The Politics of Imprisonment: How the Democratic Process Shapes the Way America Punishes Offenders by Vanessa Barker

The Politics of Imprisonment: How the Democratic Process Shapes the Way America Punishes Offenders

byVanessa Barker

Hardcover | September 9, 2009

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The attention devoted to the unprecedented levels of imprisonment in the United States obscure an obvious but understudied aspect of criminal justice: there is no consistent punishment policy across the U.S. It is up to individual states to administer their criminal justice systems, and thedifferences among them are vast. For example, while some states enforce mandatory minimum sentencing, some even implementing harsh and degrading practices, others rely on community sanctions. What accounts for these differences? The Politics of Imprisonment seeks to document and explain variation in American penal sanctioning, drawing out the larger lessons for America's overreliance on imprisonment. Grounding her study in a comparison of how California, Washington, and New York each developed distinctive penal regimes inthe late 1960s and early 1970s--a critical period in the history of crime control policy and a time of unsettling social change--Vanessa Barker concretely demonstrates that subtle but crucial differences in political institutions, democratic traditions, and social trust shape the way American statespunish offenders. Barker argues that the apparent link between public participation, punitiveness, and harsh justice is not universal but dependent upon the varying institutional contexts and patterns of civic engagement within the U.S. and across liberal democracies.A bracing examination of the relationship between punishment and democracy, The Politics of Imprisonment not only suggests that increased public participation in the political process can support and sustain less coercive penal regimes, but also warns that it is precisely a lack of civic engagementthat may underpin mass incarceration in the United States.

About The Author

Vanessa Barker is Assistant Professor of Criminology at Florida State University.
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Title:The Politics of Imprisonment: How the Democratic Process Shapes the Way America Punishes OffendersFormat:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 6.1 × 9.29 × 0.98 inPublished:September 9, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195370023

ISBN - 13:9780195370027

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Table of Contents

Preface1. The Democratic Process and Imprisonment2. Explaining Penal Regime Variation: Political Structures and Collective Agency3. The Case of California: Neo-populism and Retribution4. Washington State Deliberates: From Fortress Prison to De-escalation5. New York: Elite Pragmatism and Managerialism6. Democratic Governance, Social Trust and Penal OrderAppendix A: Selected US Imprisonment Rates, 1971-2006