Prison Conditions in the United States

The United States imprisons more than a million of its citizens at any given time, a larger number than anyother country. After visits to more than twenty institutions in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including state, INS, and federal prisons as well as jails, Human Rights Watch concludes that the most troubling aspect of the human rights situation in U.S. prisons could be labelled "Marionization." Thirty-six states have followed the example of the maximum-security federal prison in Marion, Illinois, to create super maximum-security institutions. As a result, inmates are essentially sentenced twice: once by the court, to a certain period of imprisonment; and a second time, by the prison administration to confinement in maxi-maxis under extremely harsh conditions and without independent supervision. The increasing use of "prisons within prisons" leads to numerous human rights abuses and frequent violations of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.