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Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

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A crucial indictment of widely embraced “alternatives to incarceration” that exposes how many of these new approaches actually widen the net of punishment and surveillance. “But what does it mean—really—to celebrate reforms that convert your home into your prison?” —Michelle Alexander, from the foreword Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. A crucial indictment of widely embraced “alternatives to incarceration” that exposes how many of these new approaches actually widen the net of punishment and surveillance. “But what does it mean—really—to celebrate reforms that convert your home into your prison?” —Michelle Alexander, from the foreword Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. Mandated psychiatric treatment. Data-driven surveillance. Extended probation. These are some of the key alternatives held up as cost-effective substitutes for jails and prisons. But many of these so-called reforms actually widen the net, weaving in new strands of punishment and control, and bringing new populations, who would not otherwise have been subject to imprisonment, under physical control by the state. As mainstream public opinion has begun to turn against mass incarceration, political figures on both sides of the spectrum are pushing for reform. But—though they’re promoted as steps to confront high rates of imprisonment—many of these measures are transforming our homes and communities into prisons instead. In Prison by Any Other Name, activist journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal the way the kinder, gentler narrative of reform can obscure agendas of social control and challenge us to question the ways we replicate the status quo when pursuing change. A foreword by Michelle Alexander situates the book in the context of criminal justice reform conversations. Finally, the book offers a bolder vision for truly alternative justice practices.


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A crucial indictment of widely embraced “alternatives to incarceration” that exposes how many of these new approaches actually widen the net of punishment and surveillance. “But what does it mean—really—to celebrate reforms that convert your home into your prison?” —Michelle Alexander, from the foreword Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. A crucial indictment of widely embraced “alternatives to incarceration” that exposes how many of these new approaches actually widen the net of punishment and surveillance. “But what does it mean—really—to celebrate reforms that convert your home into your prison?” —Michelle Alexander, from the foreword Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. Mandated psychiatric treatment. Data-driven surveillance. Extended probation. These are some of the key alternatives held up as cost-effective substitutes for jails and prisons. But many of these so-called reforms actually widen the net, weaving in new strands of punishment and control, and bringing new populations, who would not otherwise have been subject to imprisonment, under physical control by the state. As mainstream public opinion has begun to turn against mass incarceration, political figures on both sides of the spectrum are pushing for reform. But—though they’re promoted as steps to confront high rates of imprisonment—many of these measures are transforming our homes and communities into prisons instead. In Prison by Any Other Name, activist journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal the way the kinder, gentler narrative of reform can obscure agendas of social control and challenge us to question the ways we replicate the status quo when pursuing change. A foreword by Michelle Alexander situates the book in the context of criminal justice reform conversations. Finally, the book offers a bolder vision for truly alternative justice practices.

30 review for Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leila

    Truly excellent, well written, and comprehensive overview of the physical and invisible structures that make up the modern prison nation, and the dangers of many reforms that further entrench these institutions in our society. The book uses personal stories and data to make a powerful case against prisons and policing, including the ways it shows up in schools, mental health facilities, and public spaces. When reading the chapter on the foster system, something that came up for me is that abolit Truly excellent, well written, and comprehensive overview of the physical and invisible structures that make up the modern prison nation, and the dangers of many reforms that further entrench these institutions in our society. The book uses personal stories and data to make a powerful case against prisons and policing, including the ways it shows up in schools, mental health facilities, and public spaces. When reading the chapter on the foster system, something that came up for me is that abolitionist arguments about the violence of the foster system tend to gloss over the realities of child abuse in families, and so I would have liked to see that issue tackled head-on (e.g. referring to abuse allegations as "unsubstantiated" is complicated because, on one hand, Black mothers *are* targeted and surveilled by racist neighbors who make false reports and by a system that polices and criminalizes poverty, and also: child abuse/child sexual abuse is real and not always able to be easily substantiated). The other note I have is that the book briefly references Men Can Stop Rape, which is an organization that uses a very gender essentialist, trans exclusionary and sex worker exclusionary lens to talk about masculinity, through a prohibitively expensive program. The Rethink Masculinity program, also based in Washington, DC, is an accessible and trans inclusive program created by Collective Action for Safe Spaces, the DC Rape Crisis Center, and ReThink as an alternative for masculine people to learn to build healthier relationships and healthier expressions of masculinity. I'd love to see more groups using models for programs around masculinity that are informed by trans folks and sex workers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    K

