There's no doubt about where journalist Abramsky's fury is directed: at the contemporary U.S. penal system, which he criticizes for jettisoning any thoughts of rehabilitation in favor of increasingly harsh punishment, and which he sees as a reflection of America's violent culture. Few would find much to argue with as Abramsky depicts the recent growth of, and violence in, American prisons; he presents alarming statistics on the rise in government spending on punishment in the past 25 years, even as a "less government is more" ethos has ruled. He's also highly critical of mandatory sentencing laws. As he and others have pointed out, law and order wins political races, and jails provide jobs in places where industry has dried up. Abramsky (Hard Time Blues: How Politics Built a Prison Nation) has long written about this issue, and the book displays a lot of on-the-ground reportage with prisoners, corrections officials and scholars. His suggestions for returning to rehabilitation could be more specific, but this remains a well-researched book on a significant American problem that's often locked away behind bars. (May)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonmentby Sasha Abramsky
In this disturbing yet elegant expose of U.S. penitentiaries and their surrounding communities, Sasha Abramsky shows how American prisons have abandoned their long-held ideal of rehabilitation, often for political reasons. After surveying our current state of affairs-life sentences for nonviolent crimes, appalling conditions for inmates, the growth of private prisons, the treatment of juveniles-Abramsky argues that our punitive policies are not only inhuman but deeply counterproductive. Brilliantly researched and compellingly told, American Furies reveals the devastating consequences of a society that believes in "lock 'em up and throw away the key."
About the Author:
Sasha Abramsky is a senior fellow at the nonpartisan public-policy organization Demos and the author of Conned and Hard Time Blues
"A well-researched book on a significant American problem that's often locked away behind bars."—Publishers Weekly
"The most urgent book of the season. Sasha Abramsky provides us with an invaluable, if harrowing, audit of the cataclysmic damage inflicted upon American values by American prisons. The lack of compassion in our national life and the gangrened hearts of our politicians pose greater threats to our childrens' futures than any overseas terrorist conspiracy." —Mike Davis, professor of history at University of California, Irvine and author of seven books, including Planet of Slums and The Monster at Our Door
"A smart, compassionate and tough-minded look at the rise and impact of the tough-on-crime culture that has made America the world's foremost jailer. By showing us how we got into this mess, this revelatory book also holds out hope that we might find our way out."—Nell Bernstein, author of All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated
"Sobering . . . Abramsky uses painstaking research, anecdotal evidence from inmates and tours of penal hellholes across the land to lock in American Furies." —Sacramento News and Review
"In the difficult realm of prison reporting, Abramsky is unquestionably among the best and brightest, and American Furies is clear evidence of such." —The American Prospect
"American Furies provides us with a vivid account…" --The Nation
Meet the Author
Sasha Abramsky has written for The Atlantic, The Nation, and Rolling Stone. The author of Conned: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House and Hard Time Blues: How Politics Built a Prison Nation, he has also reported on U.S. prisons for Human Rights Watch. He lives in Sacramento, California.
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This is necessary reading if you consider yourself to have any opinion at all about the war on drugs, mandatory sentencing, our prisons, and criminals 'attempting to' re-integrate back into our society. If you are all for bigger and better prisons or contend that the American legal system has gotten too big for it's britches, this is a thought provoking read