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A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2011
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
on December 21, 2012
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. Simply put, he concluded that year of life lost to drug laws are "three times greater than those lost in the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks."
Finally, Drucker identified that there are solutions to such disaster, giving the example of how the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War helped convert public view of nuclear weapons to a global threat. A Plague of Prisons' is a joint venture that conveys an important message that scientists, scholars and civil rights advocates must work together to show the total impact of mass incarceration in our society.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2013
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
on October 19, 2013
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
on March 22, 2013
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2012
A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America. I work witnin the Department of Correcdtions. This research book interested me and gives reasons for our prison population explodsion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2013
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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on March 31, 2014
Excellent book on rising incarceration in the United States. Epidemiology was an ingenius way to look at the prison problem. I absolutely Love kindle!!!
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on September 5, 2013
An overview of the madness that US imprisonment has been since the eighties. Familiar with the subject since over 15 years, the book tells a story I knew but hurts each time it is expressed so lucidly and backed up by so much data. Dazzling data
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on March 10, 2015
Fascinating cultural and epidemiological study of the impact of our misuse of prisons which has created a new sub-class of citizens without rights and without power. Our Prison Industrial Complex has spread an Epidemic of poverty, the loss of family's young male wage earners, and destroyed the fabric of Af-Am families.
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