Covering the U.S. prison boom, workplace standards, and public spaces, these new arrivals on bookshelves shed insight on hot topics in public life.
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton University Press, October, 2009) by Mark A. R. Kleiman, professor of public policy
Since the crime explosion of the 1960s, the prison population in the United States has multiplied fivefold, to one prisoner for every hundred adults -- a rate unprecedented in American history and unmatched anywhere in the world. Even as inmate numbers increase, crime has stopped falling, and poor people and minorities still bear the brunt of both crime and incarceration, according to author and crime policy expert Mark A. R. Kleiman.
Simply locking up more people for lengthier terms is no longer a workable crime-control strategy. But, says Kleiman, there has been a revolution -- largely unnoticed by the press -- in controlling crime by means other than brute-force incarceration: substituting swiftness and certainty of punishment for randomized severity, concentrating enforcement resources rather than dispersing them, communicating specific threats of punishment to specific offenders, and enforcing probation and parole conditions to make community corrections a genuine alternative to incarceration. Kleiman explains how the United States got into the current crime and punishment trap and offers advice on how both crime and the ever-growing prison population can be reduced by half within a decade.
Human Services as Complex Organizations (Sage Publications, July 2009) Edited by Yeheskel Hasenfeld, professor of social welfare
Blending theory with application, the new 2009 edition of this popular book highlights the moral choices and accomplishments made by human service organizations. New topics in this edition include the impact of the policy environment, emotional labor, and advocacy along with new perspectives with original studies on organizational ideologies, conditions of work, and diversity and discretion.
The updated collection weaves the latest theoretical and empirical studies in macro theory with contemporary examples from hospitals, schools, social service organizations, mental health centers, and public welfare agencies.
Sidewalks: Conflict and Negotiation Over Public Space (The MIT Press, May 2009) Co-authored by Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of urban planning
Protest space, pubic space -- What do sidewalks mean? In this first book-length analysis of the sidewalk as a distinct public space, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and co-editor Renia Ehrenfeucht (UP Ph.D. ’06) examine the evolution of the American urban sidewalk and trace conflicts that have arisen over its competing uses. They discuss the characteristics of sidewalks as small urban public spaces, and such related issues as the ambiguous boundaries of their “public” status, contestation over specific uses, control and regulations, and the implications for First Amendment speech and assembly rights.
Sidewalks includes historical and contemporary examples as well as case study research and archival data from five cities -- Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Seattle. Contributing authors focus on how the functions and meanings of street activities have shifted and have been negotiated through controls and interventions.
With more people returning to city centers in recent decades, the authors explore the role of the urban sidewalk in the early part of the 21st century, how competing interests can be balanced and what design features and policies are fair, and how planners can promote vibrant public spaces.
Do Prisons Make Us Safer? The Benefits and Costs of the Prison Boom (Russell Sage Foundation, February, 2009) Co-edited by Michael A. Stoll, professor of public policy and urban planning
The U.S. prison system has ballