From Asylum to Prison: Deinstitutionalization and the Rise of Mass Incarceration after 1945

From Asylum to Prison: Deinstitutionalization and the Rise of Mass Incarceration after 1945

by Anne E. Parsons

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To many, asylums are a relic of a bygone era. State governments took steps between 1950 and 1990 to minimize the involuntary confinement of people in psychiatric hospitals, and many mental health facilities closed down. Yet, as Anne Parsons reveals, the asylum did not die during deinstitutionalization. Instead, it returned in the modern prison industrial complex as the government shifted to a more punitive, institutional approach to social deviance. Focusing on Pennsylvania, the state that ran one of the largest mental health systems in the country, Parsons tracks how the lack of community-based services, a fear-based politics around mental illness, and the economics of institutions meant that closing mental hospitals fed a cycle of incarceration that became an epidemic.

This groundbreaking book recasts the political narrative of the late twentieth century, as Parsons charts how the politics of mass incarceration shaped the deinstitutionalization of psychiatric hospitals and mental health policy making. In doing so, she offers critical insight into how the prison took the place of the asylum in crucial ways, shaping the rise of the prison industrial complex.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469640631
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 10/08/2018
Series: Justice, Power, and Politics
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 904,826
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Anne E. Parsons is assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she serves as the director of Public History.

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From the Publisher

Important and timely, Parsons's analysis of postwar deinstitutionalization complicates and deepens the existing narratives about its causes, timing, and consequences.--Nancy Tomes, Stony Brook University

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