Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Are Prisons Obsolete?

A random thought.

I really liked Angela Davis' Are Prisons Obsolete? when I read it. Not only interesting, I also found it quite convincing. The short size, and accessible language also make it a great book to give around, or hold discussions about.

But the title has always puzzled me. If she means obsolete as in gone, quite obviously that goes against the book which is all about the continued growth and expansion of the prison industrial complex. If, on the other, she means obsolete as something that was useful and now we have a better solution, that also has no bearing on her book. She never argues that prisons were once a good idea, and her book is not so great if you are looking for a criminal justice alternative to prisons (indeed, part of the genius of the book is to untie the conceptual connection between prisons and criminals).

It has just always struck me as a silly title. Great, small book though. Read it.