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Ironies of Imprisonment / Edition 1

Ironies of Imprisonment / Edition 1

4.3 32
by Michael F. Welch, Todd R. Clear

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ISBN-10: 0761930590

ISBN-13: 9780761930594

Pub. Date: 06/28/2004

Publisher: SAGE Publications

Ironies of Imprisonment examines in-depth an array of problems confronting correctional programs and policies from the author’s singular and consistent critical viewpoint. The book challenges the prevailing logic of mass incarceration and traces the ironies of imprisonment to their root causes, manifesting in social, political, economic, and racial


Ironies of Imprisonment examines in-depth an array of problems confronting correctional programs and policies from the author’s singular and consistent critical viewpoint. The book challenges the prevailing logic of mass incarceration and traces the ironies of imprisonment to their root causes, manifesting in social, political, economic, and racial inequality. Unique and accessible, this book promises to stimulate spirited discussion and debate over the use of prisons.

Product Details

SAGE Publications
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Foreward - By Todd R. Clear, Distinguished Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
1. Introduction
2. Discovery of the Penitentiary
3. Critical Penology
4. War on Drugs and Just War Theory
5. Health Care Crisis Behind Bars
6. Reproducing Prison Violence
7. Ironies of Capital Punishment
8. War on Terror and the Misuse of Detention
9. Punitive Profit
10. Confronting Corrections

