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Social Science Penology

The Case for Penal Abolition

edited by W. Gordon West & Ruth Morris

Canadian Scholars' Press Inc.
Initial publish date
May 2000
Penology, Criminology
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2000
    List Price

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Out of print

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While we live in an era of intense concern about crime and victimization, heralded by calls for increasingly harsh punitive approaches, it is increasingly clear that more harm is inflicted on people by corporations and nation states than by individuals.
The Case for Penal Abolition marshals convincing arguments from a number of scholars and activists not only for abolishing imprisonment, but overhauling our entire penal injustice system. The movement for penal abolition is as old as prisons themselves, which from their beginning have failed to achieve any of their stated objects: individual and general deterrence, rehabiliation, and restoring a sense of justice. Given the failure of penality in addressing individual ("street") crime, how then should penal abolitionists respond to corporate ("suite") crime? Abolitionists have traditionally opposed increased control. Should they now consider increased control for these new kinds of criminality?
The Case for Penal Abolition challenges us all — theorists, lawyers, justice system workers, activists, inmates, victims, and citizens — to move away from failing penal systems towards a new democratic global humanity in resolving human conflicts and legal issues.

About the authors

W. Gordon West is a political and community organizer. He has taught and researched at several Canadian universities, including the Centre of Criminology at the University of Toronto. His publications include: Children's Rights: Legal and Educational Issues; Young Offenders and the State: A Canadian Perspective on Delinquency; and Modernazación: Un Desafio Para La Educación. He is currently Research Associate at Rittenhouse: A New Vision.

W. Gordon West's profile page

Ruth Morris is a leading authority on new approaches to criminal justice. She is a Quaker who has worked as a university professor and social activist for more than twenty years, helping to build better local, national, and international justice systems. Her books include Crumbling Walls: Why Prisons Fail; Street People Speak; Listen Ontario! Faith Communities Speak Out; and Penal Abolition: The Practical Choice. She is currently president of Rittenhouse: A New Vision.

Ruth Morris' profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Penal Abolition dispels the myths of justice within the criminal justice system. It provides a foundation for new ways to solve old conflicts. Clear, brilliant and interesting, the book is an excellent teaching tool in the fields of law and criminology."— “Monika Platek, Warsaw University, Poland

Other titles by Ruth Morris