Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis / Edition 2

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Overview

Why is criminal justice so central to American politics? Lockdown America notonly documents the horrors and absurdities of militarized policing,prisons, a fortified border, and the federalization of the war oncrime, it also explains the political and economic history behind themassive crackdown. This updated edition includes an afterword on the War on Terror, a meditation on surveillance and the specter of terrorism as they help reanimate the criminal justice attack. Written in vivid prose, Lockdown America willpropel readers toward a deeper understanding of the links between crimeand politics in a period of gathering economic crisis.

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Editorial Reviews

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

Independent
“In the best tradition of investigative journalism, paced like a fine novel, it carries the authority of meticulous academic research.”
New York Press
“Terrifying, informative and gripping.”
Times Literary Supplement
“Essential reading for those in law enforcement and politics who are attracted by the rhetoric of zero tolerance.”
Washington Post Book World
“Exhaustively documented ... deserves a full hearing from anyone serious about ending the often horrific realities of the criminal justice system.”
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844672493
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 7/20/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 306
  • Sales rank: 310,073
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (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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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2008

    Superb study of a failed system

    In this remarkable book, American journalist and researcher Christian Parenti shows how the USA¿s economic and social crisis has produced a huge growth in criminalisation, especially through the war on drugs. He explains how capitalism creates poverty, through both crisis and policy. From 1966 to 1974, profits fell by 30%. Reagan put interest rates up to 16.4% in 1981, causing a slump ¿ ten million people were unemployed by 1982 and wages were slashed by 8%. Real unemployment for African American men has been more than 25% for three decades. As Alan Budd, an economic advisor to Thatcher, said, ¿Rising unemployment was a very desirable way of reducing the strength of the working classes.¿ Capitalism creates a surplus population, the reserve army of the unemployed, to drive wages down. To manage the rising poverty, inequality and unemployment that capitalism causes, the state uses paramilitary forms of repression, segregation and criminalisation. These include paramilitary policing, SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams, zero tolerance policing, national surveillance and mass imprisonment. Both crime control and crime keep the people suppressed. The US imprisonment rate was 100/120 per 100,000 until the 1981 slump. 31% of prisoners are in for property offences, 30% for drug offences, 9% for public order offences, and 29% for violent offences. Parenti examines the USA¿s appalling prison industrial complex, which surely provide the rest of us with a model ¿ of how not to run prisons. However, this has not stopped Labour ministers rushing to the USA trying to copy their masters. Parenti shows how US prison guard unions have often successfully opposed the opening of privatised prisons, which have proved to be even worse than the public ones. Prisons have become ever bigger, with Titan prisons making the problems even bigger as well. Everyone has to choose whether to blame the system that produces poverty, or to blame the poor. Parenti quotes Lenin, ¿every state is a `special repressive force¿ for the suppression of the oppressed class.¿ Parenti concludes, ¿My recommendations, as regards criminal justice, are quite simple: we need less. Less policing, less incarceration, shorter sentences, less surveillance, fewer laws governing individual behaviors, and less obsessive discussion of every lurid crime, less prohibition, and less puritanical concern with `freaks¿ and `deviants¿.¿

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