Self-Defense & Violence Prevention Blog

news and commentary about security, self-defense, and topics like violent crime prevention and bullying

“Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Angela Y. Davis

Last night, I finished reading the book Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis, which someone had recommended to me after I wrote a short article about why I think society does not need prisons.

The book was not what I had expected, but I still like it very much. Rather than speculate on alternatives to prison in the book, Davis focuses on the history of prison and how it became the dominant form of punishment. She also heavily addresses the extreme amounts of racism and sexism in the prison system both throughout its history and still today.

People who have not already thought much about abolishing the prison system will probably find the book even more interesting and eye-opening than I did.

It disgusted me to learn about the amount of sexual abuse in female prisons, especially regarding the guards’ legal use of strip searches (including cavity searches) to sexually victimize the female prisoners.

Davis does a good job explaining the prison-industrial complex in the book. That includes the many ways that corporations and profiteers make money by having prisons built and filled with people.

She keeps a historical and factual tone. I think it makes the book much more powerful than one filled with opinions and suggestions, especially about an unconventional idea such as prison abolishment. While reading the book, I could tell that Davis intended to spark critical thinking about the subject rather than just tell people what to think.

Overall, I recommend the book, especially considering that it is so short. It took me two nights to read and only a few hours total. So it is easily worth your time since it will not take much of your time. Also, it’s an important topic because, with about 1 in 100 of its citizens behind bars, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world both in number and percentage, and other countries have begun adopting the United States incarceration methods.

What do you think?

By | March 29th, 2008 | SHOW COMMENT(1)


I am the creator of this website, which I use to post about self-defense and violence prevention. I have two children who I love so much. I want them to be proud of me, and I hope what I do here contributes to that. Please let me know what you think about my posts by leaving a comment below. I throw my opinions around pretty openly here, but I am totally open to opposing viewpoints and a productive discussion. So please post a comment. And follow me on Twitter: @scottmhughes

One Response

  1. TT LoanShark says

    I think the very least that prisons do is keep the wolves away from the sheep. If you’re against such punishment, I always say, well, would you like a convicted murderer moving in next door with you?


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