Preparing Convicts for Law-Abiding Lives: The Pioneering Penology of Richard A. McGee

SUNY Press
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This analysis of corrections’ pioneer Richard A. McGee draws upon his many lucid writings, on comments by those who worked closely with him, and on interviews with McGee himself and others. This book interprets his efforts, accomplishments, and limitations in their historical context, yet relates them all to current possibilities and problems in crime control.

In 23 years of directing California corrections, and in his national leadership that included 16 active years following retirement, McGee promoted both reformation and control of convicts. His efforts helped make staffing prisons a non-political career service, improved inmate academic and vocational education, divided large prisons into quite autonomous smaller units, expanded treatment for drug addicts, fostered prisoner contacts with their families, and encouraged new types of counseling. He also developed more intensive supervision and assistance for both parolees and probationers. And, perhaps most importantly, he created a golden age for rigorous evaluation research in corrections, including assessment of practices by controlled experiments. He brilliantly gained both bipartisan support for these innovations and for changes in criminal laws.
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About the author

Daniel Glaser, Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California, is Past President of the American Society of Criminology, of the Illinois Academy of Criminology, and of California’s Association for Criminal Justice Research.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781438404165
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Criminology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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When a woman leaves prison, she enters a world of competing messages and conflicting advice.  Staff from prison, friends, family members, workers at halfway houses and treatment programs all have something to say about who she is, who she should be, and what she should do.  The Ex-Prisoner’s Dilemma offers an in-depth, firsthand look at how the former prisoner manages messages about returning to the community. 

Over the course of a year, Andrea Leverentz conducted repeated interviews with forty-nine women as they adjusted to life outside of prison and worked to construct new ideas of themselves as former prisoners and as mothers, daughters, sisters, romantic partners, friends, students, and workers.  Listening to these women, along with their family members, friends, and co-workers, Leverentz pieces together the narratives they have created to explain their past records and guide their future behavior.  She traces where these narratives came from and how they were shaped by factors such as gender, race, maternal status, age, and experiences in prison, halfway houses, and twelve-step programs—factors that in turn shaped the women’s expectations for themselves, and others’ expectations of them.  The women’s stories form a powerful picture of the complex, complicated human experience behind dry statistics and policy statements regarding prisoner reentry into society for women, how the experience is different for men and the influence society plays.

With its unique view of how society’s mixed messages play out in ex-prisoners’ lived realities, The Ex-Prisoner’s Dilemma shows the complexity of these women’s experiences within the broad context of the war on drugs and mass incarceration in America. It offers invaluable lessons for helping such women successfully rejoin society.
Voices From American Prisons: Faith, Education and Healing is a comprehensive and unique contribution to understanding the dynamics and nature of penal confinement. In this book, author Kaia Stern describes the history of punishment and prison education in the United States and proposes that specific religious and racial ideologies - notions of sin, evil and otherness - continue to shape our relationship to crime and punishment through contemporary penal policy. Inspired by people who have lived, worked, and studied in U.S. prisons, Stern invites us to rethink the current ‘punishment crisis’ in the United States.

Based on in-depth interviews with people who were incarcerated, as well as extensive conversations with students, teachers, corrections staff, and prison administrators, the book introduces the voices of those who have participated in the few remaining post-secondary education programs that exist behind bars. Drawing on individual narrative and various modern day case examples, Stern focuses on dehumanization, resistance, and community transformation. She demonstrates how prison education is essential, can provide healing, and yet is still not enough to interrupt mass incarceration. In short, this book explores the possibility of transformation from a retributive punishment system to a system of justice.

The book’s engaging, human accounts and multidisciplinary perspective will appeal to criminologists, sociologists, historians, theologians and scholars of education alike. Voices from American Prisons will also capture general readers who are interested in learning about a timely and often silenced reality of contemporary modern society.

The opening, in 1876, of the Elmira Reformatory marked the birth of the American adult reformatory movement and the introduction of a new approach to crime and the treatment of criminals. Hailed as a reform panacea and the humane solution to America's ongoing crisis of crime and social disorder, Elmira sparked an ideological revolution. Repression and punishment were supposedly out. Academic and vocational education, military drill, indeterminate sentencing and parole—"benevolent reform"—were now considered instrumental to instilling in prisoners a respect for God, law, and capitalism.
Not so, says Al Pisciotta, in this highly original, startling, and revealing work. Drawing upon previously unexamined sources from over a half-dozen states and a decade of research, Pisciotta explodes the myth that Elmira and other institutions of "the new penology" represented a significant advance in the treatment of criminals and youthful offenders.
The much-touted programs failed to achieve their goals; instead, prisoners, under Superintendent Zebulon Brockway, considered the Father of American Corrections, were whipped with rubber hoses and two-foot leather straps, restricted to bread and water in dark dungeons during months of solitary confinement, and brutally subjected to a wide range of other draconian psychological and physical abuses intended to pound them into submission. Escapes, riots, violence, drugs, suicide, arson, and rape were the order of the day in these prisons, hardly conducive to the transformation of "dangerous criminal classes into Christian gentleman," as was claimed. Reflecting the racism and sexism in the social order in general, the new penology also legitimized the repression of the lower classes.
Highlighting the disparity between promise and practice in America's prisons, Pisciotta draws on seven inmate case histories to illustrate convincingly that the "March of Progress" was nothing more than a reversion to the ways of old. In short, the adult reformatory movement promised benevolent reform but delivered benevolent repression—a pattern that continues to this day.
A vital contribution to the history of crime, corrections, and criminal justice, this book will also have a major impact on our thinking about contemporary corrections and issues surrounding crime, punishment, and social control.
The past 30 years have seen vast changes in our attitudes toward crime. More and more of us live in gated communities; prison populations have skyrocketed; and issues such as racial profiling, community policing, and "zero-tolerance" policies dominate the headlines. How is it that our response to crime and our sense of criminal justice has come to be so dramatically reconfigured? David Garland charts the changes in crime and criminal justice in America and Britain over the past twenty-five years, showing how they have been shaped by two underlying social forces: the distinctive social organization of late modernity and the neoconservative politics that came to dominate the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1980s.

Garland explains how the new policies of crime and punishment, welfare and security—and the changing class, race, and gender relations that underpin them—are linked to the fundamental problems of governing contemporary societies, as states, corporations, and private citizens grapple with a volatile economy and a culture that combines expanded personal freedom with relaxed social controls. It is the risky, unfixed character of modern life that underlies our accelerating concern with control and crime control in particular. It is not just crime that has changed; society has changed as well, and this transformation has reshaped criminological thought, public policy, and the cultural meaning of crime and criminals. David Garland's The Culture of Control offers a brilliant guide to this process and its still-reverberating consequences.
Named one of the most important nonfiction books of the 21st century by Entertainment Weekly‚ Slate‚ Chronicle of Higher Eduction‚ Literary Hub, Book Riot‚ and Zora

A tenth-anniversary edition of the iconic bestseller—“one of the most influential books of the past 20 years,” according to the Chronicle of Higher Education—with a new preface by the author

“It is in no small part thanks to Alexander’s account that civil rights organizations such as Black Lives Matter have focused so much of their energy on the criminal justice system.”
—Adam Shatz, London Review of Books

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.”

Now, ten years after it was first published, The New Press is proud to issue a tenth-anniversary edition with a new preface by Michelle Alexander that discusses the impact the book has had and the state of the criminal justice reform movement today.

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