    Very good, more later.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alan Mills

    I just this minute out this down. I am blown away! I don’t agree with all the points they make (that would be boring), but every page makes you think—and the whole thing is really well written, very approachable, not at all “academic.” The book can be broken down into three parts: the introduction, which generally reviews the reasons the current prison system is awful; the core of the book which examines various parts of the system which are not obviously “prisons” to show how they are closely in I just this minute out this down. I am blown away! I don’t agree with all the points they make (that would be boring), but every page makes you think—and the whole thing is really well written, very approachable, not at all “academic.” The book can be broken down into three parts: the introduction, which generally reviews the reasons the current prison system is awful; the core of the book which examines various parts of the system which are not obviously “prisons” to show how they are closely interrelated (home detention, foster care, mental health treatment, schools, for example). The. Finally an examination of what a world without prison might look like, and some concrete steps people are and could take to get there. While this book was started years ago, its publication could not be more timely. After simmering in leftist circles for years, prison abolition has joined defunding the police as a central topic of public conversation in the last month. If you had asked me even five years ago if I thought the question of abolition would be talked about by BOTH parties’ presidential nominees this year, I would have laughed you out of the room. How wrong I would have been. If you are new to the concept of prison abolition, this is the second book I would read (after Angela Davis’ Are Prisons Obsolete?). If you have worked in this issue for a while, read this—it will challenge you to think bigger! Read it. Discuss it. Act!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Libertie

    When I read "Prison By Any Other Name" last July, I knew that it was one of the most important books of 2020. In fact, if you read only one work of nonfiction this year, please consider this brilliant exploration of "alternatives" to policing and incarceration! It's a meticulously researched exploration of popular reforms that centers the stories of real people to craft a highly readable but utterly devastating critique. Importantly, it also offers transformative, community-based solutions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jade

    Perfectly timed, Prison By Any Other Name is an in-depth review of all forms of incarceration in the US, and why the system needs to be completely overhauled, by focusing on harmful reforms. The authors provide important information on how certain reforms over the years are really only “reforms” in name, and cause possibly even more damage than regular behind-bars-prison (electronic monitoring for example, supposedly a more “gentle” form of incarceration, is actually more invasive and is used in Perfectly timed, Prison By Any Other Name is an in-depth review of all forms of incarceration in the US, and why the system needs to be completely overhauled, by focusing on harmful reforms. The authors provide important information on how certain reforms over the years are really only “reforms” in name, and cause possibly even more damage than regular behind-bars-prison (electronic monitoring for example, supposedly a more “gentle” form of incarceration, is actually more invasive and is used in greater numbers, leading to more harm and pain in entire families and communities). Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law use real life examples of people who have been caught up in the system in different ways to illustrate their points, and this really helps the seriousness of the issues hit home. These individual stories are extremely important as they provide a more accurate overview of how the current system targets Black and Brown people, is extremely biased and unfair, pushing poor communities further into poverty, criminalizing immigrants and refugees, punishing children whose brains are not fully developed, etc. Nothing about our current system and the way it is ingrained into our society promotes rehabilitation, care, or rebuilding. Personal narratives show the true damage that this system causes, and how that damage becomes part of the overall generational trauma that hurts families and communities. The authors did a great job of covering many areas: drug courts and mandated treatment, mental health convictions, electronic monitoring, foster care and family incarceration, the sex offender registry, neighborhood/community policing, amongst others. Illustrating how each aspect, even if it is aimed at “helping”, usually works to drag people into a system that affects not only themselves but everyone around them, and is very difficult to get out of. I personally really appreciated the chapter on the issues with the sex offender registry, as it gave me more insight into how it is definitely not working in the way that most people assume it does, and how the registry, and all of the restrictions imposed on those on the registry are much more harmful than we think. In the last section of the book the authors provide us with different solutions that would help abolish the police nation that the US currently is. Unlike bipartisan “reforms” that have up until now just expanded incarceration, these solutions could provide real change: but it is up to us to demand these changes, and to make the community efforts needed to work towards the abolition of prisons, whether they are in institutions or in our own homes and schools. A must read, especially if you are interested in learning more about incarceration and why people are demanding the abolition of the police state and mass incarceration. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A much-needed analysis of how many efforts at creative alternatives to incarceration wind up reinforcing incarceration in other forms. I gave it five stars because I think it should be required reading for anyone involved in activism around prisons and police right now. It also has a good last chapter that provides some great examples of actual abolitionist efforts as transformative justice.

