Twenty years ago, a new kind of prison was taking America by storm. The supermax prison was designed to incapacitate dangerous criminals by locking them down in stark isolation, sometimes for years on end. So have the supermaxes lived up to their promise of stopping violent criminals?
Supermax prisons are places of stark isolation, where some of the most dangerous convicts are housed. At Pelican Bay prison in California, the men in the Supermax are locked in windowless cells for 22 or 23 hours a day, with almost no direct contact with other inmates or staff. Officials say most of them are members of prison gangs.
In California's Pelican Bay State Prison, gang leaders are busy generating money for their operations and preparing parolees for a life of crime. CIR and Michael Montgomery teamed up for this report on the prison gangs that control crime on the outside from behind bars.