The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry
Daniel Burton-Rose, Dan Pens, Paul Wright
Common Courage Press, 1998 - Law - 263 pages
In this searing indictment of the criminal justice system, Paul Wright, Dan Pens and Daniel Burton-Rose kick open the doors of America's prisons and take you through a hell-raising tour -- not only of the prisons but of the society that put them there. In this unique volume which grew out of the magazine Prison Legal News, prison journalists will teach you:
-- How corporations like Microsoft are raking in big bucks from prison labor;
-- How the privatization of prisons means prisoners build their ow cages;
-- That while congress has eliminated the $20 million in federal funds for death penalty legal resource centers, death row executions have skyrocketed, with 56 people being killed in 1995, the highest number since 1957.
"The burden of their message is that the United States has descended into a cruel era of social vengeance, as though the problems of crime and social deterioration will be solved by ratcheting up the level of torment imposed on the imprisoned and by elaborating even more irrational terms for deciding on their punishment. The nation builds prisons instead of schools. A new industrial sector has arisen around the penal system. Companies move in to capture the profit opportunities present in this new commodity -- the millions of people who are imprisoned.
"This approach may temporarily mollify public fears of crime and satisfy desires for retribution, but it does not of course solve the crime problem. Indeed, the political crusade to "toughen up" the criminal justice system may be understood as a great evasion -- a retreat from the deeper and more difficult questions of social and economic relationships. In a sense, the binge of prison construction amounts to giving up on the possibility of building a more equitable society.
"One remarkable quality of this book is that, while the collective indictment delivered by these inmate commentators is harsh and devastating, their tone and style is relatively restrained. One would expect otherwise, I think, especially given the facts they are presenting and their own confinement." -- from the introduction by William Greider
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