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What problems do America's prisons face? Who is in America's prisons? Are prisoners treated humanely? Do prison alternatives work? Providing uncomplicated answers to these complicated questions is no easy task. This collection of pro versus con essays offers the solution; there are many sides to every story and it's best to take a look at all before forming a well-rounded opinion. Readers will evaluate divergent viewpoints from sources such as Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, David M. Reutter, Morris B. Hoffman, Jakub Wrzesniewski, and Megan Quattlebaum.
Long Term Offenders, or LTOs, is the state's term for those it condemns to effective death by imprisonment. Often serving sentences of sixty to eighty years,LTOs bear the brunt of the bipartisan embrace of mass incarceration heralded by the "tough on crime" agenda of the 1990s and 2000s. Like the rest of the UnitedStates' prison population--the world's highest per capita--they are disproportionately poor and non-white.The Long Term brings these often silenced voices to light, offering a powerful indictment of the prison-industrial complex from activists, scholars, and those directly surviving and resisting these sentences. In showing the devastation caused by a draconian prison system, the essays also highlight the humanity and courage of the people most affected.This striking collection of essays gives voice to people both inside and outside prison struggling for liberation, dismantles claims that the "tough on crime"agenda and LTO sentencing keep us safe, and reveals the white supremacism and patriarchy upon which the prison system rests.
As former staffer to Robert F. Kennedy and current Georgetown law professor Peter Edelman explains in Not a Crime to Be Poor, Ferguson is everywhere in America today. Through money bail systems, fees and fines, strictly enforced laws and regulations against behaviour including trespassing and public urination that largely affect the homeless, and the substitution of prisons and jails for the mental hospitals that have traditionally served the impoverished, in one of the richest countries on Earth we have effectively made it a crime to be poor.
In 1991, Shaka Senghor was sent to prison for second-degree murder. Today, he is a lecturer at universities, a leading voice on criminal justice reform, and an inspiration to thousands. In life, it's not how you start that matters. It's how you finish. Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle class neighborhood on Detroit's east side during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor--but at age 11, his parents' marriage began to unravel, and the beatings from his mother worsened, sending him on a downward spiral that saw him run away from home, turn to drug dealing to survive, and end up in prison for murder at the age of 19, fuming with anger and despair. Writing My Wrongs is the story of what came next. During his nineteen-year incarceration, seven of which were spent in solitary confinement, Senghor discovered literature, meditation, self-examination, and the kindness of others--tools he used to confront the demons of his past, forgive the people who hurt him, and begin atoning for the wrongs he had committed.
The Cincinnati Penal Congress of 1870 ushered in the era of "progressive" penology: the use of statistical and social scientific methodologies, commitment to psychiatric and therapeutic interventions, and a new innovation - the reformatory - as the locus for the application of these initiatives. The prisoner was now seen as a specimen to be analyzed, treated, and properly socialized into the triumphal current of American social and economic life. The Progressive rehabilitative initiatives succumbed in the 1970s to withering criticism from the proponents of equally futile strategies for addressing "the crime problem": retribution, deterrence, and selective incapacitation.The early Christian community developed a methodology for correcting human error that featured the unprecedented belief that a period of time spent in a given penitential locale, with the aid and encouragement of the community, was sufficient in and of itself to heal the alienation and self-loathing caused by sin and to lead an individual to full reincorporation into the community.
Punishment policies and practices in the United States today are unprincipled, chaotic, and much too often unjust. The financial costs are enormous. The moral cost is greater: countless individual injustices, mass incarceration, the world's highest imprisonment rate, extreme disparities, especially affecting members of racial and ethnic minority groups, high rates of wrongful conviction, assembly line case processing, and a general absence of respectful consideration of offenders' interests, circumstances, and needs. In Doing Justice, Preventing Crime, Michael Tonry lays normative and empirical foundations for building new, more just, and more effective systems of sentencing and punishment in the twenty-first century. The overriding goals are to treat people convicted of crimes justly, fairly, and even-handedly; to take sympathetic account of the circumstances of peoples' lives; and to punish no one more severely than he or she deserves. Drawing on philosophy and punishment theory, this book explains the structural changes needed to uphold the rule of law and its requirement that the human dignity of every person be respected.
A groundbreaking reassessment of the American prison system, challenging the widely accepted explanations for our exploding incarceration rates In Locked In, John Pfaff argues that the factors most commonly cited to explain mass incarceration -- the failed War on Drugs, draconian sentencing laws, an increasing reliance on private prisons -- tell us much less than we think. Instead, Pfaff urges us to look at other factors, especially a major shift in prosecutor behavior that occurred in the mid-1990s, when prosecutors began bringing felony charges against arrestees about twice as often as they had before. An authoritative, clear-eyed account of a national catastrophe, Locked In is "a must-read for anyone who dreams of an America that is not the world's most imprisoned nation" (Chris Hayes, author of A Colony in a Nation). It transforms our understanding of what ails the American system of punishment and ultimately forces us to reconsider how we can build a more equitable and humane society.
There is an emerging consensus that we've been locking up too many people for too long, but with more than 2.2 million Americans behind bars right now, how do we go about bring people home? DECARCERATING AMERICA collects the thoughts of some of the leading thinkers in the criminal justice reform movement to strategise about how to cure America of its epidemic of mass punishment.
It isn't enough to celebrate the death penalty's demise. We must learn from it. When Henry McCollum was condemned to death in 1984 in rural North Carolina, death sentences were commonplace. In 2014, DNA tests set McCollum free. By then, death sentences were as rare as lethal lightning strikes. To most observers this national trend came as a surprise. What changed? Brandon Garrett hand-collected and analyzed national data, looking for causes and implications of this turnaround. End of Its Rope explains what he found, and why the story of who killed the death penalty, and how, can be the catalyst for criminal justice reform. No single factor put the death penalty on the road to extinction, Garrett concludes. Death row exonerations fostered rising awareness of errors in death penalty cases, at the same time that a decline in murder rates eroded law-and-order arguments. Defense lawyers radically improved how they litigate death cases when given adequate resources.
Through the stories of prisoners and their families, including her own family's experiences, Maya Schenwar shows how the institution that locks up 2.3 million Americans and decimates poor communities of color is shredding the ties that, if nurtured, could foster real collective safety. As she vividly depicts here, incarceration takes away the very things that might enable people to build better lives. But looking toward a future beyond imprisonment, Schenwar profiles community-based initiatives that successfully deal with problems-both individual harm and larger social wrongs-through connection rather than isolation, moving toward a safer, freer future for all of us.
Smart Decarceration is a forward-thinking, practical volume that provides innovative concepts and concrete strategies for ushering in an era of decarceration -- a proactive and effective undoing of the era of mass incarceration. The text grapples with tough questions and takes up the challenge of transforming America's approach to criminal justice in the 21st century. This timely work consists of chapters written from multiple perspectives and disciplines including advocates, researchers, academics, practitioners, and persons with incarceration histories who are now leaders in the movement. The primary purpose of this book is to inform both academic and public understanding -- to place the challenge of smart decarceration at the center of the current national discourse, taking into account the realities of the current sociopolitical context -- and to propose beginning action steps.