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 aim of rehabilitation, usually for political purposes. the hot “ideal,” unknown to so much americans, is a punitive mandate marked through a force towards vengeance.
Surveying this nation of affairs—life sentences for nonviolent crimes, appalling stipulations, the expansion of personal prisons, the remedy 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 tradition? California’s 3 moves legislations typifies the politics that take advantage of 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 charges.
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Additional resources for American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment
So long as we don’t feel personally at risk, most of us seem to be titillated by these glimpses into the darker recesses of our collective psyche. Out by Eastern State’s death row cellblock, added to the building in 1954 during the last wave of expansions, a couple and their two young children gawked at the exhibits. ” the woman asked my guide excitedly as we walked by. The guide explained that Eastern State had no electric chair; inmates were transported to the prison at Rockview for their executions.
The experiment which was to be made, promised to be decisive,” wrote the French aristocrats Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville, after touring America in 1831 on a fact-ﬁnding mission about the country’s penitentiaries. ”¹⁸ David Garland told me that in the United States, “there’s been an engagement with crime and punishment that’s much more intense than in other countries. ” Even before the ﬁrst large prisons were built in the postindependence United States—in Pittsburgh, in Philadelphia, and in Auburn, New York— the Quaker commonwealth of Pennsylvania had, since the earliest days of its founding, been moving away from the lash, the noose, and other eye-foran-eye punishments.
Nationally, the number of state prisons in the United States went up from 592 in 1974 to 1,023 in 2000, with hundreds of additional facilities for state inmates run by private companies and dozens more operated by the federal Bureau of Prisons. Much of this institutional expansion took place in just ten states: in Texas, the number of prisons went up an almost unfathomable 706 percent from 1979 to 2000, with 137 new prisons built in the Lone Star State during these years. ¹⁰ But signiﬁcant growth also occurred in the number of prisons run by the remaining forty states, as corrections departments struggled to house the endless prisoners that courts were sending their way.