American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age by Sasha Abramsky

By Sasha Abramsky

During this dramatic exposé of U.S. penitentiaries and the groups round them, Sasha Abramsky reveals that prisons have dumped their age-old target of rehabilitation, usually for political purposes. the hot “ideal,” unknown to so much american citizens, is a punitive mandate marked by way of a force towards vengeance.

Surveying this kingdom of affairs—life sentences for nonviolent crimes, appalling stipulations, the expansion of non-public prisons, the remedy of juveniles—Abramsky asks: Does the vengeful impulse ennoble our tradition or demean it? What can develop into of people that are quarantined for years in a violent lifestyle? California’s 3 moves legislations typifies the politics that take advantage of the grief of victims’ households and our fears of violent crime. Brilliantly researched and compellingly informed, American Furies indicates that the ethos of “lock ’em up and throw away the key” has huge, immense social bills.

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Additional info for American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment

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I do not remember people talking about it, no,” recalled county commissioner Pamela Snyder. ” In 2004, as the macabre images and reports from Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison hit the headlines, Waynesburg again found itself in an unwelcome spotlight. For it soon emerged that army reservist Charles Graner, the man implicated most directly in coordinating the violence at the cellblock level in Abu Ghraib, was, in his civilian incarnation, a correctional o‰cer at SCI Greene. Like Graner, who served for several years in the Marines in the 1980s and early 1990s, most guards at SCI Greene had previously served in the military, employed by the Department of Corrections as part of a preferential hiring process for veterans that turned Pennsylvania’s new prisons, like the new prisons throughout much of the country, into virtual preserves for retired military personnel.

CHAPTER 1 THE HOLY EXPERIMENT Just to the north of Moundsville stands one of the most secure high-technology prisons in the United States. From the outside, the State Correctional Institution at Greene, or SCI Greene, in the southwestern Pennsylvania coal-mining hamlet of Waynesburg, looks like a quiet place. Pilots who take oƒ from the small airstrip next door could be forgiven for thinking they were flying over a prefab industrial warehouse, albeit one with an awful lot of rolled razor wire on its fences.

The design was remarkable in its simplicity: a circular building centered on a central command tower THE HOLY EXPERIMENT 19 with windows on all sides. Several levels of cells were ranged along the circumference, facing in toward the central tower. Even the door of the tower had windows; for the occupant of this tower, there were literally no blind spots. On top of this, the philosopher began laying on additional details: systems of pipes, so that verbal commands could be transmitted into each and every cell from the central observatory; complex screening systems so that inmates could never see other inmates nor could they see the guards; elaborate chapels that seated each inmate in a miniature prayer cell so that preachers could communicate with their congregants without ever allowing them to see one another.

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