Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms
With a new afterword from the authors, the critically praised indictment of widely embraced "alternatives to incarceration"
"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 in a searing, "cogent critique" (Library Journal), Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal that many of these so-called reforms actually weave in new strands of punishment and control, bringing new populations who would not otherwise have been subject to imprisonment under physical control by the state.
Whether readers are seasoned abolitionists or are newly interested in sensible alternatives to retrograde policing and criminal justice policies and approaches, this highly praised book offers "a wealth of critical insights" that will help readers "tread carefully through the dizzying terrain of a world turned upside down" and "make sense of what should take the place of mass incarceration" (The Brooklyn Rail).
With a foreword by Michelle Alexander, Prison by Any Other Name exposes how a kinder narrative of reform is effectively obscuring an agenda of social control, challenging us to question the ways we replicate the status quo when pursuing change, and offering a bolder vision for truly alternative justice practices.
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About the Author
Victoria Law is a freelance journalist 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:
A 2021 Finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism
Important reading for anyone involved in the criminal justice system.
A cogent critique. . . . Their impassioned yet evidence-based polemic exposes flaws in much of the perceived wisdom around the issue. Policy makers and criminal justice reform advocates should consider this bracing account a must-read.
Necessary reading for any critic of mass incarceration seeking to understand the myriad policy alternatives and the path to lasting liberation.
Abolishing police and prisons requires imaginative solutions; Schenwar and Law present them in ways that will make readers rethink their understanding of the carceral system.
Drawing on statistics, detailed research and personal anecdotes from people whose lives have been affected by incarceration, Prison by Any Other Name is both eye-opening and challenging. Encouraging readers to center the human lives caught in the broken, racist system in place today, this is crucial reading for anyone with a mind for justice.
"This is a book to be taken seriously by everyone who cares about what transformative justice might look like."
"Schenwar and Law have provided us with an accessible, comprehensive and exciting book about the perils of working towards criminal justice reform."
--Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books
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