The Use of Supermax
The Supermax is a term used to define a correctional facility that highest the form of security and custody systems in the United States and other countries. These facilities were developed to incarcerate criminals that were considered as high risk for long periods. It is important to note that not every criminal is sent to a Supermax facility; “it is only those that pose a threat to both the country’s security and also international security” (Shalev, 2009, p. 65). Also incarcerated in these facilities are criminals whose crimes have been publicized by the media. Supermax facilities are not efficient in correcting the criminals incarcerated in them.
Supermax facilities end up locking up a criminal from any form of civilization where they can adapt good behavior from. What then happens is that most of the criminals end up influencing each other as they try to prove who the best is. Sad to note is that their way of proving their prowess is by becoming worse criminals than they were before imprisonment. This is one of the reasons why there are numerous cases of murders in Supermax facilities.
When the Supermax facilities were created it was to mete out tough form of punishment to hardcore criminals. Ironically these facilities have been turned to something to boast about in the prison world. Hardcore criminals want to be considered tough by their fellow criminals and going to a Supermax facility helps prove this toughness. This means that most hardcore criminals, especially those on life imprisonment, find being sent to Supermax facilities as a sign of earning respect from their colleagues.
Just like the Supermax, the death penalty was introduced to be a punishment for those people who committed capital offences. However in recent times, the death penalty has been getting stiff opposition from organizations such as churches who feel that no person has the right to dictate when another person’s life ends. This argument is valid not only morally but also legally. This is because in the United States constitution every citizen has a right to life; this hence means that by killing these capital offenders they are being denied of this fundamental right. On the other hand, those for the death penalty believe it should not be abolished based on various arguments; one of which is that capital offenders do not have any rights. The argument here is that these offenders have killed people for them to be sentenced to death. This is very true, based on the simple reasoning that why should a person who doesn’t respect life have their life respected?
The death penalty was meant to serve as a deterrent to other people from committing similar crimes as those being executed. However all that has lost meaning in this period and worst of all is that at times the execution of a capital offender results in their gaining popularity. One such case is that of “ousted Iraq President Saddam Hussein who ended up becoming more of a hero after his execution than he was before he was ousted from power” (Garland, 2010, p. 24). This shows that a new correctional method needs to be developed for capital offenders as the death penalty is no longer serving its intended purpose.
The Ban on execution of the Mentally Retarded and Juveniles
Even as the debate on the death penalty continues, most countries (including the United States) have banned execution of mentally retarded people and minors. According to Bedau and Cassell (2005, p. 39), the United States has extended the lowest age that a person can be executed to be eighteen years. This is a good move and the reasoning behind it is rational and moral. This is because most of the mentally retarded and juveniles have no mental capacity to make rational decisions like normal human beings. In most cases, especially in the mentally retarded, they act more out of emotion than reason. This means that a person who commits a crime when mentally retarded should not be punished for that crime as they had no mental capability to know they were committing a crime. The same reasoning applies for juveniles based on the fact they also are not able to make rational decisions on their own.
However is some countries such as China, there have been reported some few cases of minors being executed based on the argument that they should also pay for their crimes. This argument lacks basis in the sense that the main intention of punishing someone, even outside a prison, is to let them know that they are suffering for their wrongdoing. So how is possible to do the same with the mentally handicapped and juveniles while they can’t understand why they are being punished. In short this just means that the mentally handicapped or juvenile will just see it as suffering rather than as a consequence of their actions. This is why it is only right to ban the execution of these tow categories of people: minors and the mentally handicapped.
Bedau, H.A. & Cassell, P.G. (2005). Debating the Death Penalty. New York: OUP.
Garland, D. (2010). Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition.
Boston: Harvard University Press.
Shalev, S. (2009). Supermax: Controlling Risk Through Solitary Confinement. New Jersey: