Are Prisons Obsolete?

Are Prisons Obsolete?

Book - 2003
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From the Publisher: Amid rising public concern about the proliferation and privatization of prisons, and their promise of enormous profits, world-renowned author and activist Angela Y. Davis argues for the abolition of the prison system as the dominant way of responding to America's social ills. "In thinking about the possible obsolescence of the prison," Davis writes, "we should ask how it is that so many people could end up in prison without major debates regarding the efficacy of incarceration." Whereas Reagan-era politicians with "tough on crime" stances argued that imprisonment and longer sentences would keep communities free of crime, history has shown that the practice of mass incarceration during that period has had little or no effect on official crime rates: in fact, larger prison populations led not to safer communities but to even larger prison populations. As we make our way into the twenty-first century-two hundred years after the invention of the penitentiary-the question of prison abolition has acquired an unprecedented urgency. Backed by growing numbers of prisons and prisoners, Davis analyzes these institutions in the U.S., arguing that the very future of democracy depends on our ability to develop radical theories and practices that make it possible to plan and fight for a world beyond the prison industrial complex
Publisher: New York : Seven Stories Press, c2003
ISBN: 9781583225813
1583225811
Characteristics: 128 p. ; 18 cm

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a
azuki
Jan 05, 2018

This small book packs a powerful punch, in just 128 pages (including a resource list and endnotes). I imagine that most people who read this are at least curious about a world without prisons, rather than mere reform -- but Angela Davis' concise and compelling work truly has something for everyone, whether or not you believe that incarceration is the most effective response to crime. Over six chapters, Davis shares her thorough research on the history of prisons, their racist and sexist foundations, and the rise of the prison industrial complex. "What, then, would it mean to imagine a system in which punishment is not allowed to become the source of corporate profit? How can we imagine a society in which race and class are not primary determinants of punishment? Or one in which punishment itself is no longer the central concern in the making of justice?" These questions, which are asked in the last few pages of the book, don't get entirely answered here. But readers who are willing to engage the intersections of racial, gender, disability, and transformative/restorative justice through Davis' writing will certainly have their imaginations stirred by the possibilities this book provides.

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