OVERRIDE

Crime and Punishment in America

Elliott Currie

Picador

There are five times as many Americans behind bars today as in 1970. The national incarceration rate in 1997 was twice that in 1985. California's prison system has become the third largest in the world. And despite some limited recent declines in crime rates, we remain by far the most violent industrial society on earth.

Though our massive investment in the prison system has not resulted in enduring public safety, politicians and the media continue to insist that America's unique problem of violence is the result of a lenient society "soft" on criminals; that incarcerating an ever-larger proportion of our population is a "social program that works;" and that all other approaches to crime--from prevention to rehabilitation--have failed. Nationally acclaimed criminologist Elliott Currie dissects these myths in a groundbreaking book that is already changing the terms of the current debate.

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1      ASSESSING THE PRISON EXPERIMENT
 
 
Just as violent crime has become part of the accepted backdrop of life in the United States, so too has the growth of the system we’ve established to contain it. A huge and constantly expanding penal system seems to us like a normal and inevitable feature of modem life. But what we have witnessed in the past quarter century is nothing less than a revolution in our justice system—a transformation unprecedented in our own history, or in that of any other industrial democracy.
I
In 1971 there
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Elliott Currie

  • Elliott Currie is the author of Confronting Crime, hailed as "original and incisive, the only realistic hope in years" (The New York Times), Reckoning, and the coauthor of the classic text Crisis in American Institutions. Currie has taught sociology and criminology at Yale University and the University of California at Berkeley. He has been a consultant to a wide range of organizations, including the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, and currently serves as vice-chair of the Eisenhower Foundation. An international authority on crime and punishment, Currie presently teaches in the Legal Studies Program at the University of California at Berkeley.
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Crime and Punishment in America

Elliott Currie

Pulitzer Prize - Finalist
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Picador

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