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American Crossroads #21: Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing Californiaby Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Synopses & Reviews
Since 1980, the number of people in U.S. prisons has increased more than 450%. Despite a crime rate that has been falling steadily for decades, California has led the way in this explosion, with what a state analyst called and#147;the biggest prison building project in the history of the world.and#8221; Golden Gulag provides the first detailed explanation for that buildup by looking at how political and economic forces, ranging from global to local, conjoined to produce the prison boom.
In an informed and impassioned account, Ruth Wilson Gilmore examines this issue through statewide, rural, and urban perspectives to explain how the expansion developed from surpluses of finance capital, labor, land, and state capacity. Detailing crises that hit Californiaand#8217;s economy with particular ferocity, she argues that defeats of radical struggles, weakening of labor, and shifting patterns of capital investment have been key conditions for prison growth. The resultsand#151;a vast and expensive prison system, a huge number of incarcerated young people of color, and the increase in punitive justice such as the and#147;three strikesand#8221; lawand#151;pose profound and troubling questions for the future of California, the United States, and the world. Golden Gulag provides a rich context for this complex dilemma, and at the same time challenges many cherished assumptions about who benefits and who suffers from the stateand#8217;s commitment to prison expansion.
and#147;A magnificent analysis of the political economy of superincarceration and the slave plantations that California calls prisons.and#8221;and#151;Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear
"Golden Gulag is a deeply necessary book for our times. Gilmore digs beneath the easy answers to the more troubling causes of a political consensus that prisons are the only solution to all urban and rural ills."and#151;Nayan Shah, author of Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco's Chinatown
"Ruth Gilmore lays bare the diabolical logic of neoliberal incarceration. She shows us that the prison is a symptom of the decline of our civilization, how the California Nightmare has produced its disposable population. Gilmore's depressingly hopeful analysis is a wake-up call for our somnolence."and#151;Vijay Prashad, author of Keeping Up with the Dow Joneses: Debt, Prison, Workfare
A long-awaited, authoritative, critical, & revolutionary study of the causes and effects of the largest prison building and filling plan in the history of the world--California's 23 major new state prisons & 500% increase in prisoner population since 1982--and the Golden Gulag's dangerous lessons for the rest of the USA, and through globalization, the world.
About the Author
Ruth Wilson Gilmore is Associate Professor of Geography and Director of the Program in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She is a member of the founding collective of Critical Resistance, one of the most important national anti-prison organizations in the United States.
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Prologue: The Bus
2. The California Political Economy
3. The Prison Fix
4. Crime, Croplands, and Capitalism
5. Mothers Reclaiming Our Children
6. What Is to Be Done?
Epilogue: Another Bus
What Our Readers Are Saying
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