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Ironies of Imprisonment 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
WTVCrimeDawg More than 1 year ago
Anything from Welch is garbage. My criminal justice instructors assigned two Welch books: Ironies of Imprisonment and Flag Burning, and I hated both. Welch makes a few good points, but anything he writes or says is a liberal argument, not research, and should be balanced with another point-of-view. Todd Clear is also very biased, and I was not surprised to see Clear's contributions to Welch's agenda. I'm sure that Welch and Clear hang-out together and talk about new ways to present arguments in support of liberal-biased agendas, instead of conducting unbiased research in an effort to promote the most cost-effective and results-oriented programs, if any.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anything that is written by a college professor and used for teaching purposes should not be one sided. Micheal Welch HATES this administration and it shows in his books and class teachings. Both sides of a issue should be presented and discussed without any judgement towards one side. His failure to do so shows in his works and attitude towards his students. If you want a fair and unbiased knowledge of the prison system this is not the book for you
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael Welch is far from an unbiased man (as is evident in his other books including 'Flag Burning'). But even though he does preach only a certain view, he backs his hypotheses up with a lot of well-researched information. 'Ironies' is a critical and thought out book dealing with life in America's prisons, with topics ranging from 'Health Care' to 'Prisoner Violence' and 'The War on Terror'. Welch also prefaces each chapter with a relevant and usually very interesting true story. Welch doesn't just examine the basic issues of any topic, but goes in-depth and brings up the possible greater social causes of things such as minorities imprisoned. Welch is one of my professors at Rutgers University and uses this book as one of his required texts for the class, so I was lucky enough to receive an even greater understanding of the information presented in 'Ironies'. That man does know what he's talking about it, and agree or disagree with his opinion, one must admit he is incredibly knowledgeable on the material he writes about. That's not a surprise considering the extensive background he's had within the corrections industry. The book is definitely not for those who are unwilling to open their minds to a different perspective on corrections, but I highly recommend it for any student of Criminal Justice/Administration of Justice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the book Ironies of Imprisonment, Michael Welch does an exceptional job evaluating the many problems currently plaguing the American correctional system. The book outlines the heart of the ideas of critical penology. Professor Welch¿s critical view points are explained and applied to the current American correctional system. The end of chapter conclusion and review questions drive in the ideas Professor Welch is expressing. Professor Welch gives fascinating examples of how the inequalities of the criminal justice system affect individuals unfairly. Each chapter opens with a real-life example of an individual who was caught up in the criminal justice system. The real-life examples are the most interesting and easily convey how unjustly people are convicted and turned into criminals for minor offences. The most interesting example I found to be was the idea of mass imprisonment, which is what the American criminal justice system is based on. The book is written in a way in which Professor Welch conveys a great amount of information and statistics but also keeps the reader entertained. Every student in the criminal justice major or anyone interested in the subject would benefit by reading Professor Welch¿s book. I would also suggest reading Corrections: A Critical Approach written by Professor Welch to further reinforce the critical viewpoint on the American correctional system.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ironies of Imprisonment is, in my opinion, Professor Michael Welch¿s best book! Professor Welch covers many important topics that everyone should know about and describes in detail just how many people are denied their rights. I personally felt the chapters on the War on Terror and the Health Care Crisis were amazing. Many prisoners are denied adequate medical treatment, are frequently abused by correctional officers, and are even sometimes forced to fight each other. The amount of government secrecy that has occurred is astonishing as well! Professor Welch enforces the concept that non-violent drug offenders are the number one convicted prisoners, as compared to the actual violent sex offenders and other hostile men and women that receive lesser sentences. I recommend this book to students and potential employees of the criminal justice system alike. Professor Welch provides a substantial amount of facts and statistics that allow one to truly realize just how right he is. The author is extremely knowledgeable and has many years of experience in the field. Furthermore, because Professor Welch worked in the prison system before, he is basing this book entirely off of facts, statistics, and his experiences. If you want to be intrigued and more aware of the true modern day criminal justice system, definitely buy this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Welch writes an amazing book that is easy for anyone to understand. It offers a good history of the justice system and factual evidence to support the idea of irony within the justice system. It is real, raw, and straight to the point. There is no effort to sugar coat the correctional system as many other texts try to do. The book is filled with true stories that are almost unbelievable and depict outrageous human rights' violations in the U.S. Criminal Justice System. This books hits on every critical issue facing the system today, including the war on drugs, the war on terror, and prisoner health issues. Anyone involved in the CRJ system needs to definitely read this book and give the information conveyed serious consideration. If you believe that prisoners have too many rights and are well taken care of,you will be shocked to learn about the blatant disregard of prisoners, especially those who have medical problems. Many prisoners often have substance abuse problems for which they receive no help or treatment. Educational programs have been cut drastically, leaving prisoners with simply nothing to do but time. I was always under the impression that America's prisoners had too many resources, but this book really opened my eyes and gave me a whole new respect for the human rights of prisoners. Dr. Welch is a true humanitarian and civil rights activist. I'm glad he decided to write a book that covers the truth that the CRJ doesn't want the public to acknowledge.