  7. 5 out of 5

    hima ☾

    wow!!! literally made my stomach turn a few times. must-read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This was a markedly uncomfortable read that I will be thinking about for some time. I’ve already asked two friends to read it because I want to be able to discuss its contents in more depth. In order to review this, I need to comment on why I even noticed it. I rarely choose to read non-fiction, because I like my reading time to be enjoyable, an escape. Prior to this year, this title would barely have registered with me. If you’d asked me what I knew about abolitionism, I’d think of the graffiti This was a markedly uncomfortable read that I will be thinking about for some time. I’ve already asked two friends to read it because I want to be able to discuss its contents in more depth. In order to review this, I need to comment on why I even noticed it. I rarely choose to read non-fiction, because I like my reading time to be enjoyable, an escape. Prior to this year, this title would barely have registered with me. If you’d asked me what I knew about abolitionism, I’d think of the graffiti and posters in the Inner West that say “kill your landlord and keep your rent money”. I’d say they were all extreme Marxists. I’d be happy to have a conversation about aspects of socialism that I do find attractive. I would definitely not question our need for police, courts, prison. When this year’s Black Lives Matter protests started, I was quite taken aback by calls to abolish police and prisons. Abolish racism, definitely. But I’d say improve police training, hold violent police more accountable. I’ll be honest, the idea of abolishing the police scared me. I’ll be even more honest: it still does. I can’t say this book has completely changed my mind. However, this book is well written and thought provoking, and has left me feeling like it’s not as straightforward as I thought it was. This book is surprisingly readable. It taught me a lot about the “prison industrial complex” in the United States, which is to the best of my knowledge quite different to here in Australia. It made me reflect on what it might be like not to trust police instinctively. Of course, I expect “good” and “bad” people everywhere, and know that some police would abuse their powers. But as a white, middle class, educated, working woman in Australia, I do indeed naturally see police as, for the most part, on my side. I’ve also never questioned the need for prisons. Sure, I think there are people in them who don’t deserve it, but no, it has never occurred to me to question whether or not some people need to be locked away. This book calls on statistics about recidivism to suggest that prison is not preventing various crimes, and therefore is not serving any purpose except pure punishment. It also points out that social inequities lead to certain people being more likely to end up in the system thus showing how it can be perpetuating racism, classism and other prejudices. As a healthcare worker, the most difficult part of this book for me was reading about other “institutions” like child services, foster care, substance use and mental health services. I wouldn’t have said we’ve got all this right. I know the system has problems. But it’s a hard sell to suggest we should be without these systems entirely. I’m glad I read this book. As I mentioned, I will be thinking about it and talking about it for some time to come, as I work out exactly where I stand. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an ARC in return for my honest opinion.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ed F

    Big and wide reaching extension of the concept of Mass Incarceration in the USA. On many levels this is not an "easy" read (ie it is uncomfortable and jarring) but once solutions are expressed, the picture becomes a lot clearer and the preceding ideas make a lot more sense.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Benja

    this book is really good and will immediately move to the top of my list of abolitionist recs. great reminder of prisons vs. PIC vs. prison nation...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

    Thorough and beautifully written look at the many ways in which prisons (whether we call them that or not) are taking over our lives. Must read for anyone who is asking, "but if not police, what?"

