Marie Gottschalk is an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She has a PhD in political science from Yale University and an MPA from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She is the author of The Shadow Welfare State: Labor, Business, and the Politics of Health Care in the United States (Cornell University Press, 2000). She is a a former associate editor of World Policy Journal and a former associate director of the World Policy Institute in New York City.
Most Western democracies have few or no people serving life sentences, yet here in the United States more than 200,000 people are sentenced to such prison terms.
Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis of The Sentencing Project argue that there is no practical or moral justification for a sentence longer than twenty years. Harsher sentences have been shown to have little effect on crime rates, since people “age out” of crime—meaning that we’re spending a fortune on geriatric care for older prisoners who pose little threat to public safety. Extreme punishment for serious crime also has an inflationary effect on sentences across the spectrum, helping to account for severe mandatory minimums and other harsh punishments.
A thoughtful and stirring call to action, The Meaning of Life also features moving profiles of a half dozen people affected by life sentences, written by former “lifer” and award-winning writer Kerry Myers. The book will tie in to a campaign spearheaded by The Sentencing Project and offers a much-needed road map to a more humane criminal justice system.
David Garland and his excellent range of criminological contributors go well beyond this by showing how to start thinking (and arguing) about what these unprecedented statistics might mean for all modern societies' - Professor Stan Cohen, Department of Sociology, LSE
This major new volume of papers by leading criminologists, sociologists and historians, sets out what is known about the political and penological causes of the phenomenon of mass imprisonment.
Mass imprisonment, American-style, involves the penal segregation of large numbers of the poor and minorities. Imprisonment has become a central institution for the social control of the urban poor.
Other countries are now looking to the USA to see what should be learned from this massive and controversial social experiment. This book describes mass imprisonment's impact upon crime, upon the minority communities most affected, upon social policy and, more broadly upon national culture. This is a book that all penologists and policy makers should read.
With a new preface evaluating the effectiveness of recent proposals to reform mass incarceration, Caught offers a bracing appraisal of the politics of penal reform.
In the prison business, all roads lead to Texas. The most locked-down state in the nation has led the way in criminal justice severity, from assembly-line executions to isolation supermaxes, from prison privatization to sentencing juveniles as adults. Texas Tough, a sweeping history of American imprisonment from the days of slavery to the present, shows how a plantation-based penal system once dismissed as barbaric became the national template.
Drawing on convict accounts, official records, and interviews with prisoners, guards, and lawmakers, historian Robert Perkinson reveals the Southern roots of our present-day prison colossus. While conventional histories emphasize the North's rehabilitative approach, he shows how the retributive and profit-driven regime of the South ultimately triumphed. Most provocatively, he argues that just as convict leasing and segregation emerged in response to Reconstruction, so today's mass incarceration, with its vast racial disparities, must be seen as a backlash against civil rights.
Illuminating for the first time the origins of America's prison juggernaut, Texas Tough points toward a more just and humane future.