During the age of dictatorships, Latin American prisons became a symbol for the vanquishing of political opponents, many of whom were never seen again. In the postdictatorship era of the 1990s, a number of these prisons were repurposed into shopping malls, museums, and memorials. Susana Draper uses the phenomenon of the “opening” of prisons and detention centers to begin a dialog on conceptualizations of democracy and freedom in post-dictatorship Latin America. Focusing on the Southern Cone nations of Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina, Draper examines key works in architecture, film, and literature to peel away the veiled continuity of dictatorial power structures in ensuing consumer cultures.
The afterlife of prisons became an important tool in the “forgetting” of past politics, while also serving as a reminder to citizens of the liberties they now enjoyed. In Draper’s analysis, these symbols led the populace to believe they had attained freedom, although they had only witnessed the veneer of democracy—in the ability to vote and consume.
In selected literary works by Roberto Bolaño, Eleuterio Fernández Huidoboro, and Diamela Eltit and films by Alejandro Agresti and Marco Bechis, Draper finds further evidence of the emptiness and melancholy of underachieved goals in the afterlife of dictatorships. The social changes that did not occur, the inability to effectively mourn the losses of a now-hidden past, the homogenizing effects of market economies, and a yearning for the promises of true freedom are thematic currents underlying much of these texts.
Draper’s study of the manipulation of culture and consumerism under the guise of democracy will have powerful implications not only for Latin Americanists but also for those studying neoliberal transformations globally.
Alcatraz Screw is a firsthand account from a prison guard’s perspective of some of the most storied years at the infamous U.S. Penitentiary at Alcatraz. George Gregory began his career as a guard for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 1940. Following his training, he was sent to the federal prison at Sandstone, Minnesota. A few years later he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Badly wounded at Iwo Jima, he returned to Sandstone after a long rehabilitation. When the Bureau of Prisons closed Sandstone in 1947, Gregory was transferred to Alcatraz, which had been a federal penitentiary since 1934.
For the next fifteen years, Gregory worked on “The Rock.” He takes the reader along on a correctional officer’s tour of duty, showing what it was like to pull a lonely, tedious night of sentry duty in the Road Tower, or witness illicit transactions in the clothing room, or forcibly quell a riot in the cell blocks. Gregory provides an insider’s account of the tenures of all four of Alcatraz’s wardens and their sometimes contradictory approaches to administering the institution. He knew and regularly interacted with such legendary inmates as Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz) and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.
Without glamorizing or demonizing either the staff or the convicts, Alcatraz Screw provides a candid portrayal of corruption, drug abuse, and sexual practices, as well as efforts at reform and unrecorded acts of kindness. Various incidents in the memoir convey the fear, hatred, frustration, boredom, and unavoidable tension of being incarcerated. With the inclusion of maps and diagrams of Alcatraz Island, as well as photographs of inmates, officers, and the prison itself, this book offers insight into life at the notorious Alcatraz from an unprecedented perspective.
During the 1970s, grassroots women activists in and outside of prisons forged a radical politics against gender violence and incarceration. Emily L. Thuma traces the making of this anticarceral feminism at the intersections of struggles for racial and economic justice, prisoners’ and psychiatric patients’ rights, and gender and sexual liberation.
All Our Trials explores the organizing, ideas, and influence of those who placed criminalized and marginalized women at the heart of their antiviolence mobilizations. This activism confronted a "tough on crime" political agenda and clashed with the mainstream women’s movement’s strategy of resorting to the criminal legal system as a solution to sexual and domestic violence. Drawing on extensive archival research and first-person narratives, Thuma weaves together the stories of mass defense campaigns, prisoner uprisings, broad-based local coalitions, national gatherings, and radical print cultures that cut through prison walls. In the process, she illuminates a crucial chapter in an unfinished struggle––one that continues in today’s movements against mass incarceration and in support of transformative justice.
How does a prison achieve institutional order while safeguarding prisoners' rights? Since the early 1960s, prison reform advocates have aggressively used the courts to extend rights and improve life for inmates, while prison administrators have been slow to alter the status quo. Litigated reform has been the most significant force in obtaining change.
An Appeal to Justice is a critical tudy of how the Texas Department of Corrections was transformed by Ruiz v. Estelle, the most sweeping class-action suit in correctional law history. Orders from federal judge William W. Justice rapidly moved the Texas system from one of the most autonomous, isolated, and paternalistic system to a more constitutional bureaucracy. In many respects the Texas experience is a microcosm of the transformation of American corrections over the second half of the twentieth century.
This is a careful account of TDC's fearful past as a plantation system, its tumultuous litigated reform, and its subsequent efforts to balance prisoner rights and prison order. Of major importance is the detailed examination of the broad stages of the reform process (and its costs and benefits) and an intimate look at prison brutality and humanity. The authors examine the terror tactics of the inmate guards, the development of prisoner gangs and widespread violence during the reforms, and the stability that eventually emerged. They also detail the change of the guard force from a relatively small, cohesive cadre dependent on discretion, personal loyalty, and physical dominance to a larger and more fragmented security staff controlled by formal procedures.
Drawing on years of research in archival sources and on hundreds of interviews with prisoners, administrators, and staff, An Appeal to Justice is a unique basis for assessing the course and consequences of prison litigation and will be valuable reading for legislators, lawyers, judges, prison administrators, and concerned citizens, as well as prison and public policy scholars.
Roughly 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from untreated disease, starvation, and execution during the Khmer Rouge reign of less than four years in the late 1970s. The regime’s brutality has come to be symbolized by the multitude of black-and-white mug shots of prisoners taken at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of “enemies of the state” were tortured before being sent to the Killing Fields. In Archiving the Unspeakable, Michelle Caswell traces the social life of these photographic records through the lens of archival studies and elucidates how, paradoxically, they have become agents of silence and witnessing, human rights and injustice as they are deployed at various moments in time and space. From their creation as Khmer Rouge administrative records to their transformation beginning in 1979 into museum displays, archival collections, and databases, the mug shots are key components in an ongoing drama of unimaginable human suffering.
Winner, Waldo Gifford Leland Award, Society of American Archivists
Longlist, ICAS Book Prize, International Convention of Asia Scholars
“From the upper bunk where I write, a narrow window allows me a southern exposure of the desert beyond this prison. Saguaro cacti, residents here long before this rude concrete pueblo, fill the upper part of my frame. If I could open the window and reach out across the razed ground, sand traps, and shining perimeter fence, I might touch their fluted sides, their glaucous and waxen skins.”
For some people, even prison cannot shut out the natural world.
A teacher and family man incarcerated in Arizona State Prison—the result of a transgression that would cost him a dozen years of his life—Ken Lamberton can see beyond his desert walls. In essays that focus on the natural history of the region and on his own personal experiences with desert places, the author of the Burroughs Medal-winning book Wilderness and Razor Wire takes readers along as he revisits the Southwest he knew when he was free, and as he makes an inner journey toward self-awareness. Whether considering the seemingly eternal cacti or the desolate beauty of the Pinacate, he draws on sharp powers of observation to re-create what lies beyond his six-by-eight cell and to contemplate the thoughts that haunt his mind as tenaciously as the kissing bugs that haunt his sleep.
Ranging from prehistoric ruins on the Colorado Plateau to the shores of the Sea of Cortez, these writings were begun before Wilderness and Razor Wire and serve as a prequel to it. They seamlessly interweave natural and personal history as Lamberton explores caves, canyons, and dry ponds, evoking the mysteries and rhythms of desert life that elude even the most careful observers. He offers new ways of thinking about how we relate to the natural world, and about the links between those relationships and the ones we forge with other people. With the assurance of a gifted writer, he seeks to make sense of his own place in life, crafting words to come to terms with an insanity of his own making, to look inside himself and understand his passions and flaws.
Whether considering rattlesnakes of the hellish summer desert or the fellow inmates of his own personal hell, Lamberton finds meaningful connections—to his crime and his place, to the people who remained in his life and those who didn’t. But what he reveals in Beyond Desert Walls ultimately arises from language itself: a deep, and perhaps even frightening, understanding of a singular human nature.
For the past fifty years, America has been extraordinarily busy building prisons. Since 1970 we have tripled the total number of facilities, adding more than 1,200 new prisons to the landscape. This building boom has taken place across the country but is largely concentrated in rural southern towns.
In 2007, John M. Eason moved his family to Forrest City, Arkansas, in search of answers to key questions about this trend: Why is America building so many prisons? Why now? And why in rural areas? Eason quickly learned that rural demand for prisons is complicated. Towns like Forrest City choose to build prisons not simply in hopes of landing jobs or economic wellbeing, but also to protect and improve their reputations. For some rural leaders, fostering a prison in their town is a means of achieving order in a rapidly changing world. Taking us into the decision-making meetings and tracking the impact of prisons on economic development, poverty, and race, Eason demonstrates how groups of elite whites and black leaders share power. Situating prisons within dynamic shifts that rural economies are undergoing and showing how racially diverse communities lobby for prison construction, Big House on the Prairie is a remarkable glimpse into the ways a prison economy takes shape and operates.
Opening a new area in Latin American studies, The Birth of the Penitentiary in Latin America showcases the most recent historical outlooks on prison reform and criminology in the Latin American context. The essays in this collection shed new light on the discourse and practice of prison reform, the interpretive shifts induced by the spread of criminological science, and the links between them and competing discourses about class, race, nation, and gender. The book shows how the seemingly clear redemptive purpose of the penitentiary project was eventually contradicted by conflicting views about imprisonment, the pervasiveness of traditional forms of repression and control, and resistance from the lower classes.
The essays are unified by their attempt to view the penitentiary (as well as the variety of representations conveyed by the different reform movements favoring its adoption) as an interpretive moment, revealing of the ideology, class fractures, and contradictory nature of modernity in Latin America. As such, the book should be of interest not only to scholars concerned with criminal justice history, but also to a wide range of readers interested in modernization, social identities, and the discursive articulation of social conflict. The collection also offers an up-to-date sampling of new historical approaches to the study of criminal justice history, illuminates crucial aspects of the Latin American modernization process, and contrasts the Latin American cases with the better known European and North American experiences with prison reform.
The United States incarcerates more people per capita than any other industrialized nation in the world—about 1 in 100 adults, or more than 2 million people—while national spending on prisons has catapulted 400 percent. Given the vast racial disparities in incarceration, the prison system also reinforces race and class divisions. How and why did we become the world’s leading jailer? And what can we, as a society, do about it?
Reframing the story of mass incarceration, Heather Schoenfeld illustrates how the unfinished task of full equality for African Americans led to a series of policy choices that expanded the government’s power to punish, even as they were designed to protect individuals from arbitrary state violence. Examining civil rights protests, prison condition lawsuits, sentencing reforms, the War on Drugs, and the rise of conservative Tea Party politics, Schoenfeld explains why politicians veered from skepticism of prisons to an embrace of incarceration as the appropriate response to crime. To reduce the number of people behind bars, Schoenfeld argues that we must transform the political incentives for imprisonment and develop a new ideological basis for punishment.
The contributors to Captivating Technology examine how carceral technologies such as electronic ankle monitors and predictive-policing algorithms are being deployed to classify and coerce specific populations and whether these innovations can be appropriated and reimagined for more liberatory ends.
In Captives in Blue, Roger Pickenpaugh examines the ways the Confederate army contended with the growing prison population, the variations in the policies and practices of different Confederate prison camps, the effects these policies and practices had on Union prisoners, and the logistics of prisoner exchanges. He explores conditions that arose from conscious government policy decisions and conditions that were the product of local officials or unique local situations. He also considers how Confederate prisons and policies dealt with African American Union soldiers. Black soldiers held captive in Confederate prisons faced uncertain fates; many former slaves were returned to their former owners, while others faced harsh treatment in the camps. Drawing on prisoner diaries, Pickenpaugh provides compelling first-person accounts of life in prison camps often overlooked by scholars in the field.
This study of Union captives in Confederate prisons is a companion to Roger Pickenpaugh’s earlier groundbreaking book Captives in Gray: The Civil War Prisons of the Union and extends his examination of Civil War prisoner-of-war facilities into the Confederacy.
Perhaps no topic is more heated, and the sources more tendentious, than that of Civil War prisons and the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs). Partisans of each side, then and now, have vilified the other for maltreatment of their POWs, while seeking to excuse their own distressing record of prisoner of war camp mismanagement, brutality, and incompetence. It is only recently that historians have turned their attention to this contentious topic in an attempt to sort the wheat of truth from the chaff of partisan rancor.
Roger Pickenpaugh has previously studied a Union prison camp in careful detail (Camp Chase) and now turns his attention to the Union record in its entirety, to investigate variations between camps and overall prison policy and to determine as nearly as possible what actually happened in the admittedly over-crowded, under-supplied, and poorly-administered camps. He also attempts to determine what conditions resulted from conscious government policy or were the product of local officials and situations.
Drawing upon social history, political history, and critical prison studies, this book analyzes how prisons and other instruments of colonial punishment endured after independence and challenges their continued existence.
In Carceral Afterlives, Katherine Bruce-Lockhart traces the politics, practices, and lived experiences of incarceration in postcolonial Uganda, focusing on the period between independence in 1962 and the beginning of Yoweri Museveni’s presidency in 1986. During these decades, Ugandans experienced multiple changes of government, widespread state violence, and war, all of which affected the government’s approach to punishment. Bruce-Lockhart analyzes the relationship between the prison system and other sites of confinement—including informal detention spaces known as “safe houses” and wartime camps—and considers other forms of punishment, such as public executions and “disappearance” by state paramilitary organizations.
Through archival and personal collections, interviews with Ugandans who lived through these decades, and a range of media sources and memoirs, Bruce-Lockhart examines how carceral systems were imagined and experienced by Ugandans held within, working for, or impacted by them. She shows how Uganda’s postcolonial leaders, especially Milton Obote and Idi Amin, attempted to harness the symbolic, material, and coercive power of prisons in the pursuit of a range of political agendas. She also examines the day-to-day realities of penal spaces and public perceptions of punishment by tracing the experiences of Ugandans who were incarcerated, their family members and friends, prison officers, and other government employees. Furthermore, she shows how the carceral arena was an important site of dissent, examining how those inside and outside of prisons and other spaces of captivity challenged the state’s violent punitive tactics.
Using Uganda as a case study, Carceral Afterlives emphasizes how prisons and the wider use of confinement—both as a punishment and as a vehicle for other modes of punishment—remain central to state power in the Global South and North. While scholars have closely analyzed the prison’s expansion through colonial rule and the rise of mass incarceration in the United States, they have largely taken for granted its postcolonial persistence. In contrast, Bruce-Lockhart demonstrates how the prison’s transition from a colonial to a postcolonial institution explains its ubiquity and reveals ways to critique and challenge its ongoing existence. The book thus explores broader questions about the unfinished work of decolonization, the relationship between incarceration and struggles for freedom, and the prison’s enduring yet increasingly contested place in our global institutional landscape.
In his masterpiece The Cat Who Taught Me How to Fly, Hashem Gharaibeh tells the moving story of a political prisoner during Jordan’s martial law era, which spanned from 1967 to 1989. Gharaibeh defies the taboos of politics, sex, and religion to tell a thrilling and brutally honest story about the horrors and insanities of everyday life in an Arab prison. At once both a novel and an autobiography, the author draws from his own experiences as a Jordanian youth arrested and imprisoned for nearly a decade for his affiliation with the Jordanian Communist Party. The novel uniquely portrays prison culture intertwined with tribal, ideological, and political perspectives to explain both mundane and esoteric aspects of prison life in this time and era, illustrating an experience that is traumatic, humane, and inspiring. A heartwrenching story of learning, survival, and the quest for the freedom of thought is told with powerful defiance and grace, exposing us to human frailty, strength, and one man’s dream to soar beyond the walls of prison, society, and self.
Boldly and eloquently contributing to the argument against the prison system in the United States, these provocative essays offer an ideological and practical framework for empowering prisoners instead of incarcerating them. Experts and activists who have worked within and against the prison system join forces here to call attention to the debilitating effects of a punishment-driven society and offer clear-eyed alternatives that emphasize working directly with prisoners and their communities.
Edited by Stephen John Hartnett, the volume offers rhetorical and political analyses of police culture, the so-called drug war, media coverage of crime stories, and the public-school-to-prison pipeline. The collection also includes case studies of successful prison arts and education programs in Michigan, California, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that provide creative and intellectual resources typically denied to citizens living behind bars. Writings and artwork created by prisoners in such programs richly enhance the volume.
Contributors are Buzz Alexander, Rose Braz, Travis L. Dixon, Garrett Albert Duncan, Stephen John Hartnett, Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, Daniel Mark Larson, Erica R. Meiners, Janie Paul, Lori Pompa, Jonathan Shailor, Robin Sohnen, and Myesha Williams.
America's prison population has quadrupled in the past two decades, with an enormous impact on families, communities, correctional officers, policy makers, and prisoners themselves. The use of imprisonment as a means of social control has come to the fore in many public debates—whether the issues be deterrence, incapacitation, public spending, overcrowding, or the effects of imprisonment on the offenders' later lives. Prisons addresses these and related topics, offering thought-provoking analyses of particular issues that deserve greater consideration, such as the effects of imprisonment on the children of inmates, the relationship between prisons and the surrounding communities, medical care in prisons, prisoner suicide and coping, adult correctional treatment, and prison management trends, and related topics.
Featuring articles by Alfred Blumstein and Allen Beck, Joan Petersilia, Anthony Bottoms, Douglas McDonald and others, Prisons provides reliable, up-to-date, and comprehensive overviews of policy issues and research developments concerning prisons and imprisonment. This timely collection of essays will benefit scholars, administrators, and policy makers alike.
The Criminals of Lima and Their Worlds is the first major historical study of the creation and development of the prison system in Peru. Carlos Aguirre examines the evolution of prisons for male criminals in Lima from the conception—in the early 1850s—of the initial plans to build penitentiaries through the early-twentieth-century prison reforms undertaken as part of President Augusto Leguia’s attempts to modernize and expand the Peruvian state. Aguirre reconstructs the social, cultural, and doctrinal influences that determined how lawbreakers were treated, how programs of prison reform fared, and how inmates experienced incarceration. He argues that the Peruvian prisons were primarily used not to combat crime or to rehabilitate allegedly deviant individuals, but rather to help reproduce and maintain an essentially unjust social order. In this sense, he finds that the prison system embodied the contradictory and exclusionary nature of modernization in Peru.
Drawing on a large collection of prison and administrative records archived at Peru’s Ministry of Justice, Aguirre offers a detailed account of the daily lives of men incarcerated in Lima’s jails. In showing the extent to which the prisoners actively sought to influence prison life, he reveals the dynamic between prisoners and guards as a process of negotiation, accommodation, and resistance. He describes how police and the Peruvian state defined criminality and how their efforts to base a prison system on the latest scientific theories—imported from Europe and the United States—foundered on the shoals of financial constraints, administrative incompetence, corruption, and widespread public indifference. Locating his findings within the political and social mores of Lima society, Aguirre reflects on the connections between punishment, modernization, and authoritarian traditions in Peru.
Ever since he was asked to critique the poetry of a convicted murderer, he has lived in two worlds.
Richard Shelton was a young English professor in 1970 when a convict named Charles Schmid—a serial killer dubbed the “Pied Piper of Tucson” in national magazines—shared his brooding verse. But for Shelton, the novelty of meeting a death-row monster became a thirty-year commitment to helping prisoners express themselves. Shelton began organizing creative writing workshops behind bars, and in this gritty memoir he offers up a chronicle of reaching out to forgotten men and women—and of creativity blossoming in a repressive environment. He tells of published students such as Paul Ashley, Greg Forker, Ken Lamberton, and Jimmy Santiago Baca who have made names for themselves through their writing instead of their crimes. Shelton also recounts the bittersweet triumph of seeing work published by men who later met with agonizing deaths, and the despair of seeing the creative strides of inmates broken by politically motivated transfers to private prisons. And his memoir bristles with hard-edged experiences, ranging from inside knowledge of prison breaks to a workshop conducted while a riot raged outside a barricaded door. Reflecting on his decision to tutor Schmid, Shelton sees that the choice “has led me through bloody tragedies and terrible disappointments to a better understanding of what it means to be human.”
Crossing the Yard is a rare story of professional fulfillment—and a testament to the transformative power of writing.
The number of people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails more than quadrupled between 1975 and 2005, reaching the unprecedented level of over two million inmates today. Annual corrections spending now exceeds 64 billion dollars, and many of the social and economic burdens resulting from mass incarceration fall disproportionately on minority communities. Yet crime rates across the country have also dropped considerably during this time period. In Do Prisons Make Us Safer? leading experts systematically examine the complex repercussions of the massive surge in our nation's prison system. Do Prisons Make Us Safer? asks whether it makes sense to maintain such a large and costly prison system. The contributors expand the scope of previous analyses to include a number of underexplored dimensions, such as the fiscal impact on states, effects on children, and employment prospects for former inmates. Steven Raphael and Michael Stoll assess the reasons behind the explosion in incarceration rates and find that criminal behavior itself accounts for only a small fraction of the prison boom. Eighty-five percent of the trend can be attributed to "get tough on crime" policies that have increased both the likelihood of a prison sentence and the length of time served. Shawn Bushway shows that while prison time effectively deters and incapacitates criminals in the short term, long-term benefits such as overall crime reduction or individual rehabilitation are less clear cut. Amy Lerman conducts a novel investigation into the effects of imprisonment on criminal psychology and uncovers striking evidence that placement in a high security penitentiary leads to increased rates of violence and anger—particularly in the case of first time or minor offenders. Rucker Johnson documents the spill-over effects of parental incarceration—children who have had a parent serve prison time exhibit more behavioral problems than their peers. Policies to enhance the well-being of these children are essential to breaking a devastating cycle of poverty, unemployment, and crime. John Donohue's economic calculations suggest that alternative social welfare policies such as education and employment programs for at-risk youth may lower crime just as effectively as prisons, but at a much lower human cost. The cost of hiring a new teacher is roughly equal to the cost of incarcerating an additional inmate. The United States currently imprisons a greater proportion of its citizens than any other nation in the world. Until now, however, we've lacked systematic and comprehensive data on how this prison boom has affected families, communities, and our nation as a whole. Do Prisons Make Us Safer? provides a highly nuanced and deeply engaging account of one of the most dramatic policy developments in recent U.S. history.
"The HIV+ men incarcerated in Limestone Prison's Dorm 16 were put there to be forgotten. Not only do Benjamin Fleury-Steiner and Carla Crowder bring these men to life, Fleury-Steiner and Crowder also insist on placing these men in the middle of critical conversations about health policy, mass incarceration, and race. Dense with firsthand accounts, Dying Inside is a nimble, far-ranging and unblinking look at the cruelty inherent in our current penal policies."
---Lisa Kung, Director, Southern Center for Human Rights
"The looming prison health crisis, documented here at its extreme, is a shocking stain on American values and a clear opportunity to rethink our carceral approach to security."
---Jonathan Simon, University of California, Berkeley
"Dying Inside is a riveting account of a health crisis in a hidden prison facility."
---Michael Musheno, San Francisco State University, and coauthor of Deployed
"This fresh and original study should prick all of our consciences about the horrific consequences of the massive carceral state the United States has built over the last three decades."
---Marie Gottschalk, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Prison and the Gallows
"An important, bold, and humanitarian book."
---Alison Liebling, University of Cambridge
"Fleury-Steiner makes a compelling case that inmate health care in America's prisons and jails has reached the point of catastrophe."
---Sharon Dolovich, University of California, Los Angeles
"Fleury-Steiner's persuasive argument not only exposes the sins of commission and omission on prison cellblocks, but also does an excellent job of showing how these problems are the natural result of our nation's shortsighted and punitive criminal justice policy."
---Allen Hornblum, Temple University, and author of Sentenced to Science
Dying Inside brings the reader face-to-face with the nightmarish conditions inside Limestone Prison's Dorm 16---the segregated HIV ward. Here, patients chained to beds share their space with insects and vermin in the filthy, drafty rooms, and contagious diseases spread like wildfire through a population with untreated---or poorly managed at best---HIV.
While Dorm 16 is a particularly horrific human rights tragedy, it is also a symptom of a disease afflicting the entire U.S. prison system. In recent decades, prison populations have exploded as Americans made mass incarceration the solution to crime, drugs, and other social problems even as privatization of prison services, especially health care, resulted in an overcrowded, underfunded system in which the most marginalized members of our society slowly wither from what the author calls "lethal abandonment."
This eye-opening account of one prison's failed health-care standards is a wake-up call, asking us to examine how we treat our forgotten citizens and compelling us to rethink the American prison system in this increasingly punitive age.
On April 21, 1930—Easter Monday—some rags caught fire under the Ohio Penitentiary’s dry and aging wooden roof, shortly after inmates had returned to their locked cells after supper. In less than an hour, 320 men who came from all corners of Prohibition-era America and from as far away as Russia had succumbed to fire and smoke in what remains the deadliest prison disaster in United States history.
Within 24 hours, moviegoers were watching Pathé’s newsreel of the fire, and in less than a week, the first iteration of the weepy ballad “Ohio Prison Fire” was released. The deaths brought urgent national and international focus to the horrifying conditions of America’s prisons (at the time of the fire, the Ohio Penitentiary was at almost three times its capacity). Yet, amid darkening world politics and the first years of the Great Depression, the fire receded from public concern.
In Fire in the Big House, Mitchel P. Roth does justice to the lives of convicts and guards and puts the conflagration in the context of the rise of the Big House prison model, local and state political machinations, and American penal history and reform efforts. The result is the first comprehensive account of a tragedy whose circumstances—violent unrest, overcrowding, poorly trained and underpaid guards, unsanitary conditions, inadequate food—will be familiar to prison watchdogs today.
Decades after the U.S. Supreme Court and certain governmental actions struck down racial segregation in the larger society, American prison administrators still boldly adhered to discriminatory practices. Not until 1975 did legislation prohibit racial segregation and discrimination in Texas prisons. However, vestiges of this practice endured behind prison walls. Charting the transformation from segregation to desegregation in Texas prisons—which resulted in Texas prisons becoming one of the most desegregated places in America—First Available Cell chronicles the pivotal steps in the process, including prison director George J. Beto's 1965 decision to allow inmates of different races to co-exist in the same prison setting, defying Southern norms.
The authors also clarify the significant impetus for change that emerged in 1972, when a Texas inmate filed a lawsuit alleging racial segregation and discrimination in the Texas Department of Corrections. Perhaps surprisingly, a multiracial group of prisoners sided with the TDC, fearing that desegregated housing would unleash racial violence. Members of the security staff also feared and predicted severe racial violence. Nearly two decades after the 1972 lawsuit, one vestige of segregation remained in place: the double cell. Revealing the aftermath of racial desegregation within that 9 x 5 foot space, First Available Cell tells the story of one of the greatest social experiments with racial desegregation in American history.
At 2.26 million, incarcerated Americans not only outnumber the nation’s fourth-largest city, they make up a national constituency bound by a shared condition. Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America presents more than seventy essays from twenty-seven states, written by incarcerated Americans chronicling their experience inside. In essays as moving as they are eloquent, the authors speak out against a national prison complex that fails so badly at the task of rehabilitation that 60% of the 650,000 Americans released each year return to prison. These essays document the authors’ efforts at self-help, the institutional resistance such efforts meet at nearly every turn, and the impact, in money and lives, that this resistance has on the public. Directly confronting the images of prisons and prisoners manufactured by popular media, so-called reality TV, and for-profit local and national news sources, Fourth City recognizes American prisoners as our primary, frontline witnesses to the dysfunction of the largest prison system on earth. Filled with deeply personal stories of coping, survival, resistance, and transformation, Fourth City should be read by every American who believes that law should achieve order in the cause of justice rather than at its cost.
In this shocking study, Anne M. Butler shows that the distinct gender disadvantages already faced by women within western society erupted into intense physical and mental violence when they became prisoners in male penitentiaries.
Drawing on prison records and the words of the women themselves, Gendered Justice in the American West places the injustices women prisoners endured in the context of the structures of male authority and female powerlessness that pervaded all of American society. Butler's poignant cross-cultural account explores how nineteenth-century criminologists constructed the "criminal woman"; how the women's age, race, class, and gender influenced their court proceedings; and what kinds of violence women inmates encountered. She also examines the prisoners' diet, illnesses, and experiences with pregnancy and child-bearing, as well as their survival strategies.
“Supermax” prisons, conceived by the United States in the early 1980s, are typically reserved for convicted political criminals such as terrorists and spies and for other inmates who are considered to pose a serious ongoing threat to the wider community, to the security of correctional institutions, or to the safety of other inmates. Prisoners are usually restricted to their cells for up to twenty-three hours a day and typically have minimal contact with other inmates and correctional staff. Not only does the Federal Bureau of Prisons operate one of these facilities, but almost every state has either a supermax wing or stand-alone supermax prison.
The Globalization of Supermax Prisons examines why nine advanced industrialized countries have adopted the supermax prototype, paying particular attention to the economic, social, and political processes that have affected each state. Featuring essays that look at the U.S.-run prisons of Abu Ghraib and Guantanemo, this collection seeks to determine if the American model is the basis for the establishment of these facilities and considers such issues as the support or opposition to the building of a supermax and why opposition efforts failed; the allegation of human rights abuses within these prisons; and the extent to which the decision to build a supermax was influenced by developments in the United States. Additionally, contributors address such domestic matters as the role of crime rates, media sensationalism, and terrorism in each country’s decision to build a supermax prison.
After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, executed a staggering number of political prisoners in Western Ukraine-somewhere between 10,000 and 40,000-in the space of eight days, in one of the greatest atrocities perpetrated by the Soviet state. Yet the Great West Ukrainian Prison Massacre of 1941 is largely unknown. This sourcebook aims to change that, offering detailed scholarly analysis, eyewitness testimonies and profiles of known victims, and a selection of fiction, memoirs, and poetry that testifies to the lasting impact of the massacre in the collective memory of Ukrainians.
Laurence Gonzales began his successful publishing career in 1989 with the publication of The Still Point and later The Hero’s Apprentice (1994), both with the University of Arkansas Press. From these collections of essays he went on to write for renowned magazines in addition to publishing several books, including the best selling Deep Survival. His journalism garnered two National Magazine Awards, and his latest nonfiction book, Surviving Survival, was named by Kirkus as one of the best books of 2012.
This new collection of essays shows us the sometimes hair-raising, sometimes heart-wrenching writing that Gonzales has become known for. This “compelling and trustworthy guide” (Booklist) takes us from a maximum-security prison to a cancer ward, from a mental institution to the World Trade Center. Among the essays included is “Marion Prison,” a National Magazine Award finalist, with its intimate view inside the most maximum security prison in America. “House of Pain” takes the reader into the life of a brain surgeon at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, a grim world that few ever see. “Rites of Spring,” another National Magazine Award finalist, follows Gonzales and his wife on their journey through cancer, not once, but twice.
Other stories venture above the Arctic Circle, flying deep into the Alaskan wilderness among grizzly bears and trumpeter swans; explore aerobatics in high-performance aircraft; and eulogize Memphis and Miami as American cities that mourn their fates in uniquely different ways.
Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish is one of the best-selling works of critical theory and a key text on many undergraduate courses. However, it is a long, difficult text which makes Anne Schwan and Stephen Shapiro's excellent step-by-step reading guide a welcome addition to the How to Read Theory series.
Undergraduates across a wide range of disciplines are expected to have a solid understanding of Foucault's key terms, which have become commonplace in critical thinking today. While there are many texts that survey Foucault's thought, these are often more general overviews or biographical précis that give little in the way of robust explanation and discussion. In contrast, Schwan and Shapiro take a plain-speaking, yet detailed, approach, specifically designed to give students a thorough understanding of one of the most influential texts in contemporary cultural theory.
In seemingly exhaustive arguments about identity as a category of analysis, we have made a critical error—one that Michael Hames-García sets out to correct in this revisionary look at the making and meaning of social identities. We have asked how separate identities—of race, class, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality—come to intersect. Instead, Hames-García proposes, we should begin by understanding such social identities as mutually constituting one another.
Grounded in both theoretical and political practices—in the lived realities of people’s experience—Identity Complex reinvigorates identity as a key concept and as a tool for the pursuit of social justice. Hames-García draws on a wide range of examples to show that social identities are central to how exploitation works, such as debates about the desirability of sexual minority identities in postcolonial contexts, questions about the reality of race, and the nature of the U.S. prison crisis.
Unless we understand precisely how identities take shape in relation to each other and within contexts of oppression, he contends, we will never be able to eradicate discrimination and social inequality. By analyzing the social interdependence of identities, Hames-García seeks to enable the creation of deep connections of solidarity across differences.
America is fascinated by prisons and prison culture, but few Americans understand what it is like to work in corrections. Claire Schmidt, whose extended family includes three generations of Wisconsin prison workers, introduces readers to penitentiary officers and staff as they share stories, debate the role of corrections in American racial politics and social justice, and talk about the important function of humor in their jobs.
In a state that locks up a disproportionate number of men and women of color, white prison workers occupy a complicated social position as representatives of institutional authority and bearers of social stigma. The job, by turns dangerous, dull, or dehumanizing, is aided by a quick wit, comedic timing, and verbal agility. The men and women who do this work rely on storytelling, practical jokes, and sarcasm to bond with each other, build flexible relationships with inmates, and create personal identities that work in and out of prison. Schmidt shows how this humorous occupational culture both upholds and undermines prisons as social institutions.
Issues of power and race, as well as sex and gender, infuse Schmidt's groundbreaking analysis, and she also engages with current scholarship about identity, occupational folklore, and family narrative. This eye-opening, provocative book reveals the invisible culture, beliefs, and aesthetics embedded in workplace humor.
This brilliant and insightful contribution to cultural studies investigates the role of literature—particularly the novel—and visual arts in the development of institutions. Arguing the attitudes expressed in narrative literature and art between 1719 and 1779 helped bring about the change from traditional prisons to penitentiaries, John Bender offers studies of Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, The Beggar's Opera, Hogarth's Progresses, Jonathan Wild, and Amelia as well as illustrations from prison literature, art, and architecture in support of his thesis.
"For a few decades American prisons were the wonder of the world. [However] early hopes that a prison regime could be a powerful means of reforming most convicts have been abandoned, and prisons are seen even by some of those who think we need more of them as savage repositories, to be shunned or veiled rather than admired. This sad history is drawn with great insight and learning in [this] important new book about prisons and punishment in America by Michael Sherman and Gordon Hawkins. . . . The views of these professionals must be taken seriously."—Graham Hughes, New York Review of Books
"This is a serious and enlightened and concerned attempt to fuse liberal and conservative attitudes and values to achieve a breakthrough in American penal policy."—Congressional Staff Journal
A groundbreaking collection of writings by Michel Foucault and the Prisons Information Group documenting their efforts to expose France’s inhumane treatment of prisoners
Founded by Michel Foucault and others in 1970–71, the Prisons Information Group (GIP) circulated information about the inhumane conditions within the French prison system. Intolerable makes available for the first time in English a fully annotated compilation of materials produced by the GIP during its brief but influential existence, including an exclusive new interview with GIP member Hélène Cixous and writings by Gilles Deleuze and Jean Genet.
These archival documents—public announcements, manifestos, reports, pamphlets, interventions, press conference statements, interviews, and round table discussions—trace the GIP’s establishment in post-1968 political turmoil, the new models of social activism it pioneered, the prison revolts it supported across France, and the retrospective assessments that followed its denouement. At the same time, Intolerable offers a rich, concrete exploration of Foucault’s concept of resistance, providing a new understanding of the arc of his intellectual development and the genesis of his most influential book, Discipline and Punish.
Presenting the account of France’s most vibrant prison resistance movement in its own words and on its own terms, this significant and relevant collection also connects the approach and activities of the GIP to radical prison resistance movements today.
Ben Langston Ohio University Press, 2020 Library of Congress HV9475.P42S725 2020 | Dewey Decimal 365.92
“Call me what you want—corrections officer, C.O., guard, jailcop, turnkey—I helped keep people there against their will. For this, the jail rewarded me with food.”
When Ben Langston took a job at the State Correctional Institute at Rockview, it was because there were few other options. At his previous job—putting labels on water bottles—he did not have cups of human waste thrown in his face. He did not have to finger sweaty armpits in search of weapons. There were no threats against his life. But the jail paid better.
Jail Speak is a memoir written from a guard’s perspective. It’s about the grind, about dehumanization, drama, punishment, and the cycles of harm perpetrated by the prison industry. It’s about masculinity and conformity and emotional detachment. It’s a look at the inside that you didn’t want to know about, and it’s for mature audiences only. Know your limits.
In his analysis of the current Japanese corrections system, internationally respected criminologist Elmer H. Johnson focuses on three basic questions: What are the characteristics of the major programmatic elements? How do various personnel carry out their programmatic responsibilities? Why are the various duties and activities carried out in a particular way?
Johnson points out that compared with the United States, where prison populations are huge and often violent, Japan incarcerates relatively few criminals. In 1989, for example, Japan locked up only 34 out of every 100,000 citizens while the United States imprisoned people at a rate of 271 per 100,000. Examining the cultural differences leading to this disparity, Johnson notes that in Japan prosecutors are reluctant to refer defendants for trial and the courts often suspend sentences for convicted felons.
In Japan, two bureaus—the Correction Bureau and the Rehabilitation Bureau—administer all Japanese correctional activities. Placing these bureaus in the organizational scheme of the Ministry of Justice, Johnson traces the history, describes the organizational ideologies, and outlines the special features of each.
A central feature of the Japanese penal system is the industrial prison, a concept that met such fierce opposition in the United States that it lost almost all access to the free market by the 1940s. Johnson traces the history of the industrial prison, noting particularly that the industrial operations in adult institutions explain in part why there is almost no violence and why few try to escape. Juvenile institutions enjoy similar success; even though they produce no industrial products, the juvenile training schools emphasize education, vocational training, and counseling.
Japanese correctional officers rely heavily on the community and on unsalaried volunteer probation officers for supervision of probationers and parolees. Although Japanese courts regard probationary supervision as too punitive for most convicted defendants and return many to the community without supervision, the probation caseload is weighty. Johnson describes the responsibilities and operations of the Regional Parole Boards. He also discusses the aid hostels (halfway houses) that are primarily operated by private organizations and that serve released or paroled prisoners.
Johnson sums up by noting that both the Correction Bureau and the Rehabilitation Bureau depend on the overall operations of police, prosecutors, and judges. More broadly, he asserts, both bureaus are creatures of Japanese society and culture. The assets and disadvantages of the bureaus reflect society’s reluctance to sentence defendants to prison and, to a lesser extent, the reluctance to place them on probationary supervision.
Taking readers into the darkness of solitary confinement, this searing collection of convict experiences, academic research, and policy recommendations shines a light on the proliferation of supermax (super-maximum-security) prisons and the detrimental effects of long-term high-security confinement on prisoners and their families.
Stephen C. Richards, an ex-convict who served time in nine federal prisons before earning his PhD in criminology, argues the supermax prison era began in 1983 at USP Marion in southern Illinois, where the first “control units” were built by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Marion Experiment, written from a convict criminology perspective, offers an introduction to long-term solitary confinement and supermax prisons, followed by a series of first-person accounts by prisoners—some of whom are scholars—previously or currently incarcerated in high-security facilities, including some of the roughest prisons in the western world. Scholars also address the widespread “Marionization” of solitary confinement; its impact on female, adolescent, and mentally ill prisoners and families; and international perspectives on imprisonment.
As a bold step toward rethinking supermax prisons, Richards presents the most comprehensive view of the topic to date to raise awareness of the negative aspects of long-term solitary confinement and the need to reevaluate how prisoners are housed and treated.
Asked how the Missouri State Penitentiary compared to other famous prisons, a historian and former prison administrator replied, “ It’s older and meaner.” For 168 years, it was everything other prisons were and more.
In TheMissouri State Penitentiary, Jamie Pamela Rasmussen recounts the long and fascinating history of the place, focusing on the stories of inmates and the struggles by prison officials to provide opportunities for reform while keeping costs down. Tales of prominent prisoners, including Pretty Boy Floyd, Sonny Liston, and James Earl Ray, provide intrigue and insight into the institution’s infamous reputation.
The founding of the penitentiary helped solidify Jefferson City’s position as the state capital. A highlight in the chapter on the Civil War years is the story of George Thompson, who was imprisoned for attempting to help a number of slaves to freedom. The narrative enters the twentieth century with the controversy surrounding the various systems of inmate labor; the effort to make the prison self-supporting eventually caused punishment to be driven by factory needs. The example of Firebug Johnson demonstrates how inmates reacted to the prison labor system while Kate Richards O’Hare’s struggles and efforts to improve conditions in the penitentiary illuminate the role of women in the system at the time. A full chapter is devoted to the riot of 1954, and another concentrates on the reforms made in the wake of that catastrophe. Rasmussen also considers the effect inmate lawsuits during the 1980s and 1990s had on prison life before telling the story of the decision to close the prison.
The Missouri State Penitentiary provides a fitting account of an institution that was part of Missouri’s history for well over a century. Numerous illustrations and a list of recommended reading contribute to the readers’ understanding of the history of the institution.
On Captivity is the first translation into English of Del Cautiverio, Manuel Ciges Aparicio’s account of his imprisonment in the notorious La Cabaña fortress in Havana during the Cuban War of Independence (1895–98).
Ciges enlisted in the Spanish army in 1893 at the age of twenty. He served in Africa and then in Cuba, where he opposed Spanish General Valeriano Weyler’s policies in Cuba as well as the war itself. Ciges soon found himself imprisoned and facing execution for treason as punishment for an article critical of Weyler’s conducting of the war that was intercepted by Spanish authorities before it could be published in the pro-Cuban Parisian paper L’Intransigeant.
First published in book form in 1903, Ciges’s account includes detailed observations concerning prison organization, perceptions of political events and personalities of the time, as well as graphic descriptions of the daily life of the men confined in the infamous prison. Ciges is the only one of the so-called Generation of 1898—writers considered to have been deeply marked by el desastre (the loss of the colonies)—who was in Cuba during the war years. His witness to events there, colored by his stance as a freethinker and political skeptic, constitutes a significant historical document. Following his release from prison, Ciges returned to Spain where he resumed his career as an activist journalist and also earned acclaim as a translator and novelist. In time, his political allegiances shifted from socialism to liberal republicanism. He was acting as provincial governor of Avila when he was killed by unidentified assassins on August 4, 1936—eighteen days after the Falangist uprising against the Second Republic.
