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A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America Hardcover – August 30, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595584978
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595584977
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Ernest Drucker has added a new voice to the debate about prisons and provided a previously missing but enormously valuable scientific perspective. The book is both wonderfully written and packed with insight. People who already think they know a lot about the problem of mass incarceration will learn from this book, and people who don't know much about it will get everything they need to know.
—Todd Clear, Dean of the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice

A towering achievement, A Plague of Prisons does something rare and valuable: it provides a new way of looking at, thinking about, and analyzing old and familiar data, thereby creating fresh insights into and understanding of a social catastrophe.
—Ira Glasser, Former Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union

Drucker brings the tools of epidemiology, the informed perspective of a social critic, and the graceful language of a natural writer to illuminate the plague of incarceration that is crippling poor and primarily minority urban communities, and to make a clear, cogent call for reform.
—Jamie Fellner, Senior Advisor, U.S. Program, Human Rights Watch

A seminal book by a truly gifted scholar. Read and weep and then pass along this important work to everyone who has a stake in reforming the contemporary U.S. criminal justice system—which is to say, all of us.
—Stephen Flynn, Ph.D., President, Center for National Policy

A careful, colorful, and much needed examination of the causes and consequences of the epidemic of incarceration in the United States with enormous relevance for anyone concerned about public health, criminal justice, and public policy.
—Jim Curran, Dean, Rollins School of Public Health and Co-Director, Emory Center for AIDS Research

Ernie Drucker has long been a leader in new ways of thinking about issues of crime and drugs. He’s helped us to imagine a true public health approach to these problems.
—Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project and author of Race to Incarcerate

About the Author

Ernest Drucker is a scholar in residence and senior research associate at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. He is professor emeritus of family and social medicine at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He is an NIH-funded researcher, editor-in-chief of the international Harm Reduction Journal, a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Global Health, and a Soros Justice Fellow. He is also a founder and former chairman of Doctors of the World/USA. He lives in New York City.

More About the Author

Ernest Drucker is a scholar in residence and senior research associate at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. He is professor emeritus of family and social medicine at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. He is an NIH-funded researcher, editor-in-chief of the international Harm Reduction Journal, a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Global Health, and a Soros Justice Fellow. He is also a founder and former chairman of Doctors of the World/USA. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By GLFilerman on October 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book will leave you informed, angry, frustrated and challenged. Drucker provides an overview of the social,political,economic and public health context of incarceration in America. At the same time he demonstrates how the science, art, and application of epidemiology provides understanding the drivers of this plague on our society and how it can be reduced, if not reversed. One of the many strengths of the book is how he draws upon recent research to support his case and challenge. It is a must read for policy makers as well as students of law, public health and all of the other professions that work in the field. It is an important contribution.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nagy on December 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a unique analysis of the mass incarceration in America, Ernest Drucker's A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America provides scientific reasons that mass incarceration is more destructive than Cholera or AIDS or any other deadly diseases in the history of human. Drucker, a long time epidemiologist, argued that prisons have been a real danger to the public heath since the 1970s when the "War on Drugs" started. He argues that, to find cure to the disease of mass incarceration, "we must control the toxic agent, the prison itself."

Just like one of the greatest movies, in the first few chapters, Drucker used the historical events to illustrate the scientific way to track sources of diseases and mapping the places and the best way to eliminate the spread of such ..... of the sinking Titanic, the outbreak of the cholera in London and how the outbreaks and public health responses, and on (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome) illustrate basic epidemiological method--mapping outbreaks, tracing vectors, identifying the demography of the afflicted--in the interest of preventing disease transmission.

Later in the book, Drucker illustrated the specific health costs of incarceration in the wake of New York's highly punitive Rockefeller drug laws in 1973. Using empirical data to prove his argument, he used the public health concepts of "years of life lost" and "disability-adjusted life years," measurements that epidemiologists use to quantify the relative magnitude of disasters. He showed that blacks and minorities who live in poor neighborhoods have developed chronic diseases which means, he argues, the drug laws are public health threat.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bobbo on March 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is an informed book on the folly of U.S. criminal justice laws and health care policies and practices. The narrative is beautifully crafted and is compelling for a wide audience. The book should be required reading for public health and criminal justice students and professionals. Every public policy maker should have a copy on his or her desk.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Norman A. Pattis on October 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sending folks off to prison is a sad reality for criminal defense lawyers. From the well of the court, these voyages are always cast as morality plays, dramas in which the defendant is accused of transgressing some social, and perhaps also some moral, code. Holding the defendant "accountable" is the rhetorical move prosecutors and judges rely upon to imprison.

But the rhetoric of punishment rings hollow. Something more is going on. We send so many folks to prison, and often for such trifling reasons. Things have reached a point in which it makes sense to speak of mass incarceration. Is this best thought of as an epidemic?

Ernest Drucker thinks so. He brings the skills of an epidemiologist to bear on why, with five percent of the world's population, the United States incarcerates 25 percent of the world's prisoners. His answer is simple: the war on drugs accounts for the explosive growth during the past forty years of the prison population.

The statistics are familiar enough. Young black men, young Hispanic men, face a far greater chance of landing in prison than to their white counterparts, and usually for drug offenses. We build prisons at an astonishing rate. Some 2.5 million Americans are currently behind bars. Millions more are on probation.

Drucker's brief work supports from a novel perspective the need for reform of drug laws. We need treatment, not prison; legalization, not the creation of an incarcerated nation.

This is a well-written and even entertaining book about a depressing subject. I was dubious about whether Drucker could pull the analysis off. He did, but, I suspect, I was an easy cell. Mass incarceration is a national disaster.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nether on March 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book displays yet another reason why we have a major incarceration problem in the US that is mostly attributed to the failed drug war
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jimolly on September 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good. Had to read this for a doctoral seminar class. Very interesting material. 4 stars vs 5 stars cause the author repeated himself and his points excessively in the book.
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