Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in Americas Prisons

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Preface to the Second Edition Preface to the Second Edition ust as the first edition of this book was published in , shocking video emerged of U.

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The images produced a wave of revulsion among Americans. The scandal also placed increased attention on the U. Suddenly, some Americans began to question conditions in the U. They asked themselves whether we should not be at least as concerned about the mistreatment of U. Unfortunately, that wave of attention and concern did not sustain itself for very long.

Soon enough, it was back to business as usual.

The State of American Prison System

The story receded from the headlines while the steady, relentless growth of our giant prison system continued unchecked. That is not to say there have not been some positive developments in the past two years. An independent bipartisan Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons was established and began holding public hearings.

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I testified at the first of them. The Commission's eventual report could focus much-needed attention on the issue of prison abuse. Drug courts are spreading around the nation, diverting more and more non-violent offenders away from prison and toward treatment. There are also signs that the federal government is finally taking the scourge of prison rape seriously.

Meanwhile, a group of congressional members of both parties began a new effort to pass a bill that would dismantle some of the barriers that prevent released prisoners from being reabsorbed into society. On the negative side, the costs of incarceration are exploding, despite the efforts of states and counties to explore alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders. Lawmakers continue to invent new mandatory sentences, which as usual will fall disproportionately on young African Americans and Hispanics.


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A good example is the so-called "Gangbusters Act" passed by the House of Representatives in April The act condemns juveniles to or year prison sentences or even the death penalty for a long list of so-called 'gang crimes. A gang is defined as any group of three or more people who commit two crimes. Gates of Injustice points out two fundamental problems.

If You're an Educator

Our prison system is too big and it remains too abusive. What can we do about this? As members of a proud democracy, we have the right and the responsibility to make sure that our elected representatives hear our voices about subjects that matter to us. But first, we need to educate ourselves. I hope once again that this book will play a part in that process. Alan Elsner, Washington, D. Like any travel book, it profiles the people that live in this land, outlines their customs, history, geography, and language and lists the many dangers that lurk.

Alan Elsner reading "Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons" on Vimeo

It also provides key facts about the local currency, food, and health care. Readers may ask, Why would anyone want to visit this forbidding land, even in a book? After all, we're never going there. Why should we want to know what really goes on in America's prisons?

Why should we care about the massive growth of the U. Why should we worry about the racial inequalities? Why do we need to be told about the abuses?

The Caging of America

Why should we bother about the plight of the hundreds of thousands of mentally ill people kept behind bars, about the thousands of men subjected to rape, about women abused and harassed, about those left in solitary confinement for months and years on end with virtually no human contact? I need your help. I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda.

Over the last 17 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies. Thank you. And our other newsletters: Research Library updates? Prison gerrymandering campaign?

Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons

Kupers, M. Our jails and prisons and penitentiaries are failing us at enormous cost in money and in danger to society. Elsner makes an overwhelming case for reform, and his many sensible proposals deserve to be implemented. This book shouldbe a wake-up call for federal, state, and local governments across America. Kennedy "Everyone interested in safer communities should read "Gates of Injustice. Alan Elsner does not just thoroughly document and condemn our system, he offers several excellent suggestions to improve it.

It charts the negative impact on both inmates and society of what is essentially a wasteful and inhumane system. The author offers a series of practical proposals for reform, which are long overdue. This is an important book for anyone interested in human rights and penal policy. Drawing on interviews and exhaustive research across the country, Alan Elsner documents the dangerous, abusive, and corrosive conditions under which more than 2 million men and women now live.


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