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Breaking the PendulumThe Long Struggle Over Criminal Justice$
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Philip Goodman, Joshua Page, and Michelle Phelps

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199976058

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199976058.001.0001

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Deconstructing the Carceral State

Deconstructing the Carceral State

(p.95) 5 Deconstructing the Carceral State
Breaking the Pendulum

Philip Goodman

Joshua Page

Michelle Phelps

Oxford University Press

The latter part of the twentieth century was marked by dramatic shifts in punishment; in particular, the rise of mass incarceration. Yet, instead of a wholesale transformation from a relatively lenient, rehabilitative criminal justice to harsh and exclusively punitive punishment, this period is better understood as the repackaging and reformulating of existing penal logics and practices. Rehabilitation did not die off; it transformed, becoming increasingly neoliberal and neoconservative. Further, throughout the 1980s and 1990s and into the early twenty-first century, actors struggled against the hardening of punishment in areas such as sentencing laws and expanding use of solitary confinement. Contestation produced fissures that cracked open as the economy tanked, crime rates steadily declined, and politicians on both sides of the aisle embraced reform. This struggle continues today, even as criminal justice reform takes root.

Keywords:   punishment, penal development, Rockefeller Drug Laws, New York, rehabilitation, mass incarceration, punitive, reform, solitary confinement, sentencing

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