LAW & CRIME

Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

New Pr. Jul. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9781620973103. $26.99. LAW
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Journalists Schenwar (editor in chief, Truthout) and Law (Resistance Behind Bars) present a powerful critique of emerging alternatives to traditional incarceration that, rather than reimagining the world without prisons, extend the reach of prison into the communities, homes, and even bodies of the people whom society has criminalized. In a series of thematic yet intimately interconnected chapters, the authors use the stories of people and families caught up in this web of restrictive and punitive reforms to document their failures to reduce violence and offer pathways out of a permanently criminalized underclass. Schenwar and Law document the harsh reality of technologies and practices such as electronic monitoring, house arrest, mandated treatment plans, probation, sex offender registration, forms of carceral parenting, community policing, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Prison alternatives also typically shift financial burdens from the state to the prisoners, making it difficult if not impossible for them to access resources and services that would help them escape the circumstances that led to their criminalization in the first place. The final chapter lays out a brief case for true noncarceral alternatives.
VERDICT Necessary reading for any critic of mass incarceration seeking to understand the myriad policy alternatives and the path to lasting liberation.

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