Our Punitive Society:
Race, Class, Gender and Punishment in America
"For almost 40 years,
Randall Shelden has been known for his ground-breaking work in juvenile
delinquency, gangs, and the history of American criminal justice. Two
of the finest additions to the literature are his Delinquency and
Juvenile Justice in American Society (2006) and Controlling the
Dangerous Classes (2008). In this new text, Shelden has done it
again by providing an interpretative overview for a number of disturbing
trends in American justice. For the United States of America to
sustain a Gulag system which has historical overtones to slavery is
indeed a very serious indictment of neo-liberal, criminal justice
policies. Luckily for us all, Shelden provides a way out of this failed
legacy. This is a superb overview of the issues facing all Americans,
and an equally cogent explanation for the historical patterns."
Prof. Matthew G.
Yeager, King’s University College, University of Western Ontario
“This book challenges
conventional wisdom about crime and punishment in the United States.
Tracing the origins of the rise in penal sanctioning to slavery and poor
houses, Shelden not only identifies macroeconomic forces as relevant to
imprisonment—he connects them directly. Poverty and political
powerlessness remain strong predictors of incarceration. Only when we
confront these realities will we achieve a viable and humane alternative
to our current incarceration binge. I will use this book as required
Professor and Chair, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice,
Dangerous Classes (2nd edition)
"Shelden's penetrating and highly informative study unravels the
historical roots of contemporary criminal justice systems and places
them in the context of measures to sustain hierarchies of class,
gender and race."
Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor, MIT