Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis

Overview

Lockdown America documents the horrors and absurdities of militarized policing, prisons, a fortified border, and the war on drugs. Its accessible and vivid prose makes clear the links between crime and politics in a period of gathering economic crisis.
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Overview

Lockdown America documents the horrors and absurdities of militarized policing, prisons, a fortified border, and the war on drugs. Its accessible and vivid prose makes clear the links between crime and politics in a period of gathering economic crisis.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Press
In this terrifying, informative, and gripping book, Parenti cuts back and forth between the outrages of the East and the excesses of the West, as New York and California play different leadership roles in the new policing.

— 20 October 1999

Gabriel Roth
Parenti has given us a powerful, chilling book: a compendium of horrors, a history of two decades of 'class struggle from above,' and a call to arms against the increasing militarization of our everyday lives.

San Francisco Bay Guardian, 29 September 1999

Christian Science Monitor
This dark, unflinching look at what our nation has become is sure to disturb, and most readers will disagree strongly with something Parenti has to say. But they will also find other things that resonate deeply. The combination cannot fail to generate serious thought about issues we prefer to lock away in darkness, to our own inevitable peril.

— 2 September 1999

The Village Voice
As we approach a presidential election that will, once again, revolve around Law and Order, Lockdown America deserves to be read by all sides of the political debate.

— 21 September 1999

The Nation
As Parenti makes painfully clear, prisons today are about everything but individual reform. Everybody enjoys safer streets, but the question remains: At what present and future costs has this been accomplished? After reading Parenti's riveting work, more than a few observers will surely respond "too much."

— 11 October 1999

Michael Anft
Parenti convincingly pieces together disparate crime-fighting strategies and shows how they have combined to create a well-funded "police state," one replete with prisons that ironically become the linchpins of so many once-failing small towns.
Baltimore City Paper, 3 November 1999
Craig Aaron
While there has been no shortage of books in recent years on the failures of the American criminal justice system, what separates Parenti's from the others are his gripping descriptions of gang sweeps, border raids, and jailhouse violence... His excellent on-the-ground reporting is paired with a radical--but rarely raving--class analysis of the police and prison crisis.
The Progressive, December 1999
Library Journal
In this important book, Parenti surveys the rise of the prison industrial complex from the Nixon through Reagan eras and into the present. Why does the United States currently have one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world, with over 1.8 million Americans living behind bars? Why are only 29 precent of all prisoners violent offenders? Parenti, a former radio journalist and now a professor at the New College of California, argues that capitalism implies and demands a certain amount of poverty; the powers that be then respond by incarcerating drug users, the underclass, and other relatively powerless persons. Parenti provides a very thorough account of this process as well as a realistic portrayal of an American prison life characterized by rape, torture, gangs, and prisoners as a source of labor. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.--Tim Delaney, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Lockdown America: Police And Prisons In The Age Of Crisis surveys and documents the absurdities, counter productivity, and humanitarian outrages of contemporary American practices of militarized policing, prisons, fortified borders, and "war on drugs" campaign. Written with an accessible and vivid text making clear the links between crime and politics in a period of gathering economic crisis, Lockdown America is a highly recommended and clarion call in behalf of badly needed reforms for the sake of justice, public safety, and the humane treatment of incarcerated individuals.
Paul Rosenberg
This dark, unflinching look at what our nation has become is sure to disturb, and most readers will disagree strongly with something that Parenti has to say. But they will also find other things that resonate deeply. The combination cannot fail to generate serious thought about issues we prefer to lock away in darkness, to our own inevitable peril.
The Christian Science Monitor
From the Publisher
“In the best tradition of investigative journalism, paced like a fine novel, it carries the authority of meticulous academic research.”—Independent

“Exhaustively documented ... deserves a full hearing from anyone serious about ending the often horrific realities of the criminal justice system.”—Washington Post Book World

“Essential reading for those in law enforcement and politics who are attracted by the rhetoric of zero tolerance.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Terrifying, informative and gripping.”—New York Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859847183
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 9/17/1999
  • Pages: 298
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Christian Parenti is the author of The Soft Cage and The Freedom, and is currently writing a book on Afghanistan. He is a visiting fellow at the CUNY Graduate School’s Center for Place, Culture and Politics, and his articles appear regularly in The Nation. He lives in New York City.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Ch. 1 Nixon's Splendid Little War: Social Crisis and Containment 3
Ch. 2 From Crisis to Rollback 29
Ch. 3 A War for All Seasons: The Return of Law and Order 45
Ch. 4 Discipline in Playland, Part I - Zero Tolerance: The Science of Kicking Ass 69
Ch. 5 Discipline in Playland, Part II - Policing the Themepark City 90
Ch. 6 Carrying the Big Stick: SWAT Teams and Paramilitary Policing 111
Ch. 7 Repatriating la Migra's War: The Militarized Border Comes Home 139
Ch. 8 The Rise of Big House Nation: From Reform to Revenge 163
Ch. 9 Prison as Abattoir: Official Terror 170
Ch. 10 Balkans in a Box: Rape, Race War, and Other Forms of Management 182
Ch. 11 Big Bucks from the Big House: The Prison Industrial Complex and Beyond 211
Notes 245
Index 282
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2002

    Serious Business

    Mr. Parenti has written a book about the system and what actually is happening in the court rooms, police stations, and prisons of America. Regarless of Parenti's political ideology and personal background he has indeed presented the reader with actual facts. The arguement here is valid, and begs the reader to ask, "what does this mean to me?" From my experience with the prison system, I can say that everyone in this country needs to start paying attention, and asking questions. 'O Freedom!' What is your price ? Review, former Corrections Officer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2002

    A Hate-Filled Tirade

    When I embarked upon this book, I expected a fair, analytical study of the American criminal justice system. What I got was anything but that. Parenti makes no secret of the fact that he has an agenda in this book. While I concede that Parenti is a bright man who clearly knows a great deal about the criminal justice system, the problems with this book were many: 1. Conspiracy Theory - I could not help but get the impression that this book promulgated a giant conspiracy theory. Parenti unambiguously asserts that the primary function of the law is to oppress African-Americans. While racism exists in this Country, I believe it a bit looney to believe that every law and every police initiative serves the primary function of advancing hate against minorities. 2. One-Sided - He tells many tales of police brutality, botched investigations, etc. but NEVER mentions anything that the criminal justice system has done to protect Americans. There are two sides to every story and Parenti ignores that fact. 3. Childish Insults - Parenti obviously harbors a great deal of anger towards the Republican Party and police departments nationwide. He often lets those feelings manifest themselves in a childish, often acidic manner. He calls Rudy Giuliani a 'ghoul,' he sarcastically calls Dan Quayle a 'towering intellect,' he calls Reagan's federal court appointees 'mean-spirited anti-crime zealots,' and he even goes so far as to mock the way New York Police Chiefs dress while off duty. 4. 250 Pages Of Complaining - All Parenti does in this book is complain. This makes it rather unfulfilling. Complaining is fine, but if you complain you should offer up some kind of solution to the problem. Parenti gives no ideas, no solutions, no recommendations as to what should be done to ameliorate the criminal justice system. The fact that Parenti is so biased certainly takes all credibility away from him. If you are looking for a scholarly, fair-minded study of the American criminal justice system, I HIGHLY recommend that you skip this book and look elsewhere.

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