Slavery and the Penal System

Classics of Law & Society

Book 27
Quid Pro Books
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The classic and groundbreaking study of penal slavery throughout the ages is available again. Previously a rare book, despite the fact that it is widely quoted and cited by scholars in the field of sociology, penology, and criminology, this book can now be accessed easily worldwide and be assigned again to classes. Now in its fortieth anniversary edition, Sellin's classic Slavery and the Penal System adds a new Foreword by Barry Krisberg at Berkeley.

This edition also incorporates changes the author originally planned for a second printing, provided to Quid Pro Books by the Library Special Collections at Penn and authorized by his family. Part of the Classics of Law & Society Series from Quid Pro Books, the anniversary edition also includes explanatory Notes of the Series Editor by Steven Alan Childress, senior professor of law at Tulane University. 

A book that has become a standard part of the canon in its field, but over time grew to be too expensive for researchers and libraries to obtain, is now easily downloaded in a well-formatted ebook. Other features include linked Contents and notes, fully linked and paginated Index, and close reading of the text against the original so that its legacy is properly and accurately presented. 

This book traces the direct and indirect influences of the social institution of chattel slavery on the evolution of penal systems and practices in Europe and the United States — a dismal story. The author reveals the darkest and most brutal aspects of penal history and the social forces that resisted or nullified the efforts of reformers who sought to bring about humanization of the punishment. The book shows that domestic punishments inflicted on slaves by masters later become legal punishments for crimes committed by low-class freedmen — eventually to become legal sanctions against offenders regardless of social status. A dominant force is the class and caste structure of society that is reflected in the determination of what conduct should be defined as criminal, who should be punished, and what the punishment should be. Topics include ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages in Europe, galley slaves and naval arsenal prisons in maritime countries, penal creation of public works, the rise of houses of correction, invention of the treadmill, practices in England and Russia, slavery in the antebellum South, and twentieth-century U.S. chain gangs, penal farms, and convict-lease system. 

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About the author

Johan Thorsten Sellin (1896–1994) was a renowned sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, recognized for his work as a penologist and as one of the pioneers of scientific criminology. He taught at Penn from 1922 until he retired in 1967. Sellin was an expert in crime statistics and consulted with the FBI, the Bureau of the Census, and the UN to improve crime reporting. A long-time president of the International Society of Criminology, he also edited the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science for 39 years. 
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Additional Information

Quid Pro Books
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Published on
Apr 29, 2016
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Law / Criminal Law / Sentencing
Social Science / Criminology
Social Science / Penology
Social Science / Slavery
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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First published in 1985, this classic of law and society scholarship continues to shape the research agenda of today’s sociology of punishment. It is now republished with a new Preface by the author.

Punishment and Welfare explores the relation of punishment to politics, the historical formation and development of criminology, and the way in which penal reform grew out of the complex set of political projects that founded the modern welfare state. Its analyses powerfully illuminate many of the central problems of contemporary penal and welfare policy, showing how these problems grew out of political struggles and theoretical debates that occurred in the first years of the 20th century.

In conducting this investigation, David Garland developed a method of research which combines detailed historical and textual analysis with a broader sociological vision, thereby synthesizing two forms of analysis that are more often developed in isolation. The resulting genealogy will interest everyone who works in this field.

“… a brilliant book … the main arguments of Punishment and Welfare are undoubtedly some of the most tenacious and exciting to emerge from the field of criminology in many years.”
— Piers Bierne, Contemporary Sociology

“… one of the most important pieces of work ever to emerge in British criminology. It is a study of depth, subtlety and complexity … Garland’s integration of close historical details with a broader sociological vision provides a model methodology….”
— Stan Cohen, British Journal of Criminology

“This study shows how early 20th-century penal policy was a function of the nation’s social welfare practices. Garland’s theory is as applicable to the 21st century as it is to that earlier era: A tour de force.”
— Malcolm Feeley, University of California–Berkeley

The classic political and legal study of how the early years of formation of the European Union relied on consensus and legal processes — but not an analogy to federalization as in U.S. Constitutional law — to evolve integration and respect for higher authority than national law. Rather he found the truer path to political integration through regional decision-making, and in a concept of "law" that is more flexible and openly political than constitutional scholars would concede. The study remains an important glimpse of the processes and institutions of law and politics that lead to greater political unity. Law and lawyers were involved in these early steps in European integration, as shown by political activity and research more than by the customary analysis of doctrine. 

Part of the Classics of Law & Society Series of Quid Pro Books, this book is recognized as a fundamental contribution to the developing conceptualization of the E.U. through law and politics. It was originally published in the Occasional Papers Series of the Harvard University Center for International Affairs. It is introduced and explained in its 2011 edition by E.U. expert Jörg Fedtke, a senior law professor at Tulane University. More recent studies confirm this line of inquiry, writes Fedtke, and “show just how topical the core ideas of THE LAW IN POLITICAL INTEGRATION remain today.”

Quality digital edition includes linked notes and active Contents, legible tables from the print edition, and proper ebook formatting.

THE ROOSEVELT COURT is a brilliant analysis of Supreme Court decisions during a crucial decade in the Supreme Court’s history, by a political scientist “interested in the social and psychological origins of judicial attitudes and the influence of individual predilections on the development of law.” A much-cited classic of the Court and judicial decision-making from the point of view of social science and not just doctrine, this work is at last available in a convenient and well-formatted digital edition. The presentation includes active Contents, linked notes, and all tables and graphics from the original edition.

“One of the most informative, judicious, and illuminating of all the books on our judicial history.”
— Henry Steele Commager

“His analysis is continuously interesting to the general student of the Court.... Excellent analysis of the subject matter of Court opinions.... No one has done a better job of catching the true meaning of the Supreme Court’s role as an instrumentality of government, or of putting that meaning into striking yet comprehensible language.... No better brief summary of the constitutional law of [this] decade can be found anywhere. Finally, the book Is studded with wise insights into the nature of judicial review and the business of the Supreme Court.”
— American Historical Review

“Provocative, well-written, and adventurous.”
— The New York Times

“Written in an easy style, free of dogma, and interspersed with a sense of humor, it will solve for many the enigma of seven justices appointed by the same President and presumably endowed with a kindred social outlook attaining unprecedented heights of disagreement.”
— Christian Science Monitor

The 2014 digital representation of this important and still-cited work is an authorized and unabridged republication of all previous printed editions, instructing generations of court-watchers how such research is done and what it means to this important moment in constitutional history. Part of the Classics of Law & Society Series from Quid Pro Books.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time


Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction • Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction • Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award • Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize • An American Library Association Notable Book

“Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”—David Cole, The New York Review of Books

“Searing, moving . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela.”—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

“You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. . . . The message of this book . . . is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review

“Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he’s also a gifted writer and storyteller.”—The Washington Post

“As deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty.”—The Financial Times

“Brilliant.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”—John Grisham

“Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal heroes, perhaps the most inspiring and influential crusader for justice alive today, and Just Mercy is extraordinary. The stories told within these pages hold the potential to transform what we think we mean when we talk about justice.”—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
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