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Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis [Paperback]

by Christian Parenti
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis 4.2 out of 5 stars (9)
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Book Description

September 17, 2000 1859843034 978-1859843031
Lockdown America documents the horrors and absurdities of militarized policing, prisons, a fortified border, and the war on drugs. Its accessible and vivid prose makes clear the links between crime and politics in a period of gathering economic crisis.

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this important book, Parenti surveys the rise of the prison industrial complex from the Nixon through Reagan eras and into the present. Why does the United States currently have one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world, with over 1.8 million Americans living behind bars? Why are only 29 precent of all prisoners violent offenders? Parenti, a former radio journalist and now a professor at the New College of California, argues that capitalism implies and demands a certain amount of poverty; the powers that be then respond by incarcerating drug users, the underclass, and other relatively powerless persons. Parenti provides a very thorough account of this process as well as a realistic portrayal of an American prison life characterized by rape, torture, gangs, and prisoners as a source of labor. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.ATim Delaney, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“[Parenti’s] exhaustively documented text deserves a full hearing from anyone serious about ending the often horrific realities of the criminal justice system.”—Washington Post Book World

“A fast read, angry and compelling. —Philadelphia City Paper”—

“Essential reading for those in law enforcement and politics.”—Times Literary Supplement

“The book is in the best tradition of investigative journalism, paced like a fine novel, it carries the authority of meticulous academic research.”—The Independent

“This dark, unflinching look at what our nation has become ... cannot fail to generate serious thought about issues we prefer to lock away in darkness.”—Christian Science Monitor

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (September 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859843034
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859843031
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #495,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christian Parenti is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow, contributing editor at The Nation and a visiting professor at Brooklyn College, CUNY. His most recent book is "Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence" (Nation Books, July 2011). As a journalist, he has reported extensively from Afghanistan, Iraq and various parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America and his articles have appeared in Fortune, The Washington Post, The New York Times, London Review of Books, Mother Jones and Playboy. He has a PhD in sociology from the London School of Economics, has held fellowships from OSI, RBF and the Ford Foundation; and has won numerous awards, including the 2009 Lange-Tailor Prize and Best Magazine Writing of 2008 from the Society for Professional Journalists. His three previous books, are: "The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq"; "The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror" and "Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis."

