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.
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.
Table of Contents
Nixon's Splendid Little War: Social Crisis and Containment
From Crisis to Rollback
A War for All Seasons: The Return of Law and Order
Discipline in Playland, Part I--Zero Tolerance: The Science of Kicking Ass
Discipline in Playland, Part II--Policing the Themepark City
Carrying the Big Stick: SWAT Teams and Paramilitary Policing
Repatriating la Migra's War: The Militarized Border Comes Home
The Rise of Big House Nation: From Reform to Revenge
Prison as Abattoir: Official Terror
Balkans in a Box: Rape, Race War, and Other Forms of Management
Big Bucks from the Big House: The Prison Industrial Complex and Beyond
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.
Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis 3.8 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
This book tells the absolute and ethical truth which provides open minds with a greater understanding as to why and how society is where it is today and the perspective provides that hope can still prevail and that there are solutions, society needs to just be willing to move forward and be moral and ethical in their personal lives as well as in their employment opportunities.
More than 1 year ago
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¿.¿
More than 1 year ago
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.
More than 1 year ago
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.