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N. C. Press Hirsch AJ. 1992. The Rise of the Penitentiary: Prisons and Punishment in Early America. New Haven, CT: Yale Human Rights Watch. 2003. S. prisons and offenders with mental illness. HRW Rep. 1564322904, Human Rights Watch, New York, NY. pdf Nelken D. 1994. : The future of comparative criminology. In The Futures of Criminology, ed. D Nelken, pp. 220–43. London: Sage Nisbett R, Cohen D. 1996. Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South. Boulder, CO: Westview Padoa-Schioppa A, ed.
This author has argued that the harshness of American punishment is in part the product of a pernicious pattern in American political economy. Criminal punishment in the United States is the subject of democratic politics. Politicians often run on tough-on-crime platforms. Judges and prosecutors are often elected ofﬁcials, who in effect also run for ofﬁce on tough-on-crime platforms. In these respects, criminal punishment is signiﬁcantly more politicized in the United States than it is in countries such as France or Germany, where judges and prosecutors pursue advancement strictly through bureaucratic career paths, and where the criminal justice profession maintains better control both of the penal code and of the process of criminal punishment (Whitman 2003).
Some of those connections follow directly from the fact that prisons remain institutions of labor. Inmates work, in most modern prisons, and their labor is generally priced very cheaply. This means that prison labor competes with low-wage labor in the outside world. But the place of prisons in the economy of low-wage labor goes beyond that. Indeed, some powerful arguments have been made by scholars who believe that the deep structures of criminal punishment have to do precisely with the economics of low-wage labor and unemployment.