The American Penal System
Transparency as a Pathway to Correctional Reform
This thoughtful examination of incarceration in the United States from the 1980s to the current time offers for consideration a transparent and humane correctional model for the future. Author Helen Clarke Molanphy employs an interdisciplinary approach encompassing sociology, penology, memoir, philosophy, and history.
Featuring the work of researchers as well as penal theorists of the Enlightenment era, literati who have written about crime and punishment, inmates, social justice activists, and journalists, the author incorporates first-hand interviews with participants in the landmark Ruiz v. Estelle lawsuit, which found incarceration in the Texas Department of Corrections to be cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Synthesizing lessons learned from years of studying the American prison system through contact with inmates, correctional authorities, legislators, and prisoner advocates, Molanphy offers a narrative of crime and punishment, degradation, and dehumanization, but with hope pointing to future correctional reforms. The book not only catalogs human rights abuses and the pain inflicted by corrupt penal systems, but also provides a roadmap for an enlightened society to conceive of ways to reduce mass incarceration and provide humane treatment of inmates.
This reflective survey of the pervasive issues that afflict the prison industrial complex offers a compelling analysis of the past and possible future of the US penal system for students of criminal justice, corrections, penology, and the sociology of punishment.
Table of Contents
Part I - The Texas Department of Corrections
1 - Texas Control Model
2 - Jailhouse Lawyers
3 - Ruiz v. Estelle
4 - Texas Prison Administrators
5 - Texas Today
Part II - Demographics of American Prisons
6 - The Unschooled
7 - The Young and the Old
8 - The Female Inmate
9 - Poor People of Color
10 - The Political Prisoner
Part III - Major Problems in Corrections
11 - Guard Brutality and Corruption
12 - Wrongfully Convicted
13 - Treatment of Mentally Ill Inmates
14 - Prison Labor
15 - Privatization of Corrections
Part IV - Toward Ending Mass Incarceration
16 - Legislative Agendas
17 - The Supreme Court and the US Department of Justice
18 - Reducing Recidivism
19 - Alternative Models
20 - Restorative Justice
Dr. Helen Clarke Molanphy is political science emeritus professor at Richland College in Dallas, Texas. She has taught sociology and criminal justice courses at various institutions including Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Dallas, Adams State University, the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and the Santa Fe Community College. Molanphy is the author of a family memoir, Over P.J. Clarke's Bar: Tales from New York's Famous Saloon, using her maiden name, Helen Marie Clarke. She resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband, John Molanphy.
"This book is an excellent survey of the pervasive issues that plague the American Prison System, and it eloquently interrogates valuable solutions for those very problems."
Dr. Tyrell Connor, Associate Professor, SUNY New Paltz