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Prison Bureaucracies in the United States, Mexico, India, and Honduras

Norris, Brian

978 1 4985 3234 1
List price(s):
105.00 USD
70.00 GBP
98.00 EUR

Publication date:
15 February 2018

Short description: 

This book examines how the form and function of prisons in the United States, Mexico, India, and Honduras differ, as evidenced by data gathered from interviews with 150 prison administrators in ten international trips. Despite many variations between the fifteen prisons and four systems in this study, they had strikingly similar long-term paths.

Full description: 

Modern criminal justice institutions globally include police, criminal courts, and prisons. Prisons, unlike courts which developed out of an old aristocratic function and unlike police which developed out of an ancient posse or standing army function, are only about 200 years old and are humanitarian inventions. Prisons, defined as modern institutions that deprive the freedom of individuals who violate societies' most basic norms in lieu of corporal or capital punishment, were near universal at the dawn of the 21st century and their use was expanding globally. The US alone spent $60 billion on prisons in 2014. Prison Bureaucracies addresses two fundamental questions. Do prisons in Christian, Hindu, and Muslim societies separated by space and level of socioeconomic development follow a common evolutionary path? Given that differences in prison structure and performance exist, what factors--resources, laws, leadership, historical accident, institutions, culture--account for differences? Based on more than 150 interviews conducted in ten international trips with prison administrators in 15 male state prisons in the US, Mexico, India, and Honduras, Norris provides ethnographic descriptions of prisons bureaucracies that are immediately recognizable as similar institutions, but that nonetheless possessed distinctive forms and developmental trajectories. Economists and political scientists have argued that incentives provided by institutions matter for good or bad public administration, and this is undeniable in the prisons of this study. But institutional incentives were one factor among many affecting the form and function of the prisons and prison systems of this study.

Table of contents: 

Illustrations Tables Preface Acknowledgments Chapter 1: Modern Prison Bureaucracies: Monuments of a Charitable Disposition? Chapter 2: Poverty among Plenty: The Need for More Knowledge of Modern Prisons and Global Public Administration Chapter 3: The Origins and Structure of Prison Systems in Mexico and the US Chapter 4: The Origins and Structure of Prison Systems in India and Honduras Chapter 5: The Mis-Measure of Prison Performance Chapter 6: A Tyranny of the Educated versus Tudors Resurgent: Prisons in Mexico City and South Carolina Chapter 7: Differences in Bureaucratic Performance in Two Mexican Prisons Chapter 8: Indian Prisons in Delhi and Telangana compared to La Tamara Prison in Honduras Chapter 9: On the Meaning of Prisons Appendix A Appendix B Appendix C Appendix D Appendix E Glossary Bibliography About the Author


Brian Norris is assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the Citadel.




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