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, frequently for political purposes. the hot “ideal,” unknown to such a lot americans, is a punitive mandate marked through a force towards vengeance.
Surveying this kingdom 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 develop into of people that are quarantined for years in a violent lifestyle? 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 exhibits 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
In the late summer of 1971, close to a decade after Milgram’s results hit the headlines, another research team, this one led by Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University, in northern California, gathered a host of students willing to participate in a prolonged psychology experiment for ﬁfteen dollars a day. With some of the students acting as prison guards and others as prisoners under the absolute control of their captors, the research team wanted to see what sorts of interactions would unfold over the course of several days.
Soon it was followed by Indiana and Illinois, Missouri and Alabama. In Mississippi, from 1829, unclaimed runaway slaves were brieﬂy jailed before being handed A RISING TIDE OF VIOLENCE 29 over to county authorities, who would then use them to build highways and bridges, often literally working them into their graves. In the decades after the Civil War, as bankrupt former Confederate states with a historical aversion to raising taxes tried to restore their public ﬁnances, prisoner leasing became standard practice across the South.
Since the 1980s, state and federal correctional systems have invested billions of dollars to create secure housing units deep within high-security prisons and, increasingly, to build entire supermax prisons based on the isolation model. Not content simply to establish zones of absolute security, surrounded by state-of-the-art defenses from which no prisoner can possibly escape and into which no unwanted intruder can possibly penetrate, some prison systems have built supermax wings underground. The Estelle Unit at the sprawling penal complex in Huntsville, Texas, looks like nothing so much as a wartime bunker, a subterranean labyrinth of echoing concrete, lit by ﬂuorescent ceiling lights.