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Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empireby Robert Perkinson
Synopses & Reviews
A vivid history of Americas biggest, baddest prison system and how it came to lead the nations 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 Norths 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 todays mass incarceration, with its vast racial disparities, must be seen as a backlash against civil rights.
Illuminating for the first time the origins of Americas prison juggernaut, Texas Tough points toward a more just and humane future.
In the prison business, all roads lead to Texas. This sweeping history of American imprisonment shows how a plantation-based penal system once dismissed as barbaric becomes the national template--and how that injustice can change.
In the prison business, all roads lead to Texas. A pioneer in criminal justice severity—from assembly-line executions to supermax isolation, from mandatory sentencing to prison privatization—Texas is the most locked-down state in the most incarcerated country in the world. Texas Tough, a sweeping history of American imprisonment from the days of slavery to the present, explains how a plantation-based penal system once dismissed as barbaric became a template for the nation.
Drawing on the individual stories as well as authoritative research, Texas Tough reveals the true origins of Americas prison juggernaut and points toward a more just and humane future.
About the Author
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.
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