On the Parole Board: Reflections on Crime, Punishment, Redemption, and Justice

Frederic G. Reamer. Columbia Univ., $90 (288p) ISBN 978-0-231-17732-0
After serving for nearly 25 years on the Rhode Island Parole Board, social worker Reamer (Risk Management in Social Work) gives an insider look at his role in deciding the fate of prisoners. In a narrative-driven account that goes beyond his own work, he explores the complexity of criminal behavior, victim trauma, and the parameters of justice and punishment. He engages moral philosophy, social science research, history, and lived experience in order to come to grips with crime—from the gruesome to the mundane—and punishment. He also analyzes common catalysts for crime, including addiction, psychiatric illness, and prior histories of physical abuse and neglect. Delving into firsthand experiences, the book incorporates transcripts from parole hearings and personal testimonies from both prisoners and crime victims. Its in-depth look at criminal justice practices, including the benefits of restorative justice and the harms of solitary confinement, is especially instructive. Reamer combines a comprehensive overview of the criminal justice system with a generous and deeply personal account of crime’s human impact, and his work will appeal most strongly to social work practitioners. He ends the book by outlining tenets of just punishment that the U.S. prison system could implement and practice. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2016
Release date: 11/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-231-17733-7
Ebook - 978-0-231-54332-3
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