American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment

Sasha Abramsky, Author . Beacon $25.95 (213p) ISBN 978-0-8070-4222-9

There's no doubt about where journalist Abramsky's fury is directed: at the contemporary U.S. penal system, which he criticizes for jettisoning any thoughts of rehabilitation in favor of increasingly harsh punishment, and which he sees as a reflection of America's violent culture. Few would find much to argue with as Abramsky depicts the recent growth of, and violence in, American prisons; he presents alarming statistics on the rise in government spending on punishment in the past 25 years, even as a "less government is more" ethos has ruled. He's also highly critical of mandatory sentencing laws. As he and others have pointed out, law and order wins political races, and jails provide jobs in places where industry has dried up. Abramsky (Hard Time Blues: How Politics Built a Prison Nation ) has long written about this issue, and the book displays a lot of on-the-ground reportage with prisoners, corrections officials and scholars. His suggestions for returning to rehabilitation could be more specific, but this remains a well-researched book on a significant American problem that's often locked away behind bars. (May)

Reviewed on: 01/22/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
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Paperback - 456 pages - 978-0-8070-9916-2
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Paperback - 213 pages - 978-0-8070-4223-6
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