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ironies of Imprisonment is quite a page turner. The book allows you to not only know the horrific conditions of the prison system, but informs the reader of the reasons why it is the way it is. The area of poor prison conditions is one that many people do not touch base on and do not want to. They simply attempt to reclassifly these people as monsters rather than people, thereby making it ok to treat them as so. If people only new how many prisoners were locked away for non-vilonet charges, and given the real reasons as to why prisoners are treated as they are, then possibly people could make it a big enough issue that changes could occurr. Michael Welch is an interesting writer that has the ability to inform the reader while keeping the reader entertained and astonished. This book is one that I would recommend for all to read, especially anyone who is planning on futhering a career in the criminal justice system. Anyone who goes into the criminal justice field, particularly law enforcement, should know a great deal about prisons and the kind of place they could potentially send someone. If more law enforecement officers knew the truth behind prisons, then more officers may use discression and good judgemnet calls more often, which could in turn help more people than harm.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ironies of Imprisonment is a book written to show how the prison system and the whole criminal justice system contradicts itself. It gives you so much information about the inner workings of the criminal justice system. One of the most compelling chapters in the book is about the health care crises behind bars. It makes you realize how cruel the system is, allowing offenders with serious diseases such as AIDS to be mistreated and denied adequate medical care. This book brings so much hidden information to the attention of its readers. Dr. Welch finds a way to captivate his readers by portraying the criminal justice system as it is. Some textbooks hide the faults of the system and only introduce you to the positive aspects. The author is extremely knowledgeable in his field. This is evident in the way that he writes the book and presents facts to back up all of his claims. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in going into the field of criminal justice. It helps you to see what you are really getting into. Whether you are interested in the criminal justice system or not, this book will grab your attention and expose you to the unbelievable realities that go in within the prison system
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, Ironies of Imprisonment written by Dr. Michael Welch, criminal justice professor at Rutgers University is very intriguing. As a criminal justice major with more concentration towards law enforcement rather than corrections, I was skeptical at first about this book. However, my attitudes soon shifted after I began reading the chapters. The book is very compelling and offers not only personal opinions after years of research in the corrections field but also strong facts about the American Justice system. Unlike other books that I have read, this is written on a level that individuals new to the criminal justice field will understand but at the same time provides an in dept discovery of new ideas in the correction field. I mostly enjoyed the many examples that dealt with not violent drug offenders versus violent sexual offenders and in contrast the number of years more that drug offenders have to serve in this country. I definitely recommend this book to not only students in the field but any individual who wants to read about the American Justice system and study the different examples and theories of a correctional system that is designed to fail.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ironies of Imprisonment is a page turner right from the beginning. This book is not only clear and concise, but also full of attention-grabbing experiences that author Michael Welch himself saw and experienced during his time working for the corrections institution. His wealth of knowledge and first-hand experiences come hand in hand, almost making the many ironies of the corrections system come to life. One may wonder why the crime rate continues to decrease while the incarceration rate continues to increase. This is just one of the many questions Dr. Welch answers in this book. Ironies of Imprisonment focuses on modern day issues such as the war on drugs, just war theory, the health care crisis behind bars, capital punishment, prison violence, and the prison system as a profit institution. Each chapter contains a thought provoking beginning and conclusion that leaves the reader wondering how our government continues to allow such mistreatment, crime, and bias to exist in our corrections system. Dr. Welch also uses the terrorist attack on 9/11/01, the current war in Iraq, and the many failures of the Bush Administration since 9/11 in order to further absorb the reader. Ironies of Imprisonment proves that our criminal justice system is anything but just. Anyone even remotely interested in our prison systems should not skip this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found the book Ironies of Imprisonment to be very interestingbecause it is dealing with current issues. In the book the issues of prison violence, war on terror and war on drugs are all discussed. Being a young college student I find it much more interesting when books cover issues that I know about or have heard of. I am much more eager to learn about things that have occured in my lifetime than things that happend hundreds of years ago. That is one thing in particular that makes it easier to read books for educational purposes. This book also uses examples from society which makes it easier to understand the main points. I also like how the opinions on these topics are not the same as many other adults, professors and officials. The book makes you see things from another view and not what the majority want you to think. Another thing I liked about this book was the use of actual cases to get the point across. Overall I did like this book and I feel that I learned a great deal from reading it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great read for anyone who wants an in depth look at the corrections system. It shows the realities of the weaknesses in the system the United States uses to penalize 'criminals'. As the title suggests, Ironies of Imprisonment details the ironies in the policy making decisions that shape the corrections system. It shows the whole system in a light that is harsh but real as opposed to the way it is portrayed by the media. It highlights many injustices in the system, not only how they affect society, but how social forces affect them. In addition, it gives a clear idea of how and why the policies that shape this system came about. Ironies of Imprisonment brings to light the reality of the policies that we have come to rely on such as the so-called War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism. It shows how our ideas of these policies have come to be distorted through media and other control mechanisms. While understanding these concepts could prove difficult, considering the large number of factors that influence each of them; the information is presented in a clear and concise manner. The outlining of information is both insightful and full of examples. This is a must read for anyone looking to get a comprehensive look at the corrections system in America. Ironies in Imprisonment is the most honest look at some of the biggest issues and problems we face in the field of criminal justice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Professor Michael Welch with his text Ironies of Imprisonment has gone through great lengths to illuminate some of the often overlooked attributes of American penology¿as it applies to prisons and mass incarceration¿there by presenting the contradictions of a corrections system that increasingly relies on controlling its ¿problem¿ population through imprisonment. As a product of the critical school of criminology professor Welch poses some tough questions regarding the current administrations support for the expansion of the already substantial prison system and, challenges the widely accepted ¿tough on crime¿ policy as it further regresses the already backward¿amongst industrialized nations¿American corrections system. Professor Michael Welch illustrates his points through truly graphic and eye-opening examples found at the beginning of each chapter, and continues on with his evaluation of current correction policy utilizing materialist dialectics as the primary method of analysis, providing the reader with a unique vantage point of American correction policy. For someone that is interested in a unique, critical and objective evaluation of the American penal system and its prisons as well as an extensive analysis of the issues found at its roots I strongly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a current student of Dr. Michael Welch, I must admit that I was quite skeptical before reading Ironies of Imprisonment. I have always been an aficionado of studies in Criminal Justice, though my interests fell more on the side of laws and statutes, law enforcement, and the networking between the various agencies working diligently to keep crime at bay. Needless to say, I previously had little interest in examining the evolution of the prison and correctional systems functioning throughout our society. Quite frankly, I found examining the prison system terribly boring. However, Dr. Welch¿s book has changed my perspective entirely. I now realize the value of the role of correctional methods in our criminal justice system, and I have gained a greater appreciation of the complex dynamics involved in policy-making and reform in our current prison system. In Ironies of Imprisonment, Dr. Welch systematically outlines the evolution of domestic networks of incarceration and corrections, from Colonial America, through the Jacksonian Era, to present day prison life. Each chapter begins with an engaging real-life vignette and ends with summary questions to solidify the reader¿s understanding of the material within. In between the vignette and the summary questions, each chapter is chock full of information, statistics from empirical studies to back up Welch¿s assertions, and even his suggestions on how we might better our policies in the area of corrections and incarceration. Dr. Welch¿s critique of the correctional process and prison reform, as well as penology, the War on Drugs and Just War Theory, health care within the prison system, prison violence, the ironies of capitol punishment, punitive profit, and Three Strikes/Zero Tolerance policies provide an intimate look into the current state of our correctional process, and uncover the hidden secrets that policy-makers are so quick to brush under the carpet when it comes time for re-election. It is along these lines that I praise Dr. Welch for his inclusion of a chapter on the War on Terror and the misuse of detention¿a hot topic for both domestic and international proponents of human rights and corrections reform. I thank Dr. Michael Welch for his passion and dedication to his work, especially this book, through which I have gained a greater respect and appreciation for the complexities of the evolution and current roles of the prison and correctional systems currently in place in our society. A sure thing--this book will not disappoint!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a student at Rutgers University who was assigned to read selected chapters from the book, Ironies of Imprisonment, by Michael Welch (also my professor). Not only did I find the topics and explanations interesting, but I also found myself reading the whole book! The issues that are discussed, such as ¿The War on Drugs,¿ brought about very critical points about the problems of the existing policies today. The book is written very well and forces readers to think about several ironies in the criminal justice system. It is refreshing to hear the other side of the arguments about laws and policies that most Americans just accept. I am glad to have a professor that finally questions such critical issues as the health care crisis behind bars, the ironies of capital punishment, and the war on terror. From reading this book, I feel that I understand so much more about current problems facing the criminal justice system. Perhaps if more people thought about these things, changes could be made to improve the world today, as the issues in this book also affect society as a whole. