Are Prisons Obsolete?

Paperback, 128 pages

English language

Published Sept. 6, 2003 by Seven Stories Press.


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5 stars (8 reviews)

With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Y. Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life: the abolition of the prison. As she quite correctly notes, American life is replete with abolition movements, and when they were engaged in these struggles, their chances of success seemed almost unthinkable. For generations of Americans, the abolition of slavery was sheerest illusion. Similarly,the entrenched system of racial segregation seemed to last forever, and generations lived in the midst of the practice, with few predicting its passage from custom. The brutal, exploitative (dare one say lucrative?) convict-lease system that succeeded formal slavery reaped millions to southern jurisdictions (and untold miseries for tens of thousands of men, and women). Few predicted its passing from the American penal landscape. Davis expertly argues how social movements transformed these social, political and cultural institutions, and made such practices untenable. In Are …

2 editions

Guter Einstieg, mir fehlt nur die Praxis ;)

4 stars

War für mich ein guter Einstieg in die Prison-Abolishment-Bewegung. Leider fehlte das, nach dem ich gerade in Büchern dieses Genres suche, nämlich mehr praktische Beispiele. Aber die gibt dann vielleicht das nächste Buch her.

Was mir jedenfalls gefiel: Wie zugänglich und mit Beispielen Davis häufig schreibt. Was leider etwas anstrengte: Die ständigen Wiederholungen, obwohl das Buch an sich ja eh schon sehr kurz ist. Aber vielleicht war das so wie bei Marx: 100x das gleiche in leicht anderen Worten schreiben, damit es ankommt?

Review of 'Are Prisons Obsolete?' on 'GoodReads'

5 stars

An important foundational text for understanding the case against the carceral "justice" system. Historical context for the development of imprisonment as the primary response to undesired behavior (as defined by the state) informs Davis's analysis of the popularization of the crime/punishment dichotomy in an effort to inure the population to, or at least publicly justify the criminalization of marginalized communities as the engine for increasing profits in an ever-expanding number of private sector businesses that make up the prison industrial complex. The final chapter provides proposals for decarceration and decriminalizing in the pursuit of abolition.

Review of 'Are Prisons Obsolete?' on Goodreads

3 stars

Opens by asking why most of us feel our rights and liberties are improved by the presence of the carceral loss of the same by so many within our communities. Best read as the background starting point for later The New Jim Crow etc, proposes considering replacing much of what we expect from prison to the educational, welfare, mental services etc that insufficiently are being substituted by police and prison.

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  • Penology & punishment
  • Penology
  • Prison Systems
  • Social Science
  • Politics / Current Events
  • Sociology
  • USA
  • Political Freedom & Security - Law Enforcement
  • History / United States / 20th Century
  • Alternatives to imprisonment
  • Criminals
  • Prisons
  • Rehabilitation
  • United States