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The Warehouse Prison

Disposal of the New Dangerous Class

John Irwin
Afterword by Barbara Owen

Publication Date - 10 November 2004

ISBN: 9780195330472

318 pages
6 x 9 inches

In Stock

A unique study of the modern prison, this "insider's" perspective on prison life is essential reading for students of corrections and criminal justice.


While prison populations in the U.S. increased almost tenfold from 1980 to 2000, studies of men's prisons have dwindled. For this reason, eminent criminologist John Irwin was impelled to examine imprisonment during this period, and he chose Solano State Prison as the site for his study. Solano is a typical example of a prison in which new, popular forms of technology and prison regimens have been instituted. The facility houses up to 6,000 prisoners at middle-security levels--II and III in California's range of custodies. (The high-security supermax prisons are level IV.)

Irwin found that prison planners and administrators have developed a system that keeps the facility's 6,000 prisoners almost completely controlled--crowded together in limited space and with limited access to rehabilitative and recreational programs. This control is accomplished through the physical design of the prison, the rigid enforcement of an extensive set of rules, and a simplified protocol for transferring troublesome prisoners to supermax prisons.

Irwin also discovered that while the prisoners--most of whom are serving sentences of more than five years--are not brutalized, they suffer profoundly under this new form of imprisonment and experience tremendous readjustment difficulties when they are released back into society. In her Afterword, criminologist Barbara Owen investigates the conditions in women's correctional facilities and concludes that female prisoners endure even more abysmal treatment than the men.

This book examines the forces that have made the United States the most punitive nation in the world--and perhaps in all of history. Irwin's accessible writing style brings a real-world, insider's perspective to his depiction of prison life. Quotations from individuals within the correctional system further enliven this intriguing text. The Warehouse Prison is a unique study of the modern prison and essential reading for students of corrections and criminal justice.

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