  12. 4 out of 5

    Liana

    I'm being completely serious - if you're going to read any book coming out this summer, make it this one. It is an incredible feat of journalism and research, one that highlights and explores many aspects of the justice and prison system in America. I seriously cannot recommend this enough. Schenwar and Law explore the different means of policing and surveillance in the US: probation, jail, house arrest, mandatory treatment etc. Not only do they approach their topic from nearly all possible an I'm being completely serious - if you're going to read any book coming out this summer, make it this one. It is an incredible feat of journalism and research, one that highlights and explores many aspects of the justice and prison system in America. I seriously cannot recommend this enough. Schenwar and Law explore the different means of policing and surveillance in the US: probation, jail, house arrest, mandatory treatment etc. Not only do they approach their topic from nearly all possible angles, but their work is marked by footnotes and further bibliography and resources, so you're fully able to find further readings, should you wish to do so. They make specific mentions of cases and people; instead of providing their audience with generic statements, they use cases that prove their point: the inefficiency and inherent cruelty of the system. They also highlight initiatives and activist groups in the US, many of which I was not familiar with, so if you are looking for ways to help, this book could, once again, guide you towards the right direction. Despite their work being relatively short, they manage to cover a variety of topic and tackle plenty of important issues, like drug addiction and recovery, instances of disproportionate and often unfair psychological diagnosis, the role of the 13th amendment within the prison system, even cases of sex offenders and their living conditions after their convictions. They treat all issues with a humanity, love, and kindness that can only result from years studying the justice system and being appalled by its state. It is a brilliant piece of work, very relevant to the current socio-political climate, building upon the works of pioneering Black activists, like Angela Davis or Assata Shakur. Because of the book's current significance, I thought I might include some book/movie recommendations and links I found useful in expanding my understanding of the current situation as well as the history of racism and the prison system in America. Books: The Hate U Give Are Prisons Obsolete? Movies: The Hate U Give Blindspotting 13th When They See Us BLM's #DefundThePolice: https://blacklivesmatter.com/defundth... ** An ARC was provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Eye Opening Yet Flawed. From a standard sociological talking point side, this book is eye opening yet also perfectly in-line (almost within perfect lock-step, in fact) with current sociological understanding - or at least my own understanding of current sociological understanding. (And this, from a guy that *long ago* presented at a sociological conference as a college freshman - just to establish that I do in fact have a *modicum* of academic understanding here. ;) ) In the forward, Michelle Al Eye Opening Yet Flawed. From a standard sociological talking point side, this book is eye opening yet also perfectly in-line (almost within perfect lock-step, in fact) with current sociological understanding - or at least my own understanding of current sociological understanding. (And this, from a guy that *long ago* presented at a sociological conference as a college freshman - just to establish that I do in fact have a *modicum* of academic understanding here. ;) ) In the forward, Michelle Alexander shows that despite the years, her own blinders and biases are still perfectly in place - but also sets the overall tone for the book. In short, this does for government controls outside the actual mass incarceration system what Alexander's The New Jim Crow did for the mass incarceration system and what Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop did for the actual history of police militarization and brutality in the US. Indeed, ultimately this is a book that belongs in the same libraries and conversations as those two magnum opuses as a definitive text on the issue that every single person in America needs to read. Yes, it is *that* powerful, even for someone who has read both of the aforementioned books, who has been an activist for quite some time, and know knows more about these issues than many, perhaps most, people currently talking about them in media (either professional or social). Its critical flaws are similar to Alexanders' own: it has a near laser focus on race as the root cause. Where this book gains the extra star above Alexander's book is that key word "near". Schenwar and Law do a commendable job of listing other leading causes of these issues - chiefly, being poor no matter the color of your skin - even while most often listing race as the most common cause. At that point, I'm more willing to call six of one/ half a dozen of the other, it is so well balanced here. But arguably the biggest flaw of the book is that even while constantly preaching about the perils of government control systems, it still manages to advocate for *more*... government control systems, simply targeting other people. Even as it preaches community and alternatives to police, prison, and the various systems described in the book, it still ultimately demands ever more government programs rather than the true community Schenwar and Law claim to want. Rather than praising Anarchy and demanding a complete overthrow of the very government systems that cause the very problems they so accurately describe, they ultimately choose to love Big Brother even while asking him to be a little bit nicer. And just as this ending is the ultimate tragedy of Orwell's 1984, so too it is the ultimate tragedy of this otherwise stupendous polemic. Recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    J Earl

    Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reform by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law is a well researched and presented account of how many, if not all, popular reforms ultimately cause more harm than good. Through analyzing the laws and reforms, their practical applications, and both statistical and anecdotal research, the authors demonstrate that the popular reforms proposed and thus far implemented serve to broaden, not shrink, those under carceral control. In other words, w Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reform by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law is a well researched and presented account of how many, if not all, popular reforms ultimately cause more harm than good. Through analyzing the laws and reforms, their practical applications, and both statistical and anecdotal research, the authors demonstrate that the popular reforms proposed and thus far implemented serve to broaden, not shrink, those under carceral control. In other words, what Foucault had referred to as the carceral archipelago has indeed come to pass and is only being strengthened by these well-intentioned reforms. This is not limited to any part of the political spectrum. While right wing plans make few apologies for targeting, whether explicitly or implicitly, people of color and poor people, left wing and bipartisan plans are equally counterproductive. The examples throughout the book put real faces to the inane policies that have been enacted. The damage done to not only those deemed criminals but to their families and future generations is made clear to any reader. Even if you aren't comfortable with the idea of abolition you need to read and understand that these "humane" forms of control are not beneficial to either the "criminal" or society. What is needed as expressed by Schenwar and Law is a more just and equitable society. Making changes to the system that don't change the overall structure just makes the system larger and more pervasive. Making the government more about social welfare and less about punishment and control is, at the core, prison reform. Increasing the cooperation and communication between various movements is essential to making progress. But individuals are also key, opening communication between individuals would begin to make where we live more like communities, not just similar people living in proximity. Just ignore anarchists who pretend to be sociologically informed but seem to think that simply abolishing everything immediately is a solution. Even most anarchists who truly want to work toward that know that total immediate anarchy is unworkable and irrational and that steps in that direction are the way to both shape society without creating chaos. I am not an anarchist and am comfortable with the idea of a functioning government that is more concerned with the social welfare of all rather than the economic and financial gluttony of the very few. And that is currently what we have. I highly recommend this to anyone even remotely curious about prison reform and/or what abolition might look like. This does not answer every pragmatic question but does lay a very solid foundation for why such change is needed. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Linds

