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American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment Hardcover – May 2, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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Sasha Abramsky uses painstaking research, anecdotal evidence from inmates and tours of penal hellholes across the land to lock in American Furies.” Sacramento News and Review
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Top Customer Reviews
I worked in womens' prisons and juvenile corrections institutions for six years and still found my jaw dropping at the absurdities and horrors described in this nightmare of a book. Whether describing female chain gangs in Arizona, the capitalistic rise of private prisons or the inhuman and torturous conditions in maximum security units, Abramsky conjures the human stories behind the headlines. He contextualizes the present prison crisis by outlining the history of incarceration in the U.S., beginning with the 18th century's silent prisons, through the rehabilitation movements of the 1960s and '70s and then the tough-on-crime backlash of the 1980s through today.
His statistics are damning: In some communities, more young men go to prison than go to college; the U.S. spends more money on criminal justice than on higher education; the U.S. incarcerates more people than any other industrialized nation; and on and on.Read more ›
Abramsky presents images like these throughout the book, based on a series of visits to American prisons. In clear but understated prose, he describes the trends that led to our present condition: somewhere between 1% and 2% of Americans are behind bars. Many are juveniles who are housed in adult prisons. These prisoners are subject to many of the same abuse that led to convictions among 11 enlisted soldiers. I believe Charles Graner had worked in prisons before going on active duty.
On page 175, Abramsky writes, "Can a country's democratic institutions survive when the primary emotion underlying so much of its social policy, and determining the allocation of a sizable proportion of its annual revenues, is revenge?...We will in short become a community in name only, an increasingly atomized continent in which the primary role of government is to instill fear of the law rather than respect for its integrity."
When you consider everything from overzealous security guards to Michael Nifong, I think we're already there.
The main idea of the book is concentrated on the last page:" The stakes are high. In play are the United States' sense of self and historical identity. Like a metastasized cancer, America's incarceration infrastructure - not only its domestic prisons and jails, but its growing web of overseas prisoner-of-war camps and secret facilities for holding terrorism suspects - has started to eat away the country's democratic institutions from the inside out" (178).
American Furies delivers colorful pictures about the inside of the America's prisons, cites interviews with prisoners and prison guards, and stresses the necessity of an individual approach to law breaker's and necessity to give more power to state and local institutions. Author's greatest concerns are:the lack of medical care for prisoners with mental problems and the lack of rehabilitation and education for all prisoners. It creates a revolving door system, where inmates after release from prison are doomed to return to the life of crime. Abramsky demonstrates, how the mass incarceration affects families,neighborhoods and destroys the future of juvenile offenders.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author gives way to many insignificant details and this greatly distracts from the general story. Otherwise, the pacing and information of this book is superb.Published 11 months ago by Avery Harris