Imprisonment developed in the Western world as the punishment to suit all offences, from violent assault to victimless drug use. Centuries ago, incarcerating convicts represented progress on society's part, since it came as a replacement for capital punishment, maiming, and torture.
Our current model -- taking away convicts' freedom and holding them in degrading and unhealthy prison conditions -- promotes recidivism and jeopardizes public safety. It is highly discriminatory, with disproportionate numbers of ethnic, indigenous, mentally ill, drug-dependent, poor, and otherwise marginalized people imprisoned. It is also ruinously expensive.
Elsewhere, alternative correctional systems successfully rehabilitate offenders while treating them with dignity and respect. This book lays out the case for a complete overhaul of Canada's ineffective incarceration model of criminal justice and for a new approach.
This strong indictment of the current prison system, undertaken by two respected experts on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee, traces the history and features of our penal system, offers strong ethical and moral assessments of it, and lays out a whole new paradigm of criminal justice based on restorative justice and reconciliation. The book puts forward a 12-point plan for immediate changes. Beyond Prisons opens a long-needed national dialogue on our responsibilities as citizens and as a nation to provide remediation rather than mere retributive incarceration, answerable to the common good and the justice of God.
"You should definitely read this book... What really struck me in reading Beyond These Walls was that Tony Platt had very seriously and carefully considered the contributions of social movements--feminist, queer, disability, and labor." --Angela Davis
Beyond These Walls is an ambitious and far-ranging exploration that tracks the legacy of crime and imprisonment in the United States, from the historical roots of the American criminal justice system to our modern state of over-incarceration, and offers a bold vision for a new future. Author Tony Platt, a recognized authority in the field of criminal justice, challenges the way we think about how and why millions of people are tracked, arrested, incarcerated, catalogued, and regulated in the United States.
Beyond These Walls traces the disturbing history of punishment and social control, revealing how the criminal justice system attempts to enforce and justify inequalities associated with class, race, gender, and sexuality. Prisons and police departments are central to this process, but other institutions - from immigration and welfare to educational and public health agencies - are equally complicit.
Platt argues that international and national politics shape perceptions of danger and determine the policies of local criminal justice agencies, while private policing and global corporations are deeply and undemocratically involved in the business of homeland security.
Finally, Beyond These Walls demonstrates why efforts to reform criminal justice agencies have often expanded rather than contracted the net of social control. Drawing upon a long tradition of popular resistance, Platt concludes with a strategic vision of what it will take to achieve justice for all in this era of authoritarian disorder.
A recent study by the Urban Institute estimates that one-third of all counties in the United States house a prison, and that our prison and jail population is now over 2.1 million. Another report indicates that more than 97 percent of all U.S. prisoners are eventually released, and communities are absorbing nearly 650,000 formerly incarcerated individuals each year. These figures are particularly alarming considering the fact that rural communities are using prisons as economic development vehicles without fully understanding the effects of these jails on the area.
This book is the result of author Eric J. Williams' ground-level research about the effects of prisons upon two rural American communities that lobbied to host maximum security prisons. Through hundreds of interviews conducted while living in Florence, Colorado, and Beeville, Texas, Williams offers the perspective of local residents on all sides of the issue, as well as a social history told mainly from the standpoint of those who lobbied for the prisons.
A story that garnered national attention, this is the harrowing tale of two men who suffered abuses at a reform school in Florida in the 1950s and 60s, and who banded together fifty years later to confront their attackers.
Michael O'McCarthy and Robert W. Straley were teens when they were termed "incorrigible youth" by authorities and ordered to attend the Florida School for Boys. They discovered in Marianna, the "City of Southern Charm," an immaculately groomed campus that looked more like an idyllic university than a reform school. But hidden behind the gates of the Florida School for Boys was a hell unlike any they could have imagined. The school's guards and administrators acted as their jailers and tormentors. The boys allegedly bore witness to assault, rape, and possibly even murder.
For fifty years, both men---and countless others like them---carried their torment in silence. But a series of unlikely events brought O'McCarthy, now a successful rights activist, and Straley together, and they became determined to expose the Florida School for Boys for what they believed it to be: a youth prison with a century-long history of abuse. They embarked upon a campaign that would change their lives and inspire others.
Robin Gaby Fisher, a Pulitzer Prize--winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestselling After the Fire, collaborates with Straley and O'McCarthy to offer a riveting account of their harrowing ordeal. The book goes beyond the story of the two men to expose the truth about a century-old institution and a town that adopted a Nuremberg-like code of secrecy and a government that failed to address its own wrongdoing. What emerges is a tale of strength, resolve, and vindication in the face of the kinds of terror few can imagine.
In what the San Francisco Chronicle called "an epic work of investigative journalism that lays bare our nation's brutal and counterproductive juvenile prisons and is a clarion call to bring our children home," Nell Bernstein eloquently argues that there is no good way to lock up a child. Making the radical argument that state-run detention centers should be abolished completely, her "passionate and convincing" (Kirkus) book points out that our system of juvenile justice flies in the face of everything we know about what motivates young people to change.Called "a devastating read" by Truthout, Burning Down the House received a starred Publishers Weekly review and was an In These Times recommended summer read. Bernstein's heartrending portraits of young people abused by the system intended to protect and "rehabilitate" them are interwoven with reporting on innovative programs that provide effective alternatives to putting children behind bars. The result is a work that the Philadelphia Inquirer called "a searing indictment and a deft strike at the heart of America's centuries-old practice of locking children away in institution"--a landmark book that has already launched a new national conversation.
