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Hard Time: Understanding and Reforming the Prison (Wadsworth Studies in Philosophical Criticism) 3rd Edition
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Unlike books by Mauer or Parenti, this book is not about the incarceration binge, the prison industrial complex, etc. Johnson is aware of these issues, but Hard Time is a broader look at imprisonment. The first chapters discuss the history of prison, borrowing from a wide ranging assortment of writing by inmates (and Wardens) to bring to life Johnson's points about institutions in various time periods. He also examines the role of correctional officers, who are imprisoned themselves, and how reforming the prison needs to be done in conjunction with ensuring a guard's job is meaningful work rather than an alienating, high-burnout 'turnkey.' Johnson's reform ideas are influenced by Hans Toch, who has written extensively on violence and human breakdown. Johnson argues for ecological niches where inmates can use the pains of imprisonment to learn to deal with problems without deceit or violence.
I have used this book in an introductory corrections class, and I would recommend it both for that purpose and for an interested reader looking for something comprehensive, balanced, sophisticated and compact.Read more ›