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.

A Culture of Control

A culture of control

[F]or too long, the debate about crime and drugs in America has been dominated by a relatively small group of anti-incarceration advocates. These advocates have been perpetrating criminal justice myths that have done a great deal to undermine effective law enforcement. What is at stake here is more than an interesting, and somewhat esoteric, academic debate. The body count has risen—lives have been lost—because pernicious ideas have formed an intellectual template for crime and punishment in America.

—Bennett, DiIulio, & Walters, 1996, p. 15

American convicts are subjected to degradation that most people are unable to comprehend and do not want to know about. These are not security technologies, they are the programs. Prisons were built to destroy people.

—Richards, 1998, ...

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