Each of these chapters separately discuss such topics as misperceptions about who actually winds up in prison, the rise of women and juvenile prisoners, the increase in prison privatization, the experience of prisoners while incarcerated, the use of isolation lockup procedures, and the “three strikes and you’re out” laws. The book includes personal accounts from prisoners to illustrate the brutal aspects of prison life and the intent of the US to create a”prison industrial complex.
” It exposes students for the first time to varying points of view of the correction system. The authors, one of whom served ten years in prison, now a noted criminologist in the field, present the material in a powerful, research-oriented and compassionate manner. The easy accessible style and strong research base makes the book a popular choice for a wide variety of course. (Austin & Irwin, 2000) The research demonstrates that the US has been engaged in an unprecedented imprisonment binge.
Between 1980 and 1998, the number of people imprisoned increased from 329,281 to 1,302,019 – a dramatic rise of 295%. In fact the increase was so great that by 1998, the number of prisoners in the state and federal prisoners exceeded or approximated the resident population of the thirteen states and was larger than all the resident population of the major US cities with the exceptions of Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia, in fact US’s imprisonment binge has also surpassed that of South Africa.
According to the research, data that provided by this book the prison population would likely to mushroom to over 1. 6 million by the end of the decade. In fact, we realize on reading this book that the adult prison population represents no more than one-fifth of the entire correctional industrial complex. There are another 585,000 people in jail, 3. 5 million on probation and 705,000 on paroles (unfortunately, this figure does not count over 100,000 children imprisoned every year).
In 1980, the ratio was 1 out of 91 adults under correctional supervision, based on the data given in the book we can safely assume that one out of every 25 adults in America goes to jail every year. Unfortunately, the correctional authority does not represent a cross-section of the nation’s population, those imprisoned major tend to be “young” African-American and his panic males who are uneducated, without jobs or at best, marginally employed in low-paying jobs. Data from the US Department of Justice show that there are enormous disparities in imprisonment rates by race and ethnicity.
Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans have incarceration rates that are two to six times higher than whites are. Researches found out that almost one of three (32. 2%) African-American in the age group 20 – 29 is in prison, jail, probation or parole on any given day. It is further revealed in the book that whereas 1 of every 10 Hispanic men (12. 3%) in the same age group is either in prison, jail, probation or parole on any given day for the white man, the ratio is significantly lower: 1 in 15 (or 6. 7%).
It also exposes the fact that sixty years ago, less than one-fourth of prison administration was non-white today nearly three-fourth is non-white. The trend for imprisonment for women in this sector is also far greater than in the case of white women. Another major area of concern is increase in the level of women imprisonment. US public policy criminalizes drug-using behavior that results in the ever-increasing rates of imprisonment for women. Researches rightly show that war on drugs has become war on women.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics found out that 80% of their female population has been incarcerated for drug offences New York notorious Rockefeller drug laws account for nearly 91% women’s imprisonment. “Short-sighted legislative” responses to the problems of drugs and crime, instead of a policy of last resort imprisonment has become the first order response for a wide range of women offenders that have been disproportionately swept up in this trend.
According to the authors, “…little has changed as the impact of these policies continues to drive female prison populations while man too has suffered as the US continues its imprisonment binge. ” (Austin & Irwin, 2000) Instead of addressing and redressing the issues of women marginalization due to the patriarchic dominated society, the women are enmeshed in a system of justice that further entraps them. Unfortunately after facing devaluation at the hands of the male-dominated society and being denied a place in the conventional worlds the prison becomes a home for women for whom there is no place else to go.
The problems that lead women to prison-abuse and battering, economic disadvantage, substance abuse, unsupported parenting responsibilities-have become more criminalized as contemporary society ignores the context of these women's lives. Because many of these women are poor, from minority communities and behave in ways outside middle-class sensibilities, prison has become the uniform response to problems created by inequality and gender discrimination.
These issues are best addressed outside the punitive custodial environment but the upward spiral in the number of women in prison represents a serious failure of conventional society and public policy. Women in prison have been damaged by the oppression of patriarchy, economic marginalization and the far-reaching effects of such shortsighted and detrimental policies as the war on drugs and the over-reliance on incarceration.