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Prisons of Poverty

2009
Author:

Loïc Wacquant

Prisons of Poverty

An international best seller dissects the globalization of penal policies “made in U.S.A.” as part of the spread of neoliberalism

Now available in English for the first time in an expanded edition, Prisons of Poverty reveals how the Washington consensus on economic deregulation and welfare retrenchment was extended to encompass punitive crime control because the invisible hand of the market necessitates and calls forth the iron fist of the penal state.

Prisons of Poverty combines the methodology and theoretical perspective of European critique with a detailed knowledge of American attitude and policy. The result is a powerful dissection and passionate indictment of mass incarceration.

Franklin E. Zimring, Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley

In the early 1990s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani launched a zero-tolerance campaign aimed at street disorders and petty offenders, incarnated in the infamous “squeegee man.” New York City soon became a planetary showcase for an aggressive approach to law enforcement that, despite its extravagant costs and the absence of connection to the crime drop, came to be admired and imitated by other cities in the United States, Western Europe, and Latin America.

In Prisons of Poverty, Loïc Wacquant tracks the incubation and internationalization of the slogans, theories, and measures composing this new punitive “common sense,” fashioned to curb mounting urban inequality and marginality in the metropolis. He finds that a network of Reagan-era conservative think tanks (led by the Manhattan Institute) forged them as weapons in their crusade to dismantle the welfare state and, in effect, to criminalize poverty. He traces their import and export through the agency of the media and the pro-market policy institutes that have mushroomed across the European Union, particularly in Tony Blair’s Britain. And he shows how academics helped smuggle U.S. techniques of penalization into their countries by dressing them up in scholarly garb.

Now available in English for the first time in an expanded edition, Prisons of Poverty reveals how the Washington consensus on economic deregulation and welfare retrenchment was extended to encompass punitive crime control because the invisible hand of the market necessitates and calls forth the iron fist of the penal state.

Prisons of Poverty

Loïc Wacquant is professor of sociology at the University of California–Berkeley and researcher at the Centre de sociologie européenne in Paris.

Prisons of Poverty

Prisons of Poverty combines the methodology and theoretical perspective of European critique with a detailed knowledge of American attitude and policy. The result is a powerful dissection and passionate indictment of mass incarceration.

Franklin E. Zimring, Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley

Written with wit and precision, Prisons of Poverty documents the build-up of the carceral state in the U.S. and tracks the punitive winds blowing across the Atlantic to Western Europe. If you want to understand the ugly underbelly of the First World in the 21st century, this is the book to read.

Jock Young, author of The Vertigo of Late Modernity

The most surprising impact of this book proves not to be its being ‘taken up’ around the world, but rather how the author himself was transformed by it and committed thereafter to making it a project of his life’s work.

Law, Culture and the Humanities

With urgent prose, Loïc Wacquant diagnoses an acute condition spreading from the USA to Europe to Latin America: the pathology of the penal state.

The Howard Journal