of the USP Marion Penitentiary in Illinois. It is one of the two highest security prisons in America. It houses up to 814 inmates and is also home to the now infamous lock down that occurred in 1983. As a result of two stabbings against guards the entire prison was in a state of 24 hour lock down. After this the warden declared a state of emergency and the prison has remained in a permanent state of lock down ever since. The prisoners are in their cells for 23 hours every day with just one hour for showers and limited exercise. A standard cell is just eight by ten feet and inmates are required to eat, drink, sleep and defecate in them. Standard vocational and educational activities are virtually non existent. This is one example of completely legal solitary confinements where the health of the people concerned is not measured and not even of concern.

At most other prisons lock downs may last several days to several weeks, however are Marion, the lock down is permanent. The entire prison has been made into a 'control unit' where the objective is absolute physical and psychological control over the prisoners.

10 comments:

Mark said...

This seems like a really interesting topic, as humans are social beings and the effects of solitary confinement would be significant i would imagine.

Here's a journal article on solitary confinement that may be useful for you:
"The psychological effects of solitary confinement: An early instance of psychology in South African courts". BY: Louw, Johann
O'Brien, Catherine, From: the Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection database.

Ali said...

Thanks for that mark. I think the different effects of solitary confinement within different cultures will be a great topic to explore and so this article will be interesting!

graham said...

very interesting topic indeed. i never knew a prison like that existed. i had heard of lockdowns before but not a permanent one.

i would be interested to see how successful it is locking people in solitary confinement almost all day? i would think it would make me more agggressive and non-compliant. or maybe it would make you develop learned helplessness like that dog experiment that we have learned about.

Mike said...

Hey Ali,

Hearing about prison's like that and watching t.v shows like Oz and prisonbreak has definitely put me off crime! I would go crazy in a situation like that, I doubt I'd last more than a few days!

Josie said...

Hi Ali
This was really interesting, I had never even heard of the marion prison lockdown before reading your post. I think that it is horrible that the prisoners are being treated this way . I know that they may have done bad things in the past but they are still humans and therefore I believe should have rights. It is unfair that because of the actions of a few prisoners that all of them have to suffer. It is horrible to think that there are people just sitting there in a cell for 23hrs a day, I thought the idea of prison was to criminals away from society while they are being rehabilitated, but it seems that no one in the marion prison will be given that chance.
Anyway good luck with all your blogging :)

Sam Taylor said...

I agree with Josie's comments on the issue of the permanent lockdown. Maybe a 24-48 hr lockdown is acceptable, but instead of this the prison has simply chosen to drop down to the one or two prisoner's levels. How are these prisoners going to be rehabilitated?

Ali said...

I think that these inmates are imprisoned for the term of their natural life and some are on death row, however I still don't believe that this makes it 'ok'.
I really struggle with the concept that some people have to power to dictate how people live their lives and also when to end another persons life. I don't agree with capital punishment because in a way - doesn't that make the sentencing judge or jury just the same as a convicted murderer by taking another person life?

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