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8 - The Birth of the Penal Organization: Why Prisons Were Born to Fail

from Part II - Court Reform on Trial

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 April 2019

Rosann Greenspan
University of California, Berkeley
Hadar Aviram
University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Jonathan Simon
University of California, Berkeley
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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).

The Legal Process and the Promise of Justice
Studies Inspired by the Work of Malcolm Feeley
, pp. 152 - 171
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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