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Why American Prisons Fail book jacket View Table of Contents and Introductory Material
ISBN978-1-61163-518-8
e-ISBN978-1-61163-945-2

Why American Prisons Fail

How to Fix Them without Spending More Money (Maybe Less)

by Peyton Paxson, George H. Watson

2016 $38.00 266 pp paper

Tags: Corrections

Teacher's Manual available

Available on Kindle  Available on Kindle

Available on Redshelf  Available on Redshelf


In Why American Prisons Fail: How to Fix Them without Spending More Money (Maybe Less), two former law school classmates, Peyton Paxson, a criminal justice professor, and George H. Watson, a past federal inmate and former attorney, address the issues currently facing our corrections system. They begin by describing how events in the late twentieth century caused the US to have the highest incarceration rate in the world today. They go on to discuss how Watson found himself in prison and his observations of how prisons fail to do their job—to rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them for reintegration back into society.

The book provides brief surveys of the history of criminological theory and American prisons and compares U.S. penology with that of other Western democracies. The authors also examine the political and economic factors that drive today’s mass incarceration phenomenon. They conclude with a discussion of existing best practices and proposed reforms to move away from expensive and unsuccessful mass incarceration toward a more effective system. Why American Prisons Fail is particularly timely, as there are rising bipartisan calls in Washington and among the states to adopt a different response to crime.

PowerPoint slides are available to professors upon adoption of this book. Download sample slides from the full 133-slide presentation here. If you have adopted the book for a course, contact bhall (at) cap-press (dot) com to request the PowerPoint slides.

Named in the Top 75 Community College Titles: August 2017 Edition of CHOICE 360

“Prisons are worlds unto themselves. Unless an author has worked in a prison or served time in one, an account of how and why they’ve become such failed institutions will lack depth and authenticity. George Watson spent time in federal prison (the absurdity of his conviction alone speaks volumes about the problems plaguing the criminal justice system). Along with co-author Peyton Paxson, he uses the experience to build a compelling and comprehensive critique of America’s “correctional” system. This is one of the best books I’ve seen in years on why we must rethink the way we punish people, and practical blueprint for how. Excellent for undergraduate and graduate students alike. The authors’ fluid writing style, comprehensive teaching manual and Power Points are an added bonus.” 
— Jennifer R. Wynn, LaGuardia Community College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, author of Inside Rikers: Stories from the World's Largest Penal Colony

“…an interesting and educational perspective on the national correction system…not only an excellent primer on the political and social history of the mass incarceration movement, but also rehabilitation…professors will find a great deal of discussion material for their classes.” — Lydia M. Long, Ph.D., McMurry University

“Really glad that I chose Why American Prisons Fail for my Introduction to Corrections classes. It is very timely and well written … just what I was looking for as an adjunct to the primary text I am using.” — Thomas Roscoe, Ph.D., Westfield State University 

"...an insightful text that details America's path toward becoming the nation with the highest incarceration rates in the world...Without doubt, Paxson's and Watson's reform proposals are important and necessary at a time when criminal justice reform is used as a buzzword across the American political spectrum."—Criminal Justice Review 


Complimentary Copy RequestIf you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.

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