Inmate lawsuits challenge NM's 'supermax' program

At least eight inmates have filed lawsuits against the NMCD over the issue of solitary confinement since January

The Santa Fe New Mexican

SANTA FE, NM — Most inmates in solitary confinement in the state prison system are part of something called the Predatory Behavioral Management Program, housed in the north section of the Penitentiary of New Mexico.

Inmates have a simpler term.

They call it “Supermax” or “The Box.”

Corrections Department spokesman S.U. Mahesh said the main purpose of the program is to isolate predatory inmates who are a danger to staff, other inmates and the public.

Approximately 260 prisoners are in the program. At least eight have filed lawsuits against Corrections Secretary David Jablonski or the Corrections Department over the issue of solitary confinement since January. Several of the complaints contend the practice is unconstitutional, retaliatory and allows the state to hold prisoners in solitary without recourse.

According to the Corrections Department, inmates in Levels I and II of the program must spend 23 hours per day in their cells. Those who show improvement in their behavior are moved to Levels III and IV, where they are allowed two to three hours outside their cells per day but still spend between 21 and 22 hours every day in isolation.

The department says inmates who are allowed time outside their cells may receive group drug counseling, anger management and other educational programs. Some inmates’ complaints dispute that.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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