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This unique book provides a rare insight into the debilitating impact of regimes that fail to respond to the complex and gender specific needs of women behind bars. Exploring the marginalization, mental health and experiences of women in prison, it specifically focuses on the legacy of women's imprisonment in Northern Ireland. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Other Editions 2. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Sort order. Brian Burt added it Mar 15, Amy Zala marked it as to-read Dec 30, Aisha marked it as to-read Apr 08, Today Hoover is viewed unsympathetically as having stood outside mainstream ideas of law and order.

Punishing Women's Unruly Bodies

Moreover, Hoover was operating within an American tradition of criminalizing black leadership. In its time, the Underground Railroad was regarded by supporters of slavery as an interstate criminal enterprise devoted to the theft of property. Harriet Tubman, purloiner of many thousands of dollars in human bodies, was considered a bandit of the highest order.

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The same is true today. Yet blacks were 14 percent more likely to be subjected to force. If policing in New York under Giuliani and Bloomberg was crime prevention tainted by racist presumptions, in other areas of the country ostensible crime prevention has mutated into little more than open pillage. These findings had been augured by the reporting of The Washington Post The reporter for The Washington Post deserves to be cited by name— Radley Balko , whose writing and reporting on the problems of modern policing has greatly improved my own understanding of the issue.

This was not public safety driving policy—it was law enforcement tasked with the job of municipal plunder. It is patently true that black communities, home to a class of people regularly discriminated against and impoverished, have long suffered higher crime rates. The historian David M. Leniency toward Negro defendants in cases involving crimes against other Negroes is thus actually a form of discrimination. Crime within the black community was primarily seen as a black problem, and became a societal problem mainly when it seemed to threaten the white population.

Take the case of New Orleans between the world wars, when, as Jeffrey S. The principal source of the intensifying war on crime was white anxiety about social control. In , the Supreme Court had ruled that a racial-zoning scheme in the city was unconstitutional. The black population of New Orleans was growing.

And there was increasing pressure from some government officials to spread New Deal programs to black people. The staggering rise in incarceration rates in interwar Louisiana coincided with a sense among whites that the old order was under siege. In the coming decades, this phenomenon would be replicated on a massive, national scale.

The American response to crime cannot be divorced from a history of equating black struggle—individual and collective—with black villainy. And so it is unsurprising that in the midst of the civil-rights movement, rising crime was repeatedly linked with black advancement. Should Joe Biden run for president, he has to be asked about his time spent cheerleading for more prisons.

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As president, Nixon did just that: During his second term, incarceration rates began their historic rise. They must be hunted to the end of the earth. I wish I could claim to have dug these up. I cannot. We knew it. A centuries-long legacy of equating blacks with criminals and moral degenerates did the work for him. In , while campaigning for president, Nixon was taped rehearsing a campaign ad.

As incarceration rates rose and prison terms became longer, the idea of rehabilitation was mostly abandoned in favor of incapacitation.

Women and Law: Women in prison

Mandatory minimums—sentences that set a minimum length of punishment for the convicted—were a bipartisan achievement of the s backed not just by conservatives such as Strom Thurmond but by liberals such as Ted Kennedy. Conservatives believed mandatory sentencing would prevent judges from exercising too much leniency; liberals believed it would prevent racism from infecting the bench. Before reform, prisoners typically served 40 to 70 percent of their sentences. After reform, they served 87 to percent of their sentences. Moreover, despite what liberals had hoped for, bias was not eliminated, because discretion now lay with prosecutors, who could determine the length of a sentence by deciding what crimes to charge someone with.

District attorneys with reelection to consider could demonstrate their zeal to protect the public with the number of criminals jailed and the length of their stay. Prosecutors were not alone in their quest to appear tough on crime. There was no real doubt as to who would be the target of this newfound toughness. Senate seat in New York.

He was respected as a scholar and renowned for his intellect. But his preoccupations had not changed. This might well have been true as a description of drug enforcement policies , but it was not true of actual drug abuse: Surveys have repeatedly shown that blacks and whites use drugs at remarkably comparable rates.

Moynihan had by the late Reagan era evidently come to believe the worst distortions of his own report. Gone was any talk of root causes; in its place was something darker. In seeming to abandon scholarship for rhetoric, Moynihan had plenty of company among social scientists and political pundits. James Q. But the thrust of his rhetoric was martial.

Even as The Atlantic published those words, violent crime had begun to plunge. But thought leaders were slow to catch up. In , William J. Bennett, John P. Walters, and John J. DiIulio Jr. For the next decade, incarceration rates shot up even further. The justification for resorting to incarceration was the same in as it was in Many African Americans concurred that crime was a problem. The argument that high crime is the predictable result of a series of oppressive racist policies does not render the victims of those policies bulletproof.

Likewise, noting that fear of crime is well grounded does not make that fear a solid foundation for public policy. In , the ACLU published a report noting a year uptick in marijuana arrests. And yet by the close of the 20th century, prison was a more common experience for young black men than college graduation or military service.

This conclusion was reached not warily, but lustily. As a presidential candidate, Bill Clinton flew home to Arkansas to preside over the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, a mentally disabled, partially lobotomized black man who had murdered two people in Joe Biden, then the junior senator from Delaware, quickly became the point man for showing that Democrats would not go soft on criminals. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for , new state prison cells. In Texas, the Democratic governor, Ann Richards, had come to power in advocating rehabilitation, but she ended up following the national trend, curtailing the latitude of judges and the parole board in favor of fixed sentencing, which gave power to prosecutors.

In New York, another liberal governor, Mario Cuomo, found himself facing an exploding prison population.

After voters rejected funding for more prisons, Cuomo pulled the money from the Urban Development Corporation, an agency that was supposed to build public housing for the poor. It did—in prison. Under the avowedly liberal Cuomo, New York added more prison beds than under all his predecessors combined. This was penal welfarism at its finest. Prison presented a solution: jobs for whites, and warehousing for blacks. Dark predictions of rising crime did not bear out.

Like the bestial blacks of the 19th century, super-predators proved to be the stuff of myth. This realization cannot be regarded strictly as a matter of hindsight. In the end, she voted for it. Pepper also voted for it. In , President Clinton signed a new crime bill, which offered grants to states that built prisons and cut back on parole. Those were, and are, real problems. But even in trying to explain his policies, Clinton neglected to retract the assumption underlying them—that incarcerating large swaths of one population was a purely well-intended, logical, and nonracist response to crime.

Even at the time of its passage, Democrats—much like the Republican Nixon a quarter century earlier—knew that the crime bill was actually about something more than that. On the evening of December 19, , Odell Newton, who was then 16 years old, stepped into a cab in Baltimore with a friend, rode half a block, then shot and killed the driver, Edward Mintz. The State of Maryland charged Odell with crimes including murder in the first degree and sentenced him to life in prison.

He has now spent 41 years behind bars, but by all accounts he is a man reformed.