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Valuable Reporting January 12, 2000
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Christian Parenti's "Lockdown America" is one of many excellent recent books on crime policy. As do David Cole and Elliott Currie, Parenti contributes to showing the failures of the one-dimensional crime policies of the past 20-30 years, during which time the only acceptable variation on "get tough" has been "get tougher."
"Lockdown" consists of three parts. First, Parenti surveys the development of crime policy over the past 30-odd years. His account is sterngthened by his placement of crime policy in a broader context of important social and economic trends such as growing income inequality and the decline of manufacturing employment, especially in large cities.
The other two segments focus on two groups who are on the front lines of crime policy--the police and prisons. Parenti describes a number of disturbing trends, such as:
-the spread of "zero-tolerance" policing policies, and the enormous increase in lawlessness and violence on the part of the supposed keepers of the law.
-the growing militarization of police forces as seen in the proliferation of paramilitary SWAT teams and similar units, many of which, again, are responsible for wildly excessive use of force.
-the rampant degree to which prison guards engage in violence against inmates as well as formenting such violence among inmates themselves.
Parenti's reporting is first-rate. While his book is not a complete picture of the crime issue--he is somewhat short on solutions--his account is a valuable complement to the more policy-oriented work of Cole or Currie. "Lockdown America" deserves to be widely read.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SURE TO BE A CULT CLASSIC!!! GREAT PROSE. October 24, 1999
By A Customer
LOCKDOWN AMERICA is an exquisitly crafted gripping read. It traces the last thirty years of law and order politics in the US. I actually found LOCKDOWN hard to put down, Parenti's style combines straightforward, streetwise language with literary and analytic flar. Chocked full of information and obscure sources, the book is grimmly hummorious and politically uncomprising. Most importantly, LOCKDOWN AMERICA provides a thorough and unique explanation for why America is the world's number one jailer.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truthful, courageous expose of the horrors of America. October 14, 1999
This is a brilliant book that resolutely demonstrates the fact that the United States is a vicious police state controlled by an oligarchy of business and military interests. Christian Parenti is a worthy successor to his father, Michael. Unlike academics like Chomsky who criticize policy while ironically defining the limits of dissent with their unsubstantiated characterizations of the US system as a "democracy", Parenti has lived the terrors and shared, like Che, the fate of the people on whom they have been visited, the poor of our inner cities, the immigrants, and the workers. This authenticity and revolutionary consciousness in no way diminishes from the intellectual rigor of his analysis. Christian Parenti's insights, for instance, regarding the bifurcation of social control methods in the US, one for the middle classes grounded in Foucalt-style guilt trips and one for the unwanted masses characterized more directly by physical state terror is original and well developed. I recommend this book most highly.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Interested in a no-nonsense book that demystifies the forces behind contemporary America's police and prison systems? "Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis" by Christian Parenti skillfully connects the dots of US capitalist turmoil and repression with the increasingly ugly, militaristic, and inhumane face of today's policies for "correcting" marginalized people. As someone with a strong interest in these subjects, I found "Lockdown America" original, thought-provoking, and extremely worthwhile reading; a friend with no previous knowledge of the area told me the book provided her with an accessible and compelling background to the deeper issues behind mainstream headlines. Not for the faint-of-heart, "Lockdown America" broadsides readers with chilling accounts from our country's political and economic Fall-Out Zone (fortified with scores of direct-account interviews Parenti conducted with prisoners, activists, front-line officials and bureaucrats). Thankfully, Parenti doesn't let these stories (and therefore his readers) dangle helplessly and hopelessly; rather, he plugs them into a potent analysis of America's reigning social, political, and economic structures and thereby writes a challenging, conscious-raising, action-prompting book. I highly recommend it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Lockdown America: Police And Prisons In The Age Of Crisis surveys and documents the absurdities, counter- productivity, and humanitarian outrages of contemporary American practices of militarized policing, prisons, fortified borders, and "war on drugs" campaign. Written with an accessible and vivid text making clear the links between crime and politics in a period of gathering economic crisis, Lockdown America is a highly recommended and clarion call in behalf of badly needed reforms for the sake of justice, public safety, and the humane treatment of incarcerated individuals.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good information
This is a good source for reconsidering the impartiality of sentencing and incarceration practices in the United States. Very revealing material
Published 15 months ago by Dr. Scott Silverii
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Disturbing, a Must Read
Well written in clear and precise prose. And while it is dark and even disturbing in parts, the book engulfs you and beckons your interest. Read more
Published on February 9, 2011 by EnthuzeYou
1.0 out of 5 stars Inane, Left-wing, Conspiratorial Drivel Under the Guise of Scholarship
In this very silly left-wing rant, Parenti inveighs against everything to the political right of Karl Marx and, as is indicated by the title of the book, focuses much of his screed... Read more
Published on March 3, 2010 by C.D.
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid reporting on the culture of prisons and policing
A powerful consensus is emerging among the many excellent books now being released on prison in America, such as the texts by Miller (1996), Donziger (1996), Rosenblatt (1997),... Read more
Published on December 10, 2007 by Asatar Bair
2.0 out of 5 stars The liberal Rush Limbaugh
When I embarked upon reading this book, I thought I would be getting a fair and precise look into the American legal system. What I got was anything but that. Read more
Published on April 2, 2003 by Dan
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable
This is the best book I've ever read that deals with the burgeoning police-state in the U.S. Parenti ranges far and wide by giving a sound structural analysis as to why police and... Read more
Published on July 16, 2002 by Drew Hunkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable
This is the best book I have ever read dealing with the burgeoning police state in the US. Parenti ranges far and wide by giving a sound structural analysis as to why police and... Read more
Published on February 27, 2002 by Drew Hunkins
5.0 out of 5 stars YES!
This is a very well written, very thoughtful study of the last 30 years of the criminal justice buildup in this country. Read more
Published on January 25, 2002
1.0 out of 5 stars SLOPPY
The (good) message of this book is undermined both by its conspiratorial tone and its sloppy reportage (resulting in many inaccuracies). Read more
Published on June 14, 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Important, but...
Factually, this is an excellent book. Parenti is a gifted writer, and the criminal justice system has long needed an expose of this type. Read more
Published on August 8, 2000 by Cade Foster
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