Big Prisons, Big Dreams: Crime and the Failure of America's Penal System

By Michael J. Lynch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8

The End of Oil and the Future of American Prisons ?

THIS CHAPTER EXAMINES operating and reforming America's large prison system within the context of two interrelated problems: the decline of the fossil fuel or [the end of oil,] and global warming.1 Researchers who take an extreme view on the end of oil are concerned that a worse-case scenario will develop unless societies immediately begin to overhaul energy production, produce non—fossil fuel energy alternatives, and teach people to live on less by promoting sustainable growth as both an economic development strategy and consumptive value system. Some, for example, have suggested that the end of oil will correspond with the end of industrial society (Duncan, 2005). The majority of end-of-oil researchers share a pessimistic view that the kinds of rapid technological change needed to avert disaster cannot emerge quickly enough to alleviate the fossil-fuel shortage or global warming. Yet there are signs of hope, such as the 100 plus mile per gallon hybrids researchers have recently developed (Kristof 2006).

It should be noted that the pessimistic attitudes of many end-ofoil researchers stems from the impact of emerging fossil fuel—based energy alternatives on the global environment. The end of oil literature is not simply about estimating when and if oil supplies will decline and threaten the world's energy supply—it is also about the level of pollution and global warming,2 and whether alternative fossil-fuel sources (not fossil-fuel alternatives) can solve this problem. For example, there may be enough oil available in oil sands or shale to operate a fossil-fuel economy well beyond the middle of this century. But at what cost to human and environmental health? Thus, questions about the end of oil must also be addressed with environmental effects in mind. Human

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Big Prisons, Big Dreams: Crime and the Failure of America's Penal System
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Dedication v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Prisons and Crime 20
  • Chapter 3 - The Growth of America's Prison System 49
  • Chapter 4 - Raising Questions About America's Big Prison System 82
  • Chapter 5 - Explaining Prison Growth in the United States 110
  • Chapter 6 - Prison Effects 146
  • Chapter 7 - The Imprisonment Binge and Crime 173
  • Chapter 8 - The End of Oil and the Future of American Prisons ? 203
  • Chapter 9 - A Consuming Culture 220
  • Notes 229
  • References 241
  • Index 253
  • About the Author 259
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