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Are Prisons Obsolete? (Seven Stories' Open Media Book)by Angela Y. Davis
Synopses & Reviews
Amid rising public concern about the proliferation and privitization of prisons, and their promise of enormous profits, world-renowned author and activist Angela Y. Davis argues for the abolition of the prison system as the dominant way of responding to Americas social ills.
In thinking about the possible obsolescence of the prison,Davis writes, we should ask how it is that so many people could end up in prison without major debates regarding the efficacy of incarceration.Whereas Reagan-era politicians with tough on crimestances argued that imprisonment and longer sentences would keep communities free of crime, history has shown that the practice of mass incarceration during that period has had little or no effect on official crime rates: in fact, larger prison populations led not to safer communities but to even larger prison populations.
As we make our way into the twenty-first centurytwo hundred years after the invention of the penitentiary the question of prison abolition has acquired an unprecedented urgency. Backed by growing numbers of prisons and prisoners, Davis analyzes these institutions in the U.S., arguing that the very future of democracy depends on our ability to develop radical theories and practices that make it possible to plan and fight for a world beyond the prison industrial complex.
World-renowned activist Angela Davis discusses how mass incarceration has had little or no effect on crime, how disproportionate numbers of the poor and minorities end up in prison, and the obscene profits the system generates.
With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Y. Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life: the abolition of the prison. As she quite correctly notes, American life is replete with abolition movements, and when they were engaged in these struggles, their chances of success seemed almost unthinkable. For generations of Americans, the abolition of slavery was sheerest illusion. Similarly,the entrenched system of racial segregation seemed to last forever, and generations lived in the midst of the practice, with few predicting its passage from custom. The brutal, exploitative (dare one say lucrative?) convict-lease system that succeeded formal slavery reaped millions to southern jurisdictions (and untold miseries for tens of thousands of men, and women). Few predicted its passing from the American penal landscape. Davis expertly argues how social movements transformed these social, political and cultural institutions, and made such practices untenable.
In Are Prisons Obsolete?, Professor Davis seeks to illustrate that the time for the prison is approaching an end. She argues forthrightly for "decarceration", and argues for the transformation of the society as a whole.
Civil rights activist Angela Davis lays bare the situation and argues for a radical rethinking of US rehabilitation programmes.
About the Author
ANGELA YVONNE DAVIS is a professor of history of consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Over the last thirty years, she has been active in numerous organizations challenging prison-related repression. Her advocacy on behalf of political prisoners led to three capital charges, sixteen months in jail awaiting trial, and a highly publicized campaign then acquittal in 1972. In 1973, the National Committee to Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners, along with the Attica Brothers, the American Indian Movement and other organizations founded The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, of which she remained co-chairperson for many years.
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