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Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire Hardcover – March 16, 2010
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Although the American prison system is based (somewhat) on the principle of rehabilitation, it still retains, Perkinson says, powerful elements of one of its original influences: retribution. By way of explanation, he examines the country’s harshest, largest penal system, that of Texas, the state that reigns supreme in the punishment business. (In one city, Huntsville, almost half its population is in prison and another fifth works in jobs related to keeping them there.) Perkinson explores the history of the state and its penal system, showing how retribution, at least as much as rehabilitation, played a key role in the system’s evolution; and, by extension, he sheds light on the evolution of penal systems across the country. The American penal system, he argues, is very much a product of its southern influences (and, as a sure-to-be-controversial corollary to that, the racial imbalance of its prisoners is a kind of backlash against the civil rights movement). A fascinating and often deeply troubling book. --David Pitt
—The New York Times Book Review
—Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and author of When Law Fails
—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History
—James Oliver Horton, author of Landmarks of African American History
—David Oshinsky, author of “Worse Than Slavery”: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice
—Edward Ayers, author of The Promise of the New South
—Ann Beeson, Executive Director, Open Society Institute
—Corey Robin, author of Fear: The History of a Political Idea
—Benjamin Todd Jealous, President, NAACP
Top customer reviews
Brilliant, thought-provoking, shameful and damning in its full scope,
I am a conservative Texan who has spent years visiting prisoners in Texas prisons; have studied Texas prison history and taught courses about it; and have grieved for the plight of many inmates who are victims of an overzealous punishment system. I had long struggled to understand why the system is so harsh and uncaring. Texas Tough filled that void.
Perkinson is a master of the adjective - producing lively and readable text. But he is also extremely thorough. Every fact and quote is well documented and gives a cohesive picture. Read with a magic marker - you will see much you want to use in your re-thinking process. Rather than attempting to dispute his disparaging facts or their selection, focus upon your own answers to two questions of "What have we done to our own humankind?" And, "What can I do to help change it?"