This book explores prison arts in Australia, USA, UK, and Chile, and creates a new framework for understanding its practices. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests music, theatre, poetry, and dance can contribute to prisoner wellbeing, management, rehabilitation, and reintegration. Performing Arts in Prison represents a range of distinct perspectives on the subject, from an inspector of prisons to the voice of the prisoner. The book includes a spectrum of arts approaches and models of practice alongside theory, critical commentary, and accounts of personal experience to present a full analysis of the value and effects of creative arts in prison.
In a pathbreaking study of a major state prison, Michigan's Jackson State Penitentiary during the middle years of this century, Charles Bright addresses several aspects of the history and theory of punishment. The study is an institutional history of an American penitentiary, concerned with how a carceral regime was organized and maintained, how prisoners were treated and involved in the creation of a regime of order and how penal practices were explained and defended in public. In addition, it is a meditation upon punishment in modern society and a critical engagement with prevailing theories of punishment coming out of liberal, Marxist and post structuralist traditions. Deploying theory critically in a historic narrative, it applies new, relational theories of power to political institutions and practices. Finally, in studying the history of the Jackson prison, Bright provides a rich account, full of villains and a few heroes, of state politics in Michigan during a period of rapid transition between the 1920s to the 1950s.
The book will be of direct relevance to criminologists and scholars of punishment, and to historians concerned with the history of punishment and prisons in the United States. It will also be useful to political scientists and historians concerned with exploring new approaches to the study of power and with the transformation of state politics in the 1930s and 1940s. Finally Bright tells a story which will fascinate students of modern Michigan history.
Charles Bright is a historian and Lecturer at the Residential College of the University of Michigan.
Of the fifty thousand Americans who declared themselves conscientious objectors during World War II, nearly six thousand went to prison, many serving multiyear sentences in federal lockups. Some conscientious objectors, notably Robert Lowell, William Everson, and William Stafford, went on to become important figures in the literary life of their country, while others were participants and teachers in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. This long out-of-print book, reprinted from the rare original 1951 edition, collects firsthand accounts by conscientious objectors who were imprisoned for their beliefs.
Prison Etiquette is illustrated with eleven line drawings by Lowell Naeve.
Since the mid-nineteenth century, Americans have known the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York as a site of industrial production, a place to heal from disease, and a sprawling outdoor playground that must be preserved in its wild state. Less well known, however, has been the area's role in hosting a network of state and federal prisons. A Prison in the Woods traces the planning, construction, and operation of penitentiaries in five Adirondack Park communities from the 1840s through the early 2000s to demonstrate that the histories of mass incarceration and environmental consciousness are interconnected.
Clarence Jefferson Hall Jr. reveals that the introduction of correctional facilities—especially in the last three decades of the twentieth century—unearthed long-standing conflicts over the proper uses of Adirondack nature, particularly since these sites have contributed to deforestation, pollution, and habitat decline, even as they've provided jobs and spurred economic growth. Additionally, prison plans have challenged individuals' commitment to environmental protection, tested the strength of environmental regulations, endangered environmental and public health, and exposed tensions around race, class, place, and belonging in the isolated prison towns of America's largest state park.
From broken-window policing in Detroit to prison-building in Appalachia, exploring the expansion of the carceral state and its oppressive social relations into everyday life
Prison Land offers a geographic excavation of the prison as a set of social relations—including property, work, gender, and race—enacted across various landscapes of American life. Prisons, Brett Story shows, are more than just buildings of incarceration bound to cycles of crime and punishment. Instead, she investigates the production of carceral power at a range of sites, from buses to coalfields and from blighted cities to urban financial hubs, to demonstrate how the organization of carceral space is ideologically and materially grounded in racial capitalism.
Story’s critically acclaimed film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes is based on the same research that informs this book. In both, Story takes an expansive view of what constitutes contemporary carceral space, interrogating the ways in which racial capitalism is reproduced and for which police technologies of containment and control are employed. By framing the prison as a set of social relations, Prison Land forces us to confront the production of new carceral forms that go well beyond the prison system. In doing so, it profoundly undermines both conventional ideas of prisons as logical responses to the problem of crime and attachment to punishment as the relevant measure of a transformed criminal justice system.
Despite lethal explosions of violence from within and critical assaults from without, it seems certain that prisons will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. Gordon Hawkins argues that certain key issues which attend the use of imprisonment as a penal method must be dealt with realistically. Beginning with a discussion of the ideology of imprisonment and the principal lines of criticism directed at it, Hawkins examines such issues as the prisonization hypothesis (the theory that prisons serve as a training ground for criminals), the role of the prison guard, work in prisons, and the use of prisoners as research subjects for medical experiments. He also deals with the prisoners' rights movement and its implications for the future of prison administration. Hawkins not only makes specific recommendations for reform, he also carefully appraises the barriers which obstruct their implementation.
"Hawkins devotes a large portion of this relatively short book to a discussion of some of the really crucial policy activities that tend to stifle meaningful reform and then goes on to tell how at least some of these policies can be altered. . . . The book concludes with a chapter devoted to a discussion of impediments to change that should be required reading for all serious students of penology."—Choice
"Hawkins has added a much needed down-to-earch analysis of prison. . . . This is not a pessimistic book. It is a realistic book. It avoids the pitfall of utopian and single-factor solutions to an extremely complex problem."—Graeme R. Newman, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Prisons and Patriots provides a detailed account of forty-one Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans), known as the Tucsonians, who were imprisoned for resisting the draft during WWII. Cherstin Lyon parallels their courage as resisters with that of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, well known for his legal battle against curfew and internment, who also resisted the draft. These dual stories highlight the intrinsic relationship between the rights and the obligations of citizenship, particularly salient in times of war.
Lyon considers how wartime civil disobedience has been remembered through history—how soldiers have been celebrated for their valor while resisters have been demonized as unpatriotic. Using archival research and interviews, she presents a complex picture of loyalty and conflict among first-generation Issei and Nisei. Lyon contends that the success of the redress movement has made room for a narrative that neither reduces the wartime confinement to a source of shame nor proffers an uncritical account of heroic individuals.
In Prisons, Race, and Masculinity, Peter Caster demonstrates the centrality of imprisonment in American culture, illustrating how incarceration, an institution inseparable from race, has shaped and continues to shape U.S. history and literature in the starkest expression of what W. E. B. DuBois famously termed “the problem of the color line.”
A prison official in 1888 declared that it was the freeing of slaves that actually created prisons: “we had to establish means for their control. Hence came the penitentiary.” Such rampant racism co ntributed to the criminalization of black masculinity in the cultural imagination, shaping not only the identity of prisoners (collectively and individually) but also America’s national character. Caster analyzes the representations of imprisonment in books, films, and performances, alternating between history and fiction to describe how racism influenced imprisonment during the decline of lynching in the 1930s, the political radicalism in the late 1960s, and the unprecedented prison expansion through the 1980s and 1990s. Offering new interpretations of familiar works by William Faulkner, Eldridge Cleaver, and Norman Mailer, Caster also engages recent films such as American History X, The Hurricane, and The Farm: Life Inside Angola Prison alongside prison history chronicled in the transcripts of the American Correctional Association. This book offers a compelling account of how imprisonment has functioned as racial containment, a matter critical to U.S. history and literary study.
Challenging the ideology of treatment in the prison world
The Professional Convict’s Tale: The Survival of John O’Neill In and Out of Prison offers a unique, inside view of life behind bars in the 1960s. Elmer H. Johnson, a criminologist who has specialized in prison life for half a century, gave Menard Penitentiary parolee John O’Neill a tape recorder and a set of questions designed to draw out his opinions and observations about the prison world.
This study frames O’Neill’s responses with Johnson’s analysis. O’Neill’s narrative guides readers through the world beyond the prison gate as he shares his strategies for survival and proposes alternatives to rebellion or submission. He discusses the fractionalization between the keepers and the kept and the effects that subterranean communication, threats of inmate predators, and prison riots can have on the psyche of both inmates and staff.
O’Neill’s frustrations and the inadequate responses from the community to which he was paroled illustrate the social costs and impact of parole for the community and for the parolee. Although O’Neill recorded his comments more than forty years ago, they are still relevant today when thousands of convicts are being released from prison each year.
