Beggars and Thieves: Lives of Urban Street Criminals

Beggars and Thieves: Lives of Urban Street Criminals

by Mark S. Fleisher
     
 

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As the incidence of violent crime rises in the United States, so does the public demand for a solution. But what will work?
    Mark S. Fleisher has spent years among inmates in jails and prisons and on the streets with thieves, gang members, addicts, and life-long criminals in Seattle and other cities across the country. In Beggars and

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Overview

As the incidence of violent crime rises in the United States, so does the public demand for a solution. But what will work?
    Mark S. Fleisher has spent years among inmates in jails and prisons and on the streets with thieves, gang members, addicts, and life-long criminals in Seattle and other cities across the country. In Beggars and Thieves, he writes about how and why they become and remain offenders, and about the actual role of jails and prisons in efforts to deter crime and rehabilitate criminals. Fleisher shows, with wrenching firsthand accounts, that parents who are addicts, abusers, and criminals beget irreversibly damaged children who become addicts, abusers, and criminals. Further, Fleisher contends that many well-intentioned educational and vocational training programs are wasted because they are offered too late to help. And, he provides sobering evidence that many youthful and adult offenders find themselves better off in prison—with work to do, medical care, a clean place to sleep, regular meals, and stable social ties—than they are in America’s cities.
    Fleisher calls for anti-crime policies that are bold, practical, and absolutely imperative. He prescribes life terms for violent offenders, but in prisons structured as work communities, where privileges are earned through work in expanded, productive industries that reduce the financial burden of incarceration on the public. But most important, he argues that the only way to prevent street crime, cut prison growth, and reduce the waste of money and human lives is to permanently remove brutalized children from criminal, addicted, and violent parents.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
An ethnographic study of street criminals in Seattle and other cities, focusing on familial factors that contribute to the social, cognitive, and emotional traits typical among street criminals. The study finds that their lives all began with brutal treatment from bad parents, and reiterates the need for intervention to protect children. First-hand accounts make the study interesting to general readers as well as students and professionals in sociology and criminal justice. Includes a glossary of street terms. Paper edition (unseen), $16.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Janet St. John
Fleisher's years of fieldwork spent interviewing inmates and addicts in Seattle and other cities, as well as his experience as a prison administrator, culminate here in an attempt to offer explanations and possible solutions to the ever-increasing crime in America. Fleisher's interviews and firsthand exposure reveal street criminals raised in dysfunctional families, perpetuating cycles of neglect, abuse, and criminal behavior. Although this is no startling discovery, Fleisher's argument that education is a too-late solution is daring and probably true. He demonstrates how prisons often act as havens for potential criminals who get medical care, regular meals, and shelter--more than they would have out on the streets. One of Fleisher's primary solutions envisions prisons as work communities (such as the Prison Blues denim company), where privileges are earned and the prison makes money toward supporting the inmates, relieving some public expense. The gritty accounts in this book are engaging enough, but with the addition of Fleisher's well-thought-out, realistic proposals for change, it becomes more than another urban crime lament.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299147730
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
08/01/1995
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
4 MB

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