The Politics of Imprisonment

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

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The Politics of Imprisonment seeks to document and explain the chronic long-term differences in American crime policy. It argues that the American states responded in radically different ways to rising crime, social upheaval, war, and declining trust in government due to the variation, complexity, and nuances of American democracy. It examines how the democratic process and social trust shape penal sanctioning in the United States. The research shows that higher levels of civic engagement tend to support milder punishments whereas lower levels tend to support more coercive criminal justice policies. The book challenges a taken-for-granted assumption about the democratic process and punishment. It shows that the apparent link between public participation, punitiveness and harsh justice is not only historically contingent but dependent upon specific institutional contexts and patterns of civic engagement, patterns which tend to vary within the US and across liberal democracies. But perhaps more importantly, the research suggests the opposite relationship: increased democratization can support and sustain less coercive penal regimes. By comparing state-level imprisonment variation and state-level democratic traditions, this book highlights the importance of place, locality, and context in a globalizing social more

Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 498.95g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 2 black and white line illustrations
  • 0195370023
  • 9780195370027
  • 2,007,002

About Vanessa Barker

Vanessa Barker is Assistant Professor of Criminology at Florida State more

Review quote

The Politics of Imprisonment offers evidence that increased democratization can support less, not more, coercive penal regimes and counters the orthodoxy that mass imprisonment is an inevitable feature of punishment in the United States. * Yvonne Jewkes. * Given the significant contribution Barker has made to the growing governance literature, scholars would be well served to further explore the constructs that Barker identifies and apply them across other contexts. * Laura A. Gross & Natasha A. Frost, Crime, Law and Social Change *show more

Table of contents

Preface ; 1. The Democratic Process & Imprisonment ; 2. Explaining Penal Regime Variation: Political Structures & Collective Agency ; 3. The Case of California: Neo-populism & Retribution ; 4. Washington State Deliberates: From Fortress Prison to De-escalation ; 5. New York: Elite Pragmatism & Managerialism ; 6. Democratic Governance, Social Trust & Penal Order ; Appendix A: Selected US Imprisonment Rates, 1971-2006show more

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