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who thinks that there is nothing wrong with the existing laws on imprisonment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An interesting book that is just as readable as it is informative. This book takes a deep look at many issues in the correctional system unveiling many ¿ironies,¿ like how the death penalty, for example, is used to kill killers, which is proving¿? Or, how many prisoners are moved from one violent or disturbed community and simply placed in another, prison, where they are left to fend for themselves. In addition, the book examines topics such as the war on terror, the war on drugs, the business and economy of prisons and the healthcare crisis behind bars. Welch has provided a basis for intellectual thinking and a critical viewpoint of the American justice system.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great book if you are truly interested in the dark side of corrections. While many individuals view the criminal justice system as one that imprisons criminals, and eventually, rehabilitates them, turning them into ¿normal¿ individuals that are capable of being released back into the community, it is not that simple. As the title suggests, Ironies of Imprisonment highlights all the various ironies of corrections that define the Criminal Justice System in America. Further, it illustrates just how unfair the American Criminal Justice System is due to the fact that it is organized surrounding racist notions, and even around different classes of people. Moreover, Ironies of Imprisonment is a great read because it addresses numerous policies that are believed to be crucial in dealing with some of the worlds leading problems, including the so-called War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism. While some may view these sorts of programs as just and a great way to deal with various problems, Ironies of Imprisonment illustrates just how one-sided these programs are, addressing the needs and wants of the government in the first place, rather than helping the citizenry in general. Michael Welch addresses numerous aspects of the criminal justice system in a way that is easy to comprehend although there are so many intricate components to each aspect. If one wishes to delve into the truth behind many of our nation¿s policies and the like, this is one book that I definitely recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book gives you a liberal and truthful perspective, that you do not usualy see in a criminal justice textbook. Dr. Welch gives a critical analasys of hte prison system, ranging in topics from the attrocities of the death penalty, to the injustices of understaffed and undertrained prison for hire systems. This book gives you a liberal and truthful perspective that you do not usually see in a criminal justice textbook. Dr. Welch gives a critical analysis of the prison system, ranging in topics from the atrocities of the death penalty, to the injustices of understaffed and under trained prison for hire systems. This book challenges what you have been taught in class and through the popular media outlets that tell you how fantastic the criminal justice system is. It shows that truthfully in America we do not have a criminal justice system we have a CRIMINAL justice system, with more emphasis on the criminal aspects, rather then a concern on the just treatment and rehabilitation of the individuals who become a part of this revolving door system. Not only does Dr. Welch talk about abstract sociological and psychological theorems, but he substantiates these schemas with rich accounts of actual cases that he has studied. Dr. Welch has written a book, that is truly a fun read, although at points what you will be learning will be disturbing as you find out the atrocious injustices that our great American criminal justice system relies on to function. This book is truly refreshing to see that there is a critical voice within the system, because without criticism there could be no advancement in the fight against the injustices of this criminal justice institution.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Professor Welch is an excellent historian and reseacher and this is very evident in Ironies. Each chapter begins with an interesting story/example leading into what is to come in the chapter. Welch brings up many points that most people don't consider when thinking of prisons, such as prison as an industry and health care in prisons. Welch keeps his work interesting by including an endless amount of examples in each chapter, on each specific subject. This is an excellent book for anyone studying or interested in criminal justice, or anyone who questions our federal systems. Michael Welch is a strong writer with strong opinions in this very complete, entertaining book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael Welch and his approach towards the criminal justice system take corrections to a new level of thinking and learning. Ironies of Imprisonment makes you aware of all the hidden agendas and subcultures that exist in todays prison population. He also makes you aware of all the problems and weaknesses that are in fact found within the realm of corrections as well as detailing and highlighting points through his critical approach. His book also consists of many facts and details of what happens behind closed doors so to speak. His wisdom on the subject of corrections surpasses all previous books I have read on the subject of corrections. This fine book traces the root of all evil and Michael Welch provides many great points to better understand corrections and the problems associated with it. Overall I highly recommend this book to anyone who has any sort of interest in criminal justice and corrections. Even if people who arent interested in the criminal justice system should read this book because it provides a new light of ideas and wisdom that no other book in its class can compare to. Michael Welch has done a terrific job on making a book so filled with ideas to enrich young minds to open and let new light in on a very interesting subject. Great read for anyone who likes more insight into the criminal justice system.