Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons

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9780131427914: Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons

Gates of Injustice is an extraordinarily compelling expose of the American prison system: how more than 2,000,000 Americans came to be incarcerated; what it's really like on the inside; what it's like for the families left on the outside; and how an enormous "prison-industrial complex" has grown to support and promote imprisonment in place of virtually every other alternative. Reuters journalist Alan Elsner shows how prisons really work, how race-based gangs are able to control institutions and prey on weaker inmates, and how an epidemic of abuse and brutality has exploded across American prisons. Readers will discover the plight of 300,000 mentally ill people in prisons, virtually abandoned with little medical treatment. They'll also meet the fastest growing segment of the prison population: women. Readers go inside "supermax" prisons that cut inmates off from all human contact, and uncover the official corruption and brutality that riddles jail systems in major cities like Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. Finally, they'll learn prisons accelerate the spread of infectious diseases throughout the broader society, just one of the many ways the prison epidemic touches everyone, even if they've never met anyone who's gone to jail.

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From the Back Cover:

Alan Elsner's powerful book demonstrates that our $40 billion corrections system for both adults and juveniles is badly broken. Our jails and prisons and penitentiaries are failing us at enormous cost in money and in danger to society. Elsner makes an overwhelming case for reform, and his many sensible proposals deserve to be implemented. This book should be a wake-up call for federal, state, and local governments across America.—Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Everyone interested in safer communities should read Gates of Injustice. As a conservative Republican and a Christian, I can unhesitatingly recommend this book. Alan Elsner does not just thoroughly document and condemn our system, he offers several excellent suggestions to improve it. Gates of Injustice is a great resource.—Pat Nolan, President, Justice Fellowship and former Republican Leader of the California State Assembly

The book gives a chilling insight into the human cost of America's massive resort to incarceration in the past few decades, which sees the U.S. today with around a quarter of the world's prison population. It charts the negative impact on both inmates and society of what is essentially a wasteful and inhumane system. The author offers a series of practical proposals for reform, which are long overdue. This is an important book for anyone interested in human rights and penal policy.—Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International

Engaging, fast-paced and clear-eyed, Gates of Injustice shines a spotlight behind the walls of U.S. jails and prisons. Drawing on interviews and exhaustive research across the country, Alan Elsner documents the dangerous, abusive and corrosive conditions under which more than 2 million men and women now live. This is an unparalleled indictment of America's love affair with incarceration.—Jamie Fellner, Director, U.S. Program, Human Rights Watch

Elsner provides new insight into the powerful political and social forces driving imprisonment in America. Most importantly, he charts a path for reform ... one that could make America not merely more humane, but safer.

Gates of Injustice is a compelling exposť of the U.S. prison system: it tells how more than 2 million Americans came to be incarcerated ... what it's really like on the inside ... and how a giant "prison-industrial complex" promotes imprisonment over other solutions.

Alan Elsner paints a terrifying picture of how our prisons really work. You'll hear how race-based gangs control institutions and prey on the weak—and how a rape epidemic has swept the U.S. prison system. You'll discover the plight of 300,000 mentally ill prisoners, many abandoned to suffer with grossly inadequate medical care.

Elsner takes you inside "supermax" prisons that deny inmates human contact and reveals official corruption and brutality within U.S. jails. You'll also learn how prisons help to spread infectious diseases throughout society ... one of the ways the prison crisis touches you, even if you've never had a brush with the law.

  • 2 million prisoners: how it happened and why. Why the United States locks away 6-10 times more people than other Western societies.
  • The other victims. What it's like for convicts' families left on the outside.
  • No place for the sick or weak. Prison medical care: varying from substandard to shocking.
  • Life after prison: the realities of parole. What's supposed to happen ... and what really happens.
  • The "prison-industrial" complex: The hidden politics of imprisonment.

About the Author:

Alan Elsner has written extensively about conditions in jails and prisons, visiting institutions in a dozen states to meet with inmates, lawyers, corrections officers, medical staff, religious volunteers, family members and law enforcement. He has 25 years' experience in journalism, covering stories ranging from the September 11, 2001 attacks on America and the Arab-Israeli conflict to the 2000 presidential election and the end of the Cold War. Elsner is currently National Correspondent for Reuters news agency. For more information, visit .

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