punishment | WAMC

punishment

Book cover for "Halfway Home" and author photo of Reuben Miller
Little Brown and Company

  Each year, more than half a million Americans are released from prison and join a population of twenty million people who live with a felony record.
 
Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and now a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison.

Miller's book is "Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration."

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 the book "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.

Preet Bharara was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York until he was fired by President Trump. His new book, "Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law," explores the justice system through his experiences.

Bharara served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017. He oversaw the investigation and litigation of all criminal and civil cases and supervised an office of more than two hundred Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who handled cases involving terrorism, narcotics and arms trafficking, financial and healthcare fraud, cybercrime, public corruption, gang violence, organized crime, and civil rights violations.

In 2017, Bharara joined the NYU School of Law faculty as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence. He is the host of "Stay Tuned with Preet," a podcast focused on issues of justice and fairness.

Alisa Roth is a former staff reporter for Marketplace and frequent contributor to various NPR programs. A Soros Justice Fellow, her work has also appeared in the New York Review of Books and New York Times.

America has made mental illness a crime. Jails in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago each house more people with mental illnesses than any hospital. As many as half of all people in America's jails and prisons have a psychiatric disorder. One in four fatal police shootings involves a person with such disorders.

In "Insane: America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness," Roth goes deep inside the criminal justice system to show how and why it has become a warehouse where inmates are denied proper treatment, abused, and punished in ways that make them sicker.