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The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics
Marie Gottschalk
With a new preface by the author

Winner of the 2016 Michael Harrington Book Award, New Political Science Section of the American Political Science Association

Paperback | 2016 | $24.95 | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691170831
504 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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The huge prison buildup of the past four decades has few defenders, yet reforms to reduce the numbers of those incarcerated have been remarkably modest. Meanwhile, an ever-widening carceral state has sprouted in the shadows, extending its reach far beyond the prison gate. It sunders families and communities and reworks conceptions of democracy, rights, and citizenship—posing a formidable political and social challenge. In Caught, Marie Gottschalk examines why the carceral state remains so tenacious in the United States. She analyzes the shortcomings of the two dominant penal reform strategies—one focused on addressing racial disparities, the other on seeking bipartisan, race-neutral solutions centered on reentry, justice reinvestment, and reducing recidivism.

With a new preface evaluating the effectiveness of recent proposals to reform mass incarceration, Caught offers a bracing appraisal of the politics of penal reform.

Marie Gottschalk is professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. A former journalist and editor, she was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration. She is the author of, among other works, The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America and The Shadow Welfare State: Labor, Business, and the Politics of Health Care in the United States.


"Carefully documented. . . . It is hard to imagine a more comprehensive analysis of our shameful crisis."--Adam Hochschild, New York Review of Books

"Gottschalk provides a systematic, surprising, and scathing critique of the prison state. . . . Caught may well be the best book on this subject to appear in decades."--Glenn C. Altschuler, Huffington Post

"Gottschalk is particularly convincing about the follow-on effects of incarceration on the vulnerable neighborhoods that contribute most to the prison population."--Jakub Wrzewniewski, Pacific Standard

"An encyclopedic synthesis of recent scholarly work and journalism on criminal justice, Caught spans a wide range of topics but has a simple refrain: Beware of bipartisan reformers bearing gifts. Politicians pretend that hard problems are easy and make easy problems hard. Gottschalk, to her credit, is no politician."--Sara Mayeux, Chronicle Review

"Everyone . . . should read this book."--Angelia Wilson, Times Higher Education

"Gottschalk has done a public service. She has tried to untangle a fiendishly complex subject, helping to liberate her readers from the intellectual prison of conventional wisdom in the process."--Gary Silverman, Financial Times

"Marie Gottschalk's commanding and disturbing Caught is our best guide to the political decisions and public policies that have created the carceral state and our present immobility on the issue of crime and its punishment. . . . Caught is that relatively rare academic book that hopes to move both public debate and policy."--Michael Meranze, Los Angeles Review of Books

"[D]evastatingly persuasive. . . . Caught proves not only an authoritative companion to the criminal justice system crises you know, but also a thorough compendium of the crises you've never even considered."--Stephen Lurie, Los Angeles Review of Books

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