Forms of Constraint

Forms of Constraint : A History of Prison Architecture

3.9 (10 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$34.94

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


From musty medieval dungeons to modern electronically surveyed and controlled concrete cellblocks, prison architecture reveals much about how a society sees fit to control and contain those who transgress its boundaries. "Forms of Constraint" is the first general volume to consider how prison design has evolved over the centuries, how it has taken shape in various corners of the globe, and how it reflects the society that oversees it. Rigorously documented and generously illustrated, "Forms of Constraint" surveys prison architecture from earliest times to the present. Embedding his discussion of architectural detail in a history of social ideas about prisoners and imprisonment, criminologist Norman Johnston considers the architectural design and features of prisons in light of the purposes they were meant to serve. He demonstrates how cycles of humane concern and reform efforts alternate and sometimes coexist with periods of impatience with the criminal justice process and a desire to make imprisonment rigorous and unpleasant. Johnston describes the preferred types of prison layout in various eras and locations.
He assesses the success or failure of building elements in fulfilling goals such as prisoner isolation, segregation by gender or by severity of crime, adequate hygiene, rehabilitative activities ranging from religious instruction to vocational training, and surveillance of prisoners and guards. As goals and the consequent demands on the physical structure changed, new templates for the ideal prison emerged. Johnston traces the gradual rise of prison design as an architectural speciality and profiles the central early figures and organizations devoted to the field, including William Blackburn, the first architect to specialize in prison design; John Haviland, architect of the influential Pennsylvania prison style; and Jeremy and Samuel Bentham, who conceived the much-discussed but never built Panopticon. He describes changes in prison design as architecture and penal philosophy leadership passed from one country to another. He also provides broad coverage of penal methods and prison architecture around the world, from Rio to Beijing and from Oslo to St. Petersburg.
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 216 pages
  • 222.3 x 289.1 x 25.1mm | 1,040.07g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252025571
  • 9780252025570

Review quote

"An excellent survey of prison structures around the world, impressive in its geographic and historical breadth." -- Paul Eisenhauer, The Public Historian "A very informative reference book that provides an orientation and understanding for prison structures throughout history... Johnston provides the reader with vivid images and colorful descriptions of prison structures... Provides glimpses not only into the architectural styles of the era but also into the sociopolitical context in which these prisons developed." -- Gaylene S. Armstrong, Criminal Justice Review "[An] intelligently written study in which Johnston effectively weaves the history of the prison with the evolution of prison architecture... Richly documented with over 100 photographs and sketches, [this volume] enables the reader to easily envision the numerous architectural plans referred to in the text. A glossary, comprehensive index, and bibliography are valuable supplemental resources that complement the engaging narrative." -- John C. McWilliams, The Prison Journal ADVANCE PRAISE "Norman Johnston knows more about the history of prisons and prison architecture than anyone in the world. Forms of Constraint is a superb piece of scholarship, fascinating for laypersons and extraordinarily functional for architects and historians of penology. There is nothing like it anywhere else." -- Marvin E. Wolfgang, author of Collective Violence "Forms of Constraint is a landmark volume and will become a standard reference work on its topic. No other book on prisons comes close to it in the range of its coverage of time, geography, and institutions." -- Daniel Glaser, author of Handbook of Criminology "A rarity in offering a valuable panorama of the subject in one scholarly volume, from very early makeshift pits and dungeons, to the more community based prisons of today... With his background in sociology and anthropology, Johnston is adept at relating punitive strategies and goals to prisons design in each period... This book is an excellent introduction for those who seek one single reliable, well-researched and well-illustrated volume. It is also a fascinating treasure-trove for those more professionally involved with the history of prisons, their development, and their future." -- Leslie Fairweather, The Architectural Review
show more

Rating details

10 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 30% (3)
4 30% (3)
3 40% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X