John T. Whitehead analyzes the extent and causes of job burnout in probation officers and correctional officers. Challenging models of burnout that focus on individual-level causes, Whitehead demonstrates that the findings support an organization model of the sources of job burnout -- a finding that has significant implications for managerial policy aimed at reducing burnout. Further, Whitehead shows that while burnout appears to be a serious problem for a sizeable minority of workers, it is not a problem for the majority. Ideal as supplemental reading for courses in criminal justice, criminology, and social work, Burnout in Probation and Corrections sheds new light on the incidence, causes, and possible remedies for job burnout in these professions.
Whitehead's study is unique in its analysis of multiple samples from several states and regions and from two different time periods. The study also includes a qualitative analysis of worker comments on the factors contributing to burnout, a comparison of correctional officer versus probation officer burnout, and a comparison of male and female probation officer burnout. Based on his research, he indicates that client contact is not the cause of burnout in probation and correctional officers, a conclusion that contrasts sharply with some of the previous theoretical work in the field. Instead, Whitehead demonstrates, organizational issues such as role conflict are critical sources of burnout. Therefore, managerial policy should center upon organizational improvements to reduce job stress and job dissatisfaction.
Capital Punishment examines the debate around the death penalty, raising questions and attempting to provide an even-handed examination of this controversial practice. The authors combine analysis of important issues with excerpts from landmark legal decisions, important documents, survey results, and empirical data.
The first part of the book discusses the origins of the death penalty and traces its development from antiquity to contemporary times. Detailed statistical information about capital punishment is presented and discussed, and the death penalty is considered against a constitutional backdrop with various arguments--for and against--articulated. The second part of the book consists of three appendices. The first appendix presents an annotated list of important capital-punishment cases; the second supplies a more general chronological treatment of capital punishment; and the third provides a bibliographic essay directing readers to other relevant sources of interest. A thorough and insightful treatment, Capital Punishment provides both a summary of the current state of capital punishment and a discussion of areas of continuing controversy.
Kerry Cook is an innocent man who wrongly served two decades in Texas's notorious death house for the brutal 1977 rape and murder of 21-year-old Linda Jo Edwards. His struggle for freedom is said to be one of the worst cases of police and prosecutorial misconduct in American history.
In the summer of 1977, Cook was staying in Tyler, TX. He met an attractive young woman named Linda Edwards and was invited back to her apartment for a drink and left his fingerprints on the sliding glass door. Four days later, Ms. Edwards was found brutally murdered. When the police dusted for prints, they found Cook's and immediately arrested him. Edward Jackson testified that Cook confessed to the murder during a jailhouse conversation. Jackson was set free, only to kill again several years later. Cook, on the other hand, was convicted and sentenced to death.
He was thrown into a world for which no one could be prepared, and he survived beatings, sexual abuse, and depression; all the while, he fought against a justice system that was determined to keep him quiet and loath to admit a mistake. Through the work of a crusading group of lawyers who forced a series of retrials, his case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered the case be reconsidered. It wasn't until the spring of 1999 that Cook was finally able to put the nightmare behind him: long-suppressed DNA evidence had linked James Mayfield, Linda Edwards's ex-lover, to the crime.
Adults are being incarcerated in the United States at an ever-escalating rate, and child welfare professionals are encountering growing numbers of children who have parents in prison. Current estimates indicate that as many as 1.5 million children have an incarcerated parent; many thousands of others have experienced the incarceration of a parent at some point in their lives. These vulnerable children face unique difficulties, and their growing numbers and special needs demand attention.Existing literature indicates that children whose parents are incarcerated experience a variety of negative consequences, particularly in terms of their emotional health and well being. They also may have difficult interactions or limited contact with their parents. There are also issues connected with their physical care and child custody. The many challenges facing the child welfare system as it attempts to work with this population are explored in Children with Parents in Prison. Topics covered include: "Supporting Families and Children of Mothers in Jail"; "Meeting the Challenge of Permanency Planning for Children with Incarcerated Mothers"; "The Impact of Changing Public Policy on Relatives Caring for Children with Incarcerated Parents"; "Legal Issues and Recommendations"; "Facilitating Parent-Child Contact in Correctional Settings"; "Earning Trust from Youths with None to Spare"; "Developing Quality Services for Offenders and Families"; and in closing, "Understanding the Forces that Influence Incarcerated Fathers' Relationships with Their Children."Children and families have long struggled with the difficulties created when a parent goes to prison. What is new is the magnitude of the problem. This volume calls for increased public awareness of the impact of parental incarceration on children. Its goal is to stimulate discussion about how to best meet the special needs of these children and families and how to provide a resource for the child welfare community as it responds to the growing numbers of children made vulnerable by their parents' incarceration.Cynthia Seymour is general counsel at the Child Welfare League of America in Washington, DC. Creasie Finney Hairston is dean and professor at Jane Addams College of Social Work, the University of Illinois at Chicago.