Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms
A crucial indictment of widely embraced alternatives to incarceration that exposes how many of these new approaches actually widen the net of punishment and surveillance
But what does it mean--really--to celebrate reforms that convert your home into your prison?
--Michelle Alexander, from the foreword
Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. Mandated psychiatric treatment. Data-driven surveillance. Extended probation. These are some of the key alternatives held up as cost-effective substitutes for jails and prisons. But many of these so-called reforms actually widen the net, weaving in new strands of punishment and control, and bringing new populations, who would not otherwise have been subject to imprisonment, under physical control by the state.
As mainstream public opinion has begun to turn against mass incarceration, political figures on both sides of the spectrum are pushing for reform. But--though they're promoted as steps to confront high rates of imprisonment--many of these measures are transforming our homes and communities into prisons instead.
In Prison by Any Other Name, activist journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal the way the kinder, gentler narrative of reform can obscure agendas of social control and challenge us to question the ways we replicate the status quo when pursuing change. A foreword by Michelle Alexander situates the book in the context of criminal justice reform conversations. Finally, the book offers a bolder vision for truly alternative justice practices.
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About the Author
Maya Schenwar is the editor-in-chief of Truthout. She is co-author (with Victoria Law) of Prison by Any Other Name as well as the author of Locked Down, Locked Out and the co-editor of the anthology Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? She lives in Chicago.
Victoria Law is a freelance journalist and the co-author (with Maya Schenwar) of Prison by Any Other Name as well as the author of Resistance Behind Bars and co-editor of Don't Leave Your Friends Behind. She is a co-founder of NYC Books Through Bars and lives in New York.
Praise for Prison by Any Other Name
"Important reading for anyone involved in the criminal justice system."
"In this timely work' Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law offer us exciting new perspectives that reveal abolition to be the most reasonable path toward a just future."
--Angela Y. Davis, author of Are Prisons Obsolete?
"A clear-eyed reality check. Essential reading for anyone who wants to know how all Americans can become more safe and more free."
--Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black
"Reminds us powerfully' soberingly, and unequivocally, that we simply can't end today's carceral crisis by calling for reforms that are still' fundamentally' punitive."
--Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water
"This powerful book is essential reading for everyone dedicated to building a society where prisons are obsolete."
--Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body and Shattered Bonds
"Grassroots organizing and policy demands will take inspiration and shape from these pages' which show how an insatiable system sucks time and money from individuals' households' and communities. The detailed stories about real people highlight abolition's poignant urgency."
--Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Golden Gulag
"A clear-eyed appraisal. Essential reading for anyone serious about ending mass incarceration."
--Dan Berger, author of Captive Nation
"Finally' a book that illustrates how carcerality has traveled far beyond the walls of confinement to spread punitive policies into the community spaces that at one time were part of the 'free world.' Schenwar and Law challenge us all to think more critically about what justice really looks like."
--Beth Richie, author of Arrested Justice
"Beware of New Coke: the same product offered with new packaging. Prison by Any Other Name sounds an alarm about the extension of the prison through 'alternative to incarceration' projects. It demonstrates that these 'alternatives' continue the work of imprisonment in different ways. It also points us towards a way out of criminalization. The book is an important addition to the new canon of work focused on mass criminalization in the U.S. READ. THIS. BOOK."
--Mariame Kaba, founder and director of Project NIA
"Prison by Any Other Name is the book we need right now: clear, full of compelling examples, readable and convincing. It is the kind of book that activists and organizations can use as a tool' and that teachers can use in classrooms. If you care about policing and imprisonment and want to be part of making change' this book is a must-read."
--Dean Spade, author of Normal Life
"A must-read--Prison by Any Other Name offers an urgent counter-narrative to the lies of prison reform and so-called 'alternatives to incarceration.'"
--Ann Russo, author of Feminist Accountability
"With vivid and timely reportage and analysis, Law and Schenwar not only remind us to keep our eyes on the prize--real freedom, not different forms of caging and policing--but offer clear and engaged tools and pathways to grow our abolitionist practice."
--Erica R. Meiners, co-author of The Feminist and the Sex Offender
"Law and Schenwar deliver the first comprehensive examination of how mass incarceration continues to change in order to remain the same. A highly readable tour de force that not only critiques but offers creative yet feasible solutions. This book will inspire anyone concerned with eliminating the scourge of mass incarceration and ensuring we don't replace steel and concrete cages with open air techno-prisons."
--James Kilgore, author of Understanding Mass Incarceration