    While I don't agree with all of the points in this book, it's clear that restrictions have become increasingly punitive. The USA has become a carceral nation. The prison industrial complex is racist at every level. It unfairly targets and punishes non-white individuals in myriad ways. (Highly recommend reading Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow). Foster Care, community policing, probation, the school-to-prison pipeline, "rescue operations" for sex workers, drug/alcohol treatment, and more are While I don't agree with all of the points in this book, it's clear that restrictions have become increasingly punitive. The USA has become a carceral nation. The prison industrial complex is racist at every level. It unfairly targets and punishes non-white individuals in myriad ways. (Highly recommend reading Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow). Foster Care, community policing, probation, the school-to-prison pipeline, "rescue operations" for sex workers, drug/alcohol treatment, and more are inherently flawed and biased. Then when we turn to predictive data ("predictive policing"), we must remember that all the data is skewed based on whom the cops have been focusing on (hint: black and brown people). Whether an individual can be on probation or parole should not be determined by their personal wealth, but all too often this is the case. Examples of probation fees mentioned in the book: - Recurring probation fee (in most states) - Electronic monitoring fee - Drug testing fee - Court-ordeted classes fee (safe driving, parenting, anger management, etc) All of these extra expenses when people on probation often can't get work and are struggling financially. And if they can't pay all the fees, then back to prison they go. What I disagree with in this book are the ideas that pedophiles and rapists shouldn't be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Perpetrators of sexual violence are already less likely to go to prison than other criminals. The authors emphasize that going to prison doesn't rehabilitate rapists, which is true. But rapists being in jail does protect the larger community. The book doesn't seem to take into account the overwhelming odds that rapists will even be charged, arrested, and sentenced to jail in the first place. Furthermore, reporting statistics on sexual assaults are so incomplete that I feel it's unwise to draw conclusions about recidivism rates from those numbers. After all, the majority of sexual assaults aren't even reported to police. Department of Justice data claims that only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. The authors of this book are quick to condemn using biased or incomplete data in predictive policing but (in my view) don't apply that same perspective to sexual assault statistics. Here is a quote that spike to me: "The prison nation often twists words to mean their opposite - "rehabilitation" becomes endless punishment, "corrections" becomes the maintenance of a destructive cycle. The current crop of alternatives to incarceration attempts to translate the word "community" as its opposite: isolation and confinement. It's crucial to push back against this linguistic manipulation - both in the culture and in our own minds."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katy Campbell

    4.5 Stars. I've been doing extensive anti-racist readings with a focus on police abolition, but I hadn't read much about prison abolition, something that, though "abolish the police" has been the hot catch phrase, not enough people are talking about. Prison abolition goes hand in hand with the police-less world we are dreaming up for ourselves. Prison by Any Other Name gives us an incredible look at why prisons, in all their forms, must be abolished, and leaves us with hope for the future we can 4.5 Stars. I've been doing extensive anti-racist readings with a focus on police abolition, but I hadn't read much about prison abolition, something that, though "abolish the police" has been the hot catch phrase, not enough people are talking about. Prison abolition goes hand in hand with the police-less world we are dreaming up for ourselves. Prison by Any Other Name gives us an incredible look at why prisons, in all their forms, must be abolished, and leaves us with hope for the future we can build and are already building. The more research I do, however, the more that seems to need a good overturning. It's challenging. We have been taught to expect retribution for when we've been wronged: we tell on our siblings when they hurt us, expecting the satisfaction of watching them get punished; we are expected to tell on bullies, knowing that they'll have to sit in detention while we have the satisfaction of enjoying recess; we're taught to report our abusers, excited at the prospect that a piece of their life will be stolen in payment for the parts of ourselves that they've stolen. But what if that's all wrong? What if instead of this punitive mindset, we re-calibrated our minds and hearts to that of restorative and transformative justice, fighting for the rights and humanity of the person who hurt us? It's challenging. The authors dive into what it looks like to extend this grace not only towards those with minor infractions, but those who are violent. It will completely change the way you look at yourself, your own capacity for forgiveness, your neighbors, your community. It will encourage you to look at prisons with a more critical eye, to see that even the so called "alternatives to prison" are just prison dressed up in lace. The world they're dreaming up, the world that grassroots movements they cite are fighting for, is the world I want to live in. But I have to ask...will it work if not everyone is onboard? How can transformative justice work if the man who sexually abused me doesn't think he did anything wrong, and doesn't think he needs to be transformed? How can I engage my community when my community simply does not want to be engaged, when my neighbors want nothing more than to left alone? Read this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara Broad

    "Prison by Any Other Name" by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law, with a foreward by Michelle Alexander, is a nonfiction work about all the ways that Americans are held in a carceral state outside of prison walls. This boundary-pushing book expanded my knowledge of "e-carceration," which I first learned about in Alexander's 2018 NYTimes article, "The Newest Jim Crow." It also provided me with an extensive education about the severely negative impacts of forced drug treatment, drug courts, school pol "Prison by Any Other Name" by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law, with a foreward by Michelle Alexander, is a nonfiction work about all the ways that Americans are held in a carceral state outside of prison walls. This boundary-pushing book expanded my knowledge of "e-carceration," which I first learned about in Alexander's 2018 NYTimes article, "The Newest Jim Crow." It also provided me with an extensive education about the severely negative impacts of forced drug treatment, drug courts, school police, and police surveillance as a whole, among other topics. This book shines the light right in your eyes about how we need to replace our endless methods of incarcerating people, namely black, brown, Indigenous, and low-income people, with the tools to nourish their bodies and minds to care for themselves and their families, and to be productive and contributing members of their communities. I'm hoping everyone interested in learning more about dismantling the United Carceral States of America reads this book and that it finds a place on the many anti-racist reading lists being circulated today.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    You never really stop and think about all the ways in which the courts, police, criminal justice system as a whole target and supervise a population. This book is an eye opener in the myriad of ways in which the police state creeps into our lives. As a former probation officer, I can agree with just about everything in the book. From the tough crack down on minorities, to the mandated treatment, I have seen it play out in front of my eyes. I really enjoyed the conclusion on what may be possible w You never really stop and think about all the ways in which the courts, police, criminal justice system as a whole target and supervise a population. This book is an eye opener in the myriad of ways in which the police state creeps into our lives. As a former probation officer, I can agree with just about everything in the book. From the tough crack down on minorities, to the mandated treatment, I have seen it play out in front of my eyes. I really enjoyed the conclusion on what may be possible without a police state. And let me be clear, the authors are NOT advocating for a total removal of prisons, just a different way in which we find ourselves entangled in the criminal justice system. The one part I disagreed with is, is the mandated treatment. I think that some people need treatment to be mandated. They don't necessarily want it, but they may learn from it. Every hint of knowledge is and should be encouraged. Overall a very thought provoking book. I received an ARC from Netgalley and the publishers for this honest review. THank you.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I started out already convinced there are too many people , especially black people, in prison. I was surprised at the myriad other ways confinement, surveillance , and control were exerted. The argument is mostly made through case studies, which makes for easy reading. It also makes me wonder how typical the experiences. And wonder to what extent it matters if they weren’t. There is some reference to data from studies to bolster support. There is definitely enough to make me question the status I started out already convinced there are too many people , especially black people, in prison. I was surprised at the myriad other ways confinement, surveillance , and control were exerted. The argument is mostly made through case studies, which makes for easy reading. It also makes me wonder how typical the experiences. And wonder to what extent it matters if they weren’t. There is some reference to data from studies to bolster support. There is definitely enough to make me question the status quo and “obvious” alternatives to prison along with police in schools and child protective service. The final chapter presents new directions. At first they felt utopian and too general. But there were many and there began to be more detail. And important caveats: there is no single plan. Each situation will be different. There will be mistakes, learn from them. Start gradually. It began to look possible.

  20. 5 out of 5

    César Cuauhtémoc

    This is an illuminating book about the pitfalls of prison reforms. In the unabashed service of abolishing prisons, Maya Schenwar and Victoria Lam focus on the punitive effects of multiple systems of control. Prominent abolitionist writers, the authors capture the reader with powerful anecdotes tucked into broader analyses of popular alternatives to confinement--from probation to electronic monitoring. These options, Schenwar and Lam reveal, are often nothing more than profit-maximizing alternati This is an illuminating book about the pitfalls of prison reforms. In the unabashed service of abolishing prisons, Maya Schenwar and Victoria Lam focus on the punitive effects of multiple systems of control. Prominent abolitionist writers, the authors capture the reader with powerful anecdotes tucked into broader analyses of popular alternatives to confinement--from probation to electronic monitoring. These options, Schenwar and Lam reveal, are often nothing more than profit-maximizing alternative pathways to expanding law enforcement's reach into the lives of marginalized people. With increased government surveillance come more opportunities for landing on law enforcement's radar. The perverse effect of many common reform tactics, the authors show, is that these so-called alternatives are often nothing more than alternatives to more policing and incarceration. This book is worth reading alongside Angela Davis's "Are Prisons Obsolete."

  21. 5 out of 5

    mango_vodka

    The topic of Prison by Any Other Name is fascinating and incredibly pertinent to overdue discussions. I wonder if I was confused about what the focus was, because it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I was hoping to read about some of the more futuristic methods of criminal justice (such as AI tracking and predictive crime mapping) and how these are still oppressive. I learned some interesting facts and perspectives, particularly about mental health disparities and electronic monitoring, that I The topic of Prison by Any Other Name is fascinating and incredibly pertinent to overdue discussions. I wonder if I was confused about what the focus was, because it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I was hoping to read about some of the more futuristic methods of criminal justice (such as AI tracking and predictive crime mapping) and how these are still oppressive. I learned some interesting facts and perspectives, particularly about mental health disparities and electronic monitoring, that I will take with me. Overall, I think the book could benefit from a bit more conciseness, as well as anticipation and deconstruction of counter-arguments earlier in the book. I recommend it to those looking for an impactful and thought-provoking nonfiction book. Note: I received a free ebook copy of Prison by Any Other Name from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Abby Suzanne

    My favorite part of Prison by Any Other Name by Maya Schenwar was its emphasis on how the CJ system as a whole needs reform. I feel like discourse these days emphasizes law enforcement and the problems with policing, but in reality, policing doesn't work in isolation and the entire system needs restructuring. The entire system, and society more broadly, is structured to monitor and control some citizens, predominantly citizens of color. When we focus on policing, we simplify a more complex probl My favorite part of Prison by Any Other Name by Maya Schenwar was its emphasis on how the CJ system as a whole needs reform. I feel like discourse these days emphasizes law enforcement and the problems with policing, but in reality, policing doesn't work in isolation and the entire system needs restructuring. The entire system, and society more broadly, is structured to monitor and control some citizens, predominantly citizens of color. When we focus on policing, we simplify a more complex problem, looking for a sort of silver bullet approach to reforming broader societal issues. I appreciated the way Prison by Any Other Name did not shy away from the complexity of the CJ system and instead tried to address the ways in which each component of the system works together to control and monitor individuals.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    This felt like a university thesis to me, I don't want to say it's badly written but it is. I could therefore not finish this book. Nor did I feel any sympathy or interest in the story/stories. I think this book would interest someone living in the US/ interested in the American prison system more. I do believe the system could benefit from a few changes as it hasn't been all sane and it's probably good that they've shed some light on it. But for me this felt like a waste.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Serge

    Uneven apology for prison abolition that makes a more convincing case against electronic monitoring than for the “slow build” community mechanisms for addressing trauma. Communities that currently lack these mechanisms may not be in a position to imagine a wider stronger social net to compete or replace the criminal justice dragnet. Civic virtue must be restored first.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Pepper Ex-Fan

    This is the first book I officially read related to prison abolition. The basic idea is that reform is no good and just a way to make people feel better about themselves. The biggest surprise is that even social workers, who I generally think of as kind, considerate, and selfless human beings, can be complicit in the policing of those who may need help but not that way.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Simone

    This book contains well researched clear and cogent arguments against the prison industrial complex. I learned a lot about electronic monitoring - I can't believe that people have to pay to be monitored. They also discuss restorative and transformative justice.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Khan Ashraf Alif

    The author precisely pointedout the distorted ways which r are spreading for the sake of money, power and extortion of civil rights.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Excellent book - readable, covers a lot of ground, clearly lays out the harms caused by "alternatives" to prison that are prison-like. A must read for anyone advocating for reform or abolition of prisons/policing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cecília Lynn

    Outstanding read. Highly recommend. This book gave me a better in-depth knowledge of where and why more resources are needed to rehabilitate offenders.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erica Spiller

    This book should be required reading.

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