Explaining U.S. Imprisonment examines women in prison, minorities, the historical path to the modern prison, a wide range of contemporary issues, and social influences on prison reform. While focusing on prisons, this one-of-a-kind book is written within the context of the sociology of punishment and covers cutting-edge topics such as detaining immigrants, the War on Terror, and prison in the 21st century.


  • Uses a historical and social framework to place U.S. corrections and imprisonment policies in context
  • Includes first-hand accounts from inmates, as well as primary source documents written by early prison reformers
  • Integrates research on women, men, and minorities throughout, rather than separating each topic into a stand-alone chapter
  • Begins chapters with thought-provoking quotes to set the stage for the content that follows

Explaining U.S. Imprisonment is ideal for use as a supplementary text in undergraduate and graduate courses on corrections, imprisonment, and theories of punishment. It is also appropriate for use in courses on criminal justice, incarceration, minority issues in law, sociology of law, and the study of the modern prison system.

The Punitive Turn: Laying the Foundations for Mass Imprisonment

The Punitive Turn: Laying the Foundations for Mass Imprisonment

The punitive turn: Laying the foundations for mass imprisonment

[The] rise in crime, caused by a hardened criminal class, was fostered partly from a liberal social philosophy that too often called for lenient treatment of criminals. Because this misguided social philosophy saw man as primarily the creature of his material environment, it thought that through expensive government social programs it could change that environment and usher in a great new egalitarian utopia. And yet even while government was launching a rash of social engineering schemes in a vain attempt to remake man and society, it wasn't dealing with the most elementary social problems like rising crime.

—Ronald Reagan, June 20, 1984

Prisons are no more likely to fail than ...

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