Beyond these walls Rethinking crime and punishment in the United States

Tony Platt, 1942-

Book - 2019

"Beyond These Walls is an ambitious and far-ranging exploration that tracks the legacy of crime and imprisonment in the United States, from the historical roots of the American criminal justice system to our modern state of over-incarceration, and offers a bold vision for a new future. Author Tony Platt, a recognized authority in the field of criminal justice, challenges the way we think about how and why millions of people are tracked, arrested, incarcerated, catalogued, and regulated in t...he United States. Beyond These Walls traces the disturbing history of punishment and social control, revealing how the criminal justice system attempts to enforce and justify inequalities associated with class, race, gender, and sexuality. Prisons and police departments are central to this process, but other institutions--from immigration and welfare to educational and public health agencies--are equally complicit. Platt argues that international and national politics shape perceptions of danger and determine the policies of local criminal justice agencies, while private policing and global corporations are deeply and undemocratically involved in the business of homeland security. Finally, Beyond These Walls demonstrates why efforts to reform criminal justice agencies have often expanded rather than contracted the net of social control. Drawing upon a long tradition of popular resistance, Platt concludes with a strategic vision of what it will take to achieve justice for all in this era of authoritarian disorder." -- Dust jacket.

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Subjects
Published
New York : St. Martin's Press 2019.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
372 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 335-363) and index.
ISBN
9781250085115
125008511X
Main Author
Tony Platt, 1942- (author)
  • State of injustice
  • Double system
  • Except for
  • On guard
  • The insecurity syndrome
  • The perils of reform
  • Radical visions
  • The distant present
  • Limbo
  • Appendix: note on statistical sources.
Review by Booklist Reviews

The U.S. leads the world in prison population, with no signs of abating. What elements contribute to this alarming statistic? How do factors such as poverty and racism, misogyny and illiteracy contribute to the ways in which crimes are investigated and adjudicated? Platt, a noted criminal-justice scholar, examines the policies and practices that have led to the current state of the nation's prison system, recalling its deep roots in political campaigns that have co-opted the notion of "law and order" as a dog whistle for discrimination against its most marginalized citizens. His wide-ranging narrative looks for discourse that suggest that current behaviors are not unique to this place and time. With strong emphasis on supporting statistics and studies, Platt amasses a wealth of sobering and illuminating details to reach an understanding of how past cultural attitudes influence contemporary incarceration methods. If changes are to be made regarding how America thinks about its justice system, Platt's inquiry will be an essential tool. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In this part history of crime and punishment, part leftist critique of capitalistic society, Platt expands on the military-industrial complex, which Dwight Eisenhower made famous in his Farewell Address to the Nation in 1961. Platt (Distinguished Affiliated Scholar, Ctr. for the Study of Law and Society, Univ. of California, Berkeley; The Child Savers) maintains that the military-industrial complex also includes a "police-industrial/prison-industrial" complex state that blurs public-private and national-international boundaries. He shows that attempts to document the significant budgetary dimension of this massive system are impossible since the Department of Homeland Security keeps a large portion of its budget hidden from public view. As alternatives to repression—torture, solitary confinement, and capital punishment—the author favors social welfare as a humanistic approach to treating those who have committed offenses. VERDICT Platt's readable and thought-provoking work should appeal to social scientists and the general readers interested in modern approaches to crime and punishment.—William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Platt (The Child Savers: The Invention of Delinquency), a justice studies professor, offers a well-sourced critique of American criminal justice institutions. He investigates why America's practices of punishment and social exclusions persist, giving concrete examples of a "double system" of justice in America, one for poor people and people of color and another for well-off white people. The book traces through American history the impulses and ideas that characterize the "carceral state," such as the confining of Native Americans on prisonlike reservations and post-Reconstruction racial terror. Platt argues that the carceral state today consists not only of courts and prisons but also of other institutions, including a punitive welfare system, a militaristic model of policing, powerful corporations (e.g., gun manufacturers) that profit from societal preoccupation with "insecurity," and federal counterterrorism organizations that surveil the populace. Many readers may find too radical Platt's assertions that numerous institutions are intentionally designed to maintain social control, but they will also find it difficult to discount his well-crafted, well-documented arguments. (Jan.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Presents a groundbreaking investigation into the roots of the American criminal justice system to link the broken practices of the Trump administration to failures in past racial, gender, and class reforms.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The author of Grave Matters presents a groundbreaking investigation into the roots of the American criminal justice system to link the broken practices of the Trump administration to failures in past racial, gender and class reforms.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“You should definitely read this book… What really struck me in reading Beyond These Walls was that Tony Platt had very seriously and carefully considered the contributions of social movements—feminist, queer, disability, and labor.” —Angela Davis Beyond These Walls is an ambitious and far-ranging exploration that tracks the legacy of crime and imprisonment in the United States, from the historical roots of the American criminal justice system to our modern state of over-incarceration, and offers a bold vision for a new future. Author Tony Platt, a recognized authority in the field of criminal justice, challenges the way we think about how and why millions of people are tracked, arrested, incarcerated, catalogued, and regulated in the United States. Beyond These Walls traces the disturbing history of punishment and social control, revealing how the criminal justice system attempts to enforce and justify inequalities associated with class, race, gender, and sexuality. Prisons and police departments are central to this process, but other institutions – from immigration and welfare to educational and public health agencies – are equally complicit. Platt argues that international and national politics shape perceptions of danger and determine the policies of local criminal justice agencies, while private policing and global corporations are deeply and undemocratically involved in the business of homeland security. Finally, Beyond These Walls demonstrates why efforts to reform criminal justice agencies have often expanded rather than contracted the net of social control. Drawing upon a long tradition of popular resistance, Platt concludes with a strategic vision of what it will take to achieve justice for all in this era of authoritarian disorder.