Book Review: The modern prison paradox: Politics, punishment, and social community

Date01 December 2017
Published date01 December 2017
AuthorBrianne A. Kane
Subject MatterBook Reviews
narratives (see the discussion of parents subject to violence b y minor children as described in
Chapter 4).
The strength of the volume lies in addressing a large number of audiences connecting several
themes concurrently throughout the volume. Readers confront the redefinition of victims’ roles in
the study of crime and recognizing identities of ‘‘hidden’’ victims. Volume contributors also exam-
ine rehabilitation as an issue confronting global criminal justice systems (e.g., Chapter 6). Specif-
ically, several chapters address the impact on victims of the contrasts between goals of criminal and
civil justice systems. Finally, with discussion regarding these previou s two themes, readers are
challenged to reenvision legal policies and international conventions protecting the human and legal
rights of victims writ large. The contributors succeed in communicating complicated and often
convoluted matters, rendering them accessible to readers with differing levels of experience with
critical victimology.
Case studies from a variety of international and legal contexts provide discussion material for
upper-level university curricula in comparative victimology. Readers (be they students or profes-
sionals) are challenged to appreciate the broad application of critical theory to instances of genocide,
terrorism, and mass violence (Chapters 8, 10, and 11); to young men trapped in an incarceration
system who battle histories of lifelong trauma (Chapter 3); and to the history of key cases against
women in the last century (Chapter 9). Readers will also find value in its cross-cultural comparison
of procedural justice, opening a space where critical examination of victims’ experiences frame
mandates for social justice. Future editions or companion volumes would benefit from examples
originating from a greater number of international contexts, particularly those outs ide of Euro-
American criminal justice models. Just as crimi nal justice practitioners and students should be
expected to develop comparative understandings of global systems of justice, they should also feel
a similar demand to understand the process of victimization in a variety of social, political, and
economic contexts.
Lerman, A. E. (2013).
The modern prison paradox: Politics, punishment, and social community. New York, NY: Cambridge University
Press, xi, 308 p., ISBN: 9781107613850.
Reviewed by: Brianne A. Kane, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA
DOI: 10.1177/0734016816684924
During a time when mass incarceration is a large concern in the United States, very little research
has focused on an experience that impacts thousands of citizens each year. In the literature that has
studied the prison experience, the focus is typically on inmates, despite the many other populations
involved in the experience. In her book The Modern Prison Paradox, Amy E. Lerman argues that the
prison shift from rehabilitation to punishment has had detrimental effects on inmates, prison staff,
and society more broadly.
Although her background is in political science and she currently works as the PhD program
faculty chair and assistant professor of public policy at the University of California—Berkeley,
Lerman has a strong interest in the field of criminal justice. After volunteering as a tutor at the San
Quentin State Prison, Lerman began to develop questions regarding the corrections system, some of
which she attempts to answer in this book. These questions include (1) how has the shift in correc-
tional goals impacted the prison experience, (2) how does the security level of the prison impact the
412 Criminal Justice Review 42(4)

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