Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire

Front Cover
Henry Holt and Company, Oct 26, 2010 - Social Science - 496 pages
9 Reviews

A vivid history of America's biggest, baddest prison system and how it came to lead the nation's punitive revolution

In the prison business, all roads lead to Texas. The most locked-down state in the nation has led the way in criminal justice severity, from assembly-line executions to isolation supermaxes, from prison privatization to sentencing juveniles as adults. Texas Tough, a sweeping history of American imprisonment from the days of slavery to the present, shows how a plantation-based penal system once dismissed as barbaric became the national template.
Drawing on convict accounts, official records, and interviews with prisoners, guards, and lawmakers, historian Robert Perkinson reveals the Southern roots of our present-day prison colossus. While conventional histories emphasize the North's rehabilitative approach, he shows how the retributive and profit-driven regime of the South ultimately triumphed. Most provocatively, he argues that just as convict leasing and segregation emerged in response to Reconstruction, so today's mass incarceration, with its vast racial disparities, must be seen as a backlash against civil rights.
Illuminating for the first time the origins of America's prison juggernaut, Texas Tough points toward a more just and humane future.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
5
4 stars
1
3 stars
3
2 stars
0
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - cutiger80 - LibraryThing

A history of incarceration in Texas from the early establishment of Texas to present day, definitely a powerful subject to be discussed. As a state famous for its tough on crime mentality learning ... Read full review

TEXAS TOUGH: The Rise of America's Prison Empire

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

An intensively researched, disturbing history of American penology focusing on the state with the largest prison system—Texas.In his debut, Perkinson (American Studies/Univ. of Hawaii) asserts that ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
PRISON HEARTLAND
15
PLANTATION AND PENITENTIARY
47
WORSE THAN SLAVERY
83
THE AGONIES OF REFORM
132
THE PENAL COLONY THAT WASNT
177
BEST IN THE NATION
215
APPEAL TO JUSTICE
251
RETRIBUTIVE REVOLUTION
286
THE TRIUMPH OF TEXAS TOUGH
325
Conclusion
357
Notes
375
Acknowledgments
467
Index
471
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Robert Perkinson is a professor of American studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His writing has appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, and Boston Review, among other venues. Texas Tough is his first book. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Bibliographic information