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In his book Ironies of Imprisonment, Michael Welch writes comprehensively about the American Prison System. He writes in depth about the realities of prison life. This book opened my eyes to the harsh treatment of prisoners with regards to health care. Welch also discusses how the system is unjust and how many minorities are unequally affected by the so called War on Drugs. Some of the other chapters include topics such as Reproducing Prison Violence, Ironies of Captital Punishment, and the War on Terror. This book is written in a way that makes reading enjoyable and painless. This book has made me question whether or not the American Prison System is actually working. Many of the ideas I learned I have shared with others. I suggest this book to anyone who is willing to be open to the idea that maybe major prison reform has to take place in order for the system to work. Many people have been unjustly punished for minor crimes because of their race or status in society. This book shows who. Welch has worked in a variety of places and settings and has seen the realities of the system and has had no problem putting those realities down on paper. This is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Each chapter begins with an interesting, real life story of some of the injustice that goes on in the prison system. One instance tells a story of a man who on his day of execution attempted to over dose and kill himself. This man was rush to the hospital, had his stomach pumped, only later to be killed as planned. This book is very up to date, and includes a chapter that focuses on the post 9/11 world. The chapter, ¿War on Terror and the Misuse of Detention¿ shows how people right here in our own country are being mistreated for looking a certain way. This is too little too late, but is being accepted due to government created fear. Also, every chapter has questions at the end to reflect on, and even though this is not a text book it helps to keep you thinking about these issues. Over all a great look into the prison system, a way to see things you would not be able to see any other way. One of the more interesting things I learned was the aging prison population. Thanks to mandatory sentencing, and lengthy sentences our prison population is becoming increasingly filled with elders. This leads to need for medical attention, which many times is not given. You may not agree with all of Michael Welch¿s views but this book will defiantly open your eyes!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Prison system is widely known, but hardly understood conceptually. Michael Welch invites you into the Prison system as it actually is and challenges you to look deeply into the consequences of current policy. Mr. Welch takes a critical approach towards important topics such as health care in prisons, prison violence, capital punishment as well as other important topics such as the War on Drugs, the Just War Theory, and the War on Terror and where these concepts succeed and most importantly fail. This book is a perfect opportunity to expand your current understanding of the Prison system and be able to look critically at where our nation stands on punishment as well as possible positive changes that can be made to the current system. Ironies of Imprisonment is a recommended read for someone new to the world of Prisons, to garner a correct understanding of how the system actually works as opposed to what you are told via media sources, as well as a good read for those knowledgeable in the Prison industry, as it introduces ideas and concepts not widely held in the traditional world of penology. Its a must read for those wanting to stray from the classical view on the Prison system and an ideal supplement to any Criminal Justice course focused on the Prison system.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the ironies of imprisonment was a great book, the author definatley put a lot of detail into this one. Probably my favorite chapter out of all the ones I read, was the one on health care. It gave true to life stories on how situations in health care became a crisis behind bars. Talks about diseases such as aids, and how it affected prison guards and what not... overall I have not finished the entire book yet, but so far from what I have read it definatley gets my approval. I look forward to reading the chapter on capital punishment tonight, due to the fact that it has a lot of issues between society and the government having conflicting views. I believe firmly in capital punishment, and I look forward to reading what Michael Welch has in this chapter on the views of capital punishment. The best part of the book is that it takes true stories, and uses them from different aspects to stress points. It is a very intresting book, and offers a lot to the criminal justice major, and informed reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Ironies of Imprisonment was a book with a lot of deep underlying principles and theories concerning imprisonment. These ideas and terms were put together in a way that was understandable to the student, but at times was a little slow. I personally took a lot out of the chapter about the war on drugs, and the just war theory. I also enjoyed that the book focused on what could be fixed with the criminal justice system, rather than what was right with it. This book also made it very clear just how much violence goes on inside of prisons. The actual amount of violence is made very vivid, and is expressed in gross detail. The discussion about the post nine eleven world we live in is also very intriguing. The zero tolerance stance that the United States has taken is talked about, and prodded as to how relevant this approach really is. There is talk about how the special registration program that is being proposed is extremely racist and is resorting back to old views. In fact, the entire criminal justice system has been shown to be extremely racist and prejudiced against poor people in general. This revelation shown by Michael Welch along with other common themes made this book very informative and extremely helpful in understanding the criminal justice system.