Conscience and Convenience: The Asylum and Its Alternatives in Progressive America

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Transaction Publishers, 2002 - Social Science - 482 pages
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Conscience and Convenience was quickly recognized for its masterly depiction and interpretation of a major period of reform history. This history begins in a social context in which treatment and rehabilitation were emerging as predominant after America's prisons and asylums had been broadly acknowledged to be little more than embarrassing failures. The resulting progressive agenda was evident: to develop new, more humane and effective strategies for the criminal, delinquent, and mentally ill. The results, as Rothman documents, did not turn out as reformers had planned. For adult criminal offenders, such individual treatment could be accomplished only through the provision of broad discretionary authority, whereby choices could be made between probation, parole, indeterminate sentencing, and, as a measure of last resort, incarceration in totally redesigned prisons. For delinquents, the juvenile court served as a surrogate parent and accelerated and intensified individual treatment by providing for a series of community-based individual and family services, with the newly designed, school-like reformatories being used for only the most intractable cases. For the mentally ill, psychiatrists chose between outpatient treatments, short-term intensive care, or as last resort, long-term care in mental hospitals with new cottage and family-like arrangements. Rothman shows the consequences of these reforms as unmitigated disasters. Despite benevolent intentions, the actual outcome of reform efforts was to take the earlier failures of prisons and asylums to new, more ominous heights. In this updated edition, Rothman chronicles and examines incarceration of the criminal, the deviant, and the dependent in U.S. society, with a focus on how and why these methods have persisted and expanded for over a century and a half despite longstanding evidence of their failures and abuses.

  

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User Review  - carterchristian1 - LibraryThing

Locking all kinds of people who presented social problems waws part of the reform movement in the United States. There was some promise of rehabilitation, but it did not work out that way and now the US has more people in prisons than any other country. A good historical overview Read full review

Contents

Coping with Evil
17
THE WORLD OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
41
Individual Justice The Progressive Design
43
Watching Over the Offender The Practice of Probation
82
Up Against the Prison Wall
117
A Game of Chance The Condition of Parole
159
THE WORLD OF JUVENILE JUSTICE
203
The Invention of the Juvenile Court
205
THE WORLD OF MENTAL HEALTH
291
Civic Medicine
293
The Enduring Asylum
324
DREAMS DIE HARD
377
The Diary of an Institution
379
The Crime of Punishment
425
Notes
439
Index
469

The Cult of Judicial Personality
236
When Is a School Not a School?
261

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About the author (2002)

David J. Rothman is Bernard Schoenberg Professor of Social Medicine, professor of history, and director of the Center for the Study of Science and Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University.  He is the author of numerous works, including The Willowbrook Wars, The Discovery of the Asylum, and The Pursuit of Perfection: The Promise and Perils of Medical Enhancement.

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