Are Prisons Obsolete?

Are Prisons Obsolete?

Book - 2003
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Since the 1980s prison construction and incarceration rates in the U.S. have been rising exponentially, evoking huge public concern about their proliferation, their recent privatisation and their promise of enormous profits. But these prisons house hugely disproportionate numbers of people of colour, betraying the racism embedded in the system, while studies show that increasing prison sentences has had no effect on crime. Here, esteemed civil rights activist Angela Davis lays bare the situation and argues for a radical rethinking of our rehabilitation programmes.
Publisher: New York : Seven Stories Press, ©2003
ISBN: 9781583225813
Branch Call Number: 364.68 DAV 2003
Characteristics: 128 pages ; 18 cm

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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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