Dismantling Mass Incarceration: A Handbook for Change

FSG Originals. Jul. 2024. 496p. ed. by Premal Dharia & others. ISBN 9780374614485. pap. $20. SOC SCI
Edited by scholars, activists, and former public defenders, this rich collection of reprinted articles, chapters, essays, and court decisions explores mass incarceration in the United States and ways to intervene in, reform, and disrupt the system. Two million people are behind bars in the United States, which accounts for 20 percent of prisoners worldwide. Editors Dharia (director, Inst. To End Mass Incarceration, Harvard Law Sch.), Pulitzer Prize winner James Forman Jr. (faculty director, Yale Law and Racial Justice Ctr.; Locking Up Our Own), and Maria Hawilo (mass incarceration, Loyola Univ. Law Sch.) examine ways to dismantle this carceral state. The book’s six sections each start with an essay introducing nine to 12 short readings on key aspects of U.S. mass-incarceration, including prisons, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, juries, and police. Activists, academics, lawyers, and reporters share unflinchingly personal stories, analyze data, and articulate strategies. Visions for change range from advocating for restorative justice and prison abolition to restoring civil rights to formerly incarcerated people, banning cash bail, using cameras, not police officers, to enforce traffic laws, and obligating prosecutors to justify spending public money to prosecute minor offenses.
VERDICT Required reading for activists, legal professionals, and public officials. It’s sure to be assigned in seminars and college classrooms for years to come.
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