Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 April 2019
A recurring question for students of punishment has been: why, despite more than “one and a half centuries of failure” (Cohen 1979: 341), has the prison persisted? Throughout history, reformers, politicians, voters, and others have assigned prisons myriad tasks associated with crime reduction – various incarnations of rehabilitation, deterrence, and incapacitation. After every significant reform effort, prisons have disappointed. In the 1970s, prisons were accused of failing to rehabilitate (Martinson 1974; Allen 1981), or potentially making prisoners worse through the process of labeling (Becker 1963).