American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age by Sasha Abramsky

By Sasha Abramsky

During this dramatic exposé of U.S. penitentiaries and the groups round them, Sasha Abramsky unearths that prisons have dumped their age-old target of rehabilitation, usually for political purposes. the hot “ideal,” unknown to such a lot americans, is a punitive mandate marked by way of a force towards vengeance.

Surveying this nation of affairs—life sentences for nonviolent crimes, appalling stipulations, the expansion of non-public prisons, the therapy of juveniles—Abramsky asks: Does the vengeful impulse ennoble our tradition or demean it? What can turn into of people that are quarantined for years in a violent way of life? California’s 3 moves legislation typifies the politics that make the most the grief of victims’ households and our fears of violent crime. Brilliantly researched and compellingly informed, American Furies indicates that the ethos of “lock ’em up and throw away the key” has huge, immense social bills.

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Additional info for American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment

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Taken together, the Milgram and Zimbardo results show the toxic possibilities inherent in the institution of the prison, which by definition is a place delineated by strict hierarchies; a sphere in which obedience is inculcated as the highest virtue; and a miniature social system characterized by extremes of power and powerlessness, control and subordination. As such, they stand as reminders of the dangers of locking away huge numbers of people under the absolute control of uniformed o‰cers of the state.

A vast stone construction, its impenetrable front stretching along several city blocks, its entrance bookmarked by gothic, castellated towers, Eastern State was, at the time of its opening in 1829, the most state-of-the-art building in America. It was widely hailed as an architectural marvel: seven spokes emerged from a central observation area, with each spoke housing fifty-six prisoners, twenty-eight on each side of the hallway. From the central hub, guards could see down the length of each hall, providing comprehensive oversight with a minimal number of staƒ.

In 1878 a celebrated Prison Commission, chaired by an energetic, if rather colorless, bureaucrat named Sir Edmund du Cane, urged the creation of uniform standards in prisons across the land: they would, he declared, house prisoners in isolation cells with uncomfortable plank beds, force them to work at such tasks as picking oakum or exhausting themselves on the tread wheel, and feed them bread, potatoes, and low-grade meat. France, too, in a slightly later period, opened a network of state-of-the-art prisons.

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