Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment

Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment

Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment

Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment

Synopsis

In the late 20th century, the United States experienced an incarceration explosion. Over the course of twenty years, the imprisonment rate quadrupled, and today more than than 1.5 million people are held in state and federal prisons. Arizona's Department of Corrections came of age just as this shift toward prison warehousing began, and soon led the pack in using punitive incarceration in response to crime. Sunbelt Justice looks at the development of Arizona's punishment politics, policies, and practices, and brings to light just how and why we have become a mass incarceration nation.

Excerpt

It is no longer news that over the past three decades, the use of incarceration in many Western nations has exploded, most dramatically in the United States. This phenomenon, at least in the United States, would have been hard to predict even five years before it began during the late 1970s, given that a budding movement away from the prison as a central penal response to criminal offending seemed to be under way at that time and the use of incarceration in the United States had, for decades, been quite stable. From 1929 to 1967, the U.S. state and federal prison incarceration rate hovered around 100 prisoners per 100,000 population (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998), so there was little to forecast the explosion in prison population to come. Indeed, beginning in the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, the imprisonment rate in this country began a slow but consistent decline, which seemed to signify a new horizon in penology that moved corrections away from isolated total institutions and back into less restrictive community settings. This downward trend fit with what was happening in a number of state institutions and was predicted by many as the logical outcome of the turmoil that was brewing around punishment ideals and practices (Scull, 1977).

The consequences of this turmoil within corrections took several forms. the most significant alternative to the prison that appeared to be emerging was what is known as “community corrections” or community-based control (Cohen, 1979). the ideology underlying this movement spoke of the involvement of family, schools, peers, neighborhoods, the police, and an array of community professionals in keeping criminal offenders in line within communities rather than isolated in segregated penal institutions. Although the . . .

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