Throughout the nineteenth century the idyllic island of Fernando de Noronha, which lies two hundred miles off Brazil's northeastern coast, was home to Brazil's largest forced labor penal colony. In Punishment in Paradise Peter M. Beattie uses Noronha as a case study to understand nineteenth-century Brazil's varied social and cultural values, especially in relation to justice, class, color, civil condition, human rights and labor. As Brazil’s slave population declined after 1850, the use of colonial-era disciplinary practices at Noronha—such as flogging and forced labor—stoked anxieties about human rights and Brazil’s international image. Beattie contends that the treatment of slaves, convicts, and other social categories subject to coercive labor extraction were interconnected and that reforms that benefitted one of these categories made them harder to deny to others. In detailing Noronha's history and the end of slavery as part of an international expansion of human rights, Beattie places Brazil firmly in the purview of Atlantic history.
Raúl Salinas is regarded as one of today's most important Chicano poets and human rights activists, but his passage to this place of distinction took him through four of the most brutal prisons in the country. His singular journey from individual alienation to rage to political resistance reflected the social movements occurring inside and outside of prison, making his story both personal and universal. This groundbreaking collection of Salinas' journalism and personal correspondence from his years of incarceration and following his release provides a unique perspective into his spiritual, intellectual, and political metamorphosis. The book also offers an insider's view of the prison rebellion movement and its relation to the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The numerous letters between Salinas and his family, friends, and potential allies illustrate his burgeoning political awareness of the cause and conditions of his and his comrades' incarceration and their link to the larger political and historical web of social relations between dominant and subaltern groups. These collected pieces, as well as two interviews with Salinas—one conducted upon his release from prison in 1972, the second more than two decades later—reveal to readers the transformation of Salinas from a street hipster to a man seeking to be a part of something larger than himself. Louis Mendoza has painstakingly compiled a body of work that is autobiographical, politically insurgent, and representative.
To examine government policy and state practice on housing, welfare, mental health, disability, prisons or immigration is to come face-to-face with the harsh realities of the 'punitive state'. But state violence and corporate harm always meet with resistance. With contributions from a wide range of activists and scholars, Resist the Punitive State highlights and theorises the front line of resistance movements actively opposing the state-corporate nexus. The chapters engage with different strategies of resistance in a variety of movements and campaigns. In doing so the book considers what we can learn from involvement in grassroots struggles, and contributes to contemporary debates around the role and significance of subversive knowledge and engaged scholarship in activism. Aimed at activists and campaigners plus students, researchers and educators in criminology, social policy, sociology, social work and the social sciences more broadly, Resist the Punitive State not only presents critiques of a range of harmful state-corporate policy agendas but situates these in the context of social movement struggles fighting for political transformation and alternative futures.
Nearly a century has passed since Kropotkin wrote In Russian and French Prisons, yet his criticisms of the penal system have lost none of their relevance. Prisons- far from reforming the offender, or deterring crime- are, in themselves, “schools of crime”. Every year, thousands of prisoners are returned to society without hope, without a trade, or without nay means of subsistence, and statistics show that once a man has been in prison he is likely to return. Moreover, the new offense is likely to be more serious than the first.
Although Kropotkin makes extensive use of the memoirs of former prisoners and the works of contemporary penologists, it is his own experience in prison--he spent five years behind bars, two in Russia, three in France--that gives this book its power. He shows from first hand knowledge the immense human suffering caused by prison life: how it destroys the mind and body, how it degrades and humiliates, how it perverts the prisoner’s character and robs him of his dignity, how it reduces him to the condition of a caged animal, how his whole life is subjected to a deadly mechanical routine, how everything is done to break his spirit and kill his inner strength.
In Russian and French Prisons is the 6th volume of The Collected Works of Peter Kropotkin.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the 1991 edition by George Woodcock
Author’s preface to the Russian edition (1906)
I. My first acquaintance with Russian prisons
II. Russian prisons
III. The fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul
IV. Outcast Russia
V. The exile in Siberia
VI. The exile of Sakhalin
VII. A foreigner in Russian prisons
VIII. In French prisons
IX. On the moral influence of prisons on prisoners
X. Are prisons necessary?
Appendix A- Trial of the Soldiers accused of having carried Letters from Alexis Ravelin
Appendix B- On the part played by the Exiles in the Colonization of Siberia
Appendix C- Extract from a Report on “Administrative Exile,” read by M. Shakeeff at the Sitting of the St. Petersburg Nobility on February 17, 1881
The Scale of Imprisonment
Franklin E. Zimring and Gordon J. Hawkins University of Chicago Press, 1991 Library of Congress HV9469.Z56 1991 | Dewey Decimal 365.973
Two of the nation's foremost criminal justice scholars present a comprehensive assessment of the factors behind the growth and subsequent overcrowding of American prisons. By critiquing the existing scholarship on prison scale from sociology and history to correctional forecasting and economics, they both reveal that explicit policy changes have had little influence on the increases in imprisonment in recent years and analyze whether it is possible to place limits effectively on prison population.
"The Scale of Imprisonment has an exceptionally well designed literature review of interest to public policy, criminal justice, and public law scholars. Its careful review, analysis, and critique of research is stimulating and inventive."—American Political Science Review
"The authors fram our thoughts about the soaring use of imprisonment and stimulate our thinking about the best way we as criminologists can conduct rational analysis and provide meaningful advice."—Susan Guarino-Ghezzi, Journal of Quantitative Criminology
"Zimring and Hawkins bring a long tradition of excellent criminological scholarship to the seemingly intractable problems of prisons, prison overcrowding, and the need for alternative forms of punishment."—J. C. Watkins, Jr., Choice
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent archival revolution, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s famous “literary investigation” The Gulag Archipelago was the most authoritative overview of the Stalinist system of camps. But modern research is developing a much more thorough and nuanced understanding of the Gulag. There is a greater awareness of the wide variety of camps, many not isolated in far-off Siberia; prisoners often intermingled with local populations. The forced labor system was not completely distinct from the “free” labor of ordinary Soviet citizens, as convicts and non-prisoners often worked side-by-side. Nor was the Gulag unique when viewed in a global historical context.
Still, the scale and scope of the Soviet Gulag was unprecedented. Intrinsic to Stalinist modernization, the Gulag was tasked with the construction of massive public works, scientific and engineering projects, and such mundane work as road repairs. Along with the collectivization of agriculture, the Soviet economy (including its military exertions in World War II) was in large part dependent on compulsory labor. The camp system took on an outsized economic significance, and the vast numbers of people taken in by zealous secret police were meant to fulfill material, not just political, goals. While the Soviet system lacked the explicitly dedicated extermination camps of its Nazi counterpart, it did systematically extract work from inmates to the verge of death then cynically “released” them to reduce officially reported mortality rates.
In an original turn, the book offers a detailed consideration of the Gulag in the context of the similar camps and systems of internment. Chapters are devoted to the juxtaposition of nineteenth-century British concentration camps in Africa and India, the Tsarist-era system of exile in Siberia, Chinese and North Korean reeducation camps, the post-Soviet penal system in the Russian Federation, and of course the infamous camp system of Nazi Germany. This not only reveals the close relatives, antecedents, and descendants of the Soviet Gulag—it shines a light on a frighteningly widespread feature of late modernity.
Overall, The Soviet Gulag offers fascinating new interpretations of the interrelationship and importance of the Gulag to the larger Soviet political and economic system, and how they were in fact parts of the same entity.
Tall Walls and High Fences
Bob Alexander University of North Texas Press, 2020 Library of Congress HV9475.T4A54 2020 | Dewey Decimal 365.9764
Teach the Free Man: Stories
Peter Nathaniel Malae Ohio University Press, 2007 Library of Congress PS3613.A423T43 2007 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
The twelve stories in Teach the Free Man mark the impressive debut of Peter Nathaniel Malae. The subject of incarceration thematically links the stories, yet their range extends beyond the prison’s barbed wire and iron bars. Avoiding sensationalism, Malae exposes the heart and soul in those dark, seemingly inaccessible corridors of the human experience.
The stories, often raw and startlingly honest, are distinguished by the colloquial voices of California’s prison inmates, who, despite their physical and cultural isolation, confront dilemmas with which we can all identify: the choice to show courage against peer pressure; the search for individual rights within a bureaucracy; and the desperate desire for honor in the face of great sacrifice. These stories present polished and poetic examples of finding something redemptive in the least among us.
The book’s epigraph by W. H. Auden, from which the book takes its title, exemplifies the spirit of these dynamic stories:
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start.
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
“I hole up in my own cozy cubicle and write, considering ways to make the approaching Thanksgiving holiday not just another day in this place. In prison, hope faces east; time is measured in wake-ups.”
Time of Grace is a remarkable book, written with great eloquence by a former science teacher who was incarcerated for twelve years for his sexual liaison with a teenage student. Far more than a “prison memoir,” it is an intimate and revealing look at relationships—with fellow humans and with the surprising wildlife of the Sonoran Desert, both inside and beyond prison walls. Throughout, Ken Lamberton reflects on human relations as they mimic and defy those of the natural world, whose rhythms calibrate Lamberton’s days and years behind bars. He writes with candor about his life, while observing desert flora and fauna with the insight and enthusiasm of a professional naturalist.
While he studies a tarantula digging her way out of the packed earth and observes Mexican freetail bats sailing into the evening sky, Lamberton ruminates on his crime and on the wrenching effects it has had on his wife and three daughters. He writes of his connections with his fellow inmates—some of whom he teaches in prison classes—and with the guards who control them, sometimes with inexplicable cruelty. And he unflinchingly describes a prison system that has gone horribly wrong—a system entrapped in a self-created web of secrecy, fear, and lies.
This is the final book of Lamberton’s trilogy about the twelve years he spent in prison. Readers of his earlier books will savor this last volume. Those who are only now discovering Lamberton’s distinctive voice—part poet, part scientist, part teacher, and always deeply, achingly human—will feel as if they are making a new friend.
Gripping, sobering, and beautifully written, Lamberton’s memoir is an unforgettable exploration of crime, punishment, and the power of the human spirit.
The United States has more than two million people locked away in federal, state, and local prisons. Although most of the U.S. population is non-Hispanic and white, the vast majority of the incarcerated—and policed—is not. In this compelling collection, scholars, activists, and current and former prisoners examine the sensibilities that enable a penal democracy to thrive. Some pieces are new to this volume; others are classic critiques of U.S. state power. Through biography, diary entries, and criticism, the contributors collectively assert that the United States wages war against enemies abroad and against its own people at home.
Contributors consider the interning or policing of citizens of color, the activism of radicals, structural racism, destruction and death in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and the FBI Counterintelligence Program designed to quash domestic dissent. Among the first-person accounts are an interview with Dhoruba Bin Wahad, a Black Panther and former political prisoner; a portrayal of life in prison by a Plowshares nun jailed for her antinuclear and antiwar activism; a discussion of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement by one of its members, now serving a seventy-year prison sentence for sedition; and an excerpt from a 1970 letter by the Black Panther George Jackson chronicling the abuses of inmates in California’s Soledad Prison. Warfare in the American Homeland also includes the first English translation of an excerpt from a pamphlet by Michel Foucault and others. They argue that the 1971 shooting of George Jackson by prison guards was a murder premeditated in response to human-rights and justice organizing by black and brown prisoners and their supporters.
Contributors. Hishaam Aidi, Dhoruba Bin Wahad (Richard Moore), Marilyn Buck, Marshall Eddie Conway, Susie Day, Daniel Defert, Madeleine Dwertman, Michel Foucault, Carol Gilbert, Sirène Harb, Rose Heyer, George Jackson, Joy James, Manning Marable, William F. Pinar, Oscar Lòpez Rivera, Dylan Rodríguez, Jared Sexton, Catherine vön Bulow, Laura Whitehorn, Frank B. Wilderson III
Following the Attica prison uprising in September 1971, Celes Tisdale—a poet and then professor at Buffalo State College—began leading poetry workshops with those incarcerated at Attica. Tisdale’s workshop created a space of radical Black creativity and solidarity, in which poets who lived through the uprising were able to turn their experiences into poetry. The poems written by Tisdale’s students were published as Betcha Ain’t: Poems from Attica in 1974. When the Smoke Cleared contains the entirety of Betcha Ain’t, Tisdale’s own poems and journal entries from the three years he taught at Attica, a previously unpublished collection of poems by Attica poets, and a critical introduction by poet Mark Nowak. In addition to the poetry, Tisdale’s journal entries give readers a unique opportunity to experience what it was like to enter Attica as an educator and return week after week to discuss poetry. When the Smoke Cleared showcases these poets’ achievements, their desire for self-determination, and their historical role as storytellers of Black life in a prison monitored exclusively by white guards and administrators.
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government adopted a series of counterterrorism policies that radically altered the prevailing balance between civil liberties and security. These changes allowed for warrantless domestic surveillance, military commissions at Guantanamo Bay and even extralegal assassinations. Now, more than a decade after 9/11, these sharply contested measures appear poised to become lasting features of American government. What do Americans think about these policies? Where do they draw the line on what the government is allowed to do in the name of fighting terrorism? Drawing from a wealth of survey and experimental data, Whose Rights? explores the underlying sources of public attitudes toward the war on terror in a more detailed and comprehensive manner than has ever been attempted. In an analysis that deftly deploys the tools of political science and psychology, Whose Rights? addresses a vexing puzzle: Why does the counterterrorism agenda persist even as 9/11 recedes in time and the threat from Al Qaeda wanes? Authors Clem Brooks and Jeff Manza provocatively argue that American opinion, despite traditionally showing strong support for civil liberties, exhibits a “dark side” that tolerates illiberal policies in the face of a threat. Surveillance of American citizens, heightened airport security, the Patriot Act and targeted assassinations enjoy broad support among Americans, and these preferences have remained largely stable over the past decade. There are, however, important variations: Waterboarding and torture receive notably low levels of support, and counterterrorism activities sanctioned by formal legislation, as opposed to covert operations, tend to draw more favor. To better evaluate these trends, Whose Rights? examines the concept of “threat-priming” and finds that getting people to think about the specter of terrorism bolsters anew their willingness to support coercive measures. A series of experimental surveys also yields fascinating insight into the impact of national identity cues. When respondents are primed to think that American citizens would be targeted by harsh counterterrorism policies, support declines significantly. On the other hand, groups such as Muslims, foreigners, and people of Middle Eastern background elicit particularly negative attitudes and increase support for counterterrorism measures. Under the right conditions, Brooks and Manza show, American support for counterterrorism activities can be propelled upward by simple reminders of past terrorism plots and communication about disliked external groups. Whose Rights? convincingly argues that mass opinion plays a central role in the politics of contemporary counterterrorism policy. With their clarity and compelling evidence, Brooks and Manza offer much-needed insight into the policy responses to the defining conflict of our age and the psychological impact of terrorism.
Between 1975 and 2007, the American incarceration rate increased nearly fivefold, a historic increase that puts the United States in a league of its own among advanced economies. We incarcerate more people today than we ever have, and we stand out as the nation that most frequently uses incarceration to punish those who break the law. What factors explain the dramatic rise in incarceration rates in such a short period of time? In Why Are So Many Americans in Prison? Steven Raphael and Michael A. Stoll analyze the shocking expansion of America’s prison system and illustrate the pressing need to rethink mass incarceration in this country. Raphael and Stoll carefully evaluate changes in crime patterns, enforcement practices and sentencing laws to reach a sobering conclusion: So many Americans are in prison today because we have chosen, through our public policies, to put them there. They dispel the notion that a rise in crime rates fueled the incarceration surge; in fact, crime rates have steadily declined to all-time lows. There is also little evidence for other factors commonly offered to explain the prison boom, such as the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill since the 1950s, changing demographics, or the crack-cocaine epidemic. By contrast, Raphael and Stoll demonstrate that legislative changes to a relatively small set of sentencing policies explain nearly all prison growth since the 1980s. So-called tough on crime laws, including mandatory minimum penalties and repeat offender statutes, have increased the propensity to punish more offenders with lengthier prison sentences. Raphael and Stoll argue that the high-incarceration regime has inflicted broad social costs, particularly among minority communities, who form a disproportionate share of the incarcerated population. Why Are So Many Americans in Prison? ends with a powerful plea to consider alternative crime control strategies, such as expanded policing, drug court programs, and sentencing law reform, which together can end our addiction to incarceration and still preserve public safety. As states confront the budgetary and social costs of the incarceration boom, Why Are So Many Americans in Prison? provides a revealing and accessible guide to the policies that created the era of mass incarceration and what we can do now to end it.
Women Guarding Men
Lynn Zimmer University of Chicago Press, 1986 Library of Congress HV9470.Z56 1986 | Dewey Decimal 365.6
The hiring of women as guards in men's prisons represents a major breakthrough in women's efforts to achieve full sexual equality in the workplace. This dramatic social change has required great flexibility on the part of the women guards as well as substantial adjustments by their male counterparts, prison administrators, and the inmates themselves. In the first comprehensive study of this phenomenon, Lynn Zimmer examines the experiences of the women and men involved in the painful process of transition from a segregated to an integrated prison environment. Women Guarding Men is significant not only for its vivid depiction of their trials, but for its contribution to a general theory of women's occupational and organizational behavior.