American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment

By Sasha Abramsky | Go to book overview

NOTES

Unless otherwise indicated, quotes from sources are from interviews I carried out while researching this book and occasionally while researching articles relating to the United States criminal-justice system. Most of the interviews were carried out in 2004 and 2005; a few date back as far as 2001.


INTRODUCTION: FROM OUT OF TARTARUS

1. In May 2004 the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics published Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2003, by Paige Harrison and Jennifer Karberg. The report found that, as of June 30, 2003, Louisiana imprisoned 803 per 100,000 residents; Texas, 692; Mississippi, 688; Oklahoma, 645; and Alabama, 612. Nationwide, 238 per 100,000 were in jail at any one time. While the report didn't break down state jail numbers, assuming that the leading prison states also jail people at at least the national average, by mid-2003 Louisiana would have been incarcerating nearly 1,100 per 100,000 residents on any given day. Since the report was released, all of these states have seen their incarceration rates increase.

2. In the late 1990s the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that nearly one in three black men in their twenties was either in prison or jail or on parole or probation. The Bureau's report Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2001 estimated that the national rate of incarceration for black Americans, of all ages and both sexes, was 2,209 per 100,000, compared to 759 for Latinos and 366 for non-Latino whites. The bureau's Prison Statistics: Summary Findings for December 31, 2004, found that 3,218 per 100,000 black males were in prison, compared to 1,220 Hispanic males and 463 white males. In 2004 the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project published numbers indicating even higher black incarceration rates in some states: 4,058 per 100,000 blacks of all ages and both sexes were incarcerated in Wisconsin; 3,302 in Iowa; 3,287 in Texas; 2,980 in Oklahoma; and 2,799 in Delaware.

3. The best study on this subject is Khaled Taqi-Eddin's Class Dismissed: Higher Education vs. Corrections during the Wilson Years (San Francisco: Justice Policy Institute, September 1998). The study shows that under Governor Pete Wilson, the state's higher-education budget had dropped by 3 percent while the corrections budget had grown by 60 percent. A follow-up article by Dan Reed, “Gap in Education, Prison Funds,” appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on September 23, 1998. In 2003, at the end of Governor Gray Davis's gubernatorial term, journalist Mark Martin published similar findings in the San Francisco Chronicle. His article, “Davis Plan Spares Prisons—1% Funding Increase Proposed despite State's Hefty Deficits,” reported that Davis was increasing spending on prisons while proposing a 4.2 percent cut in funding for the University of California system and a 4.5 percent reduction in spending on the California State University system.

4. Numbers provided by the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

5. Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

6. Charles Murray, “The Hallmark of the Underclass,” Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2005.

7. James Q. Wilson, Thinking about Crime, rev. ed. (New York: Vintage, 1983), p. 5. Wilson and Richard J. Hernstein, Crime and Human Nature (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985).

-181-

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American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction - From Out of Tartarus ix
  • Part One - A Mindset Molded 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Holy Experiment 3
  • Chapter 2 - A Rising Tide of Violence 23
  • Chapter 3 - Using a Sledgehammer to Kill a Gnat 43
  • Chapter 4 - Victims, Fundamentalists, and Rant-Radio Hacks 59
  • Chapter 5 - Reductio Ad Absurdum 73
  • Part Two - Populating Bedlam 89
  • Chapter 6 - Open for Business 91
  • Chapter 7 - Till the End of Time 107
  • Chapter 8 - Storehouses of the Living Dead 129
  • Chapter 9 - Adult Time 153
  • Conclusion 169
  • Acknowledgments 179
  • Notes 181
  • Selected Bibliography 199
  • Index 207
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