Special administrative measures (SAMs) refers to the special rules that are applied to certain inmates especially those associated with violence, national security and terrorism. These types of inmates are considered to be very dangerous. These measures include monitoring and limiting an inmate’s telephone calls and any form of correspondence, restricting an inmate’s interview with the press, putting the inmate in isolation, and limiting the inmate’s privilege to receive visitors (Martin, 2004).
These measures are put in place to protect people from serious bodily harm or death especially if the victims are associated with terrorism or acts of violence (Martin, 2004). In case the inmate is associated with national security, these measures are put in place to prevent the inmates from disclosing classified information (Martin, 2004). Generally, such inmates have increased limitations and are under greater scrutiny compared to other inmates.
The measures are so strict that in most circumstances the communications between the inmates and their attorneys are monitored in case the attorneys are used by the inmates to communicate with other criminals (Martin, 2004). The decision to place an inmate under special administrative measures is arrived at following a written request from the Attorney General to the director of Bureau of Prisons following advice by the intelligence agencies (Martin, 2004). There are several functions of SAMs and these can be classified as overt and covert purposes.
The overt purposes relate to protection of the general public from harm by restricting an inmate’s contact with the outside world which is an avenue that the inmate can use to perpetrate violence or terrorism. One of the covert purposes is use of the monitored information for investigative purposes for example if an inmate is directing terrorism from the cell (Martin, 2004). Another covert purpose is to protect the public from anxiety which can result following disclosure of information about national security.