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Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis

3.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1859843031
ISBN-10: 1859843034
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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

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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: #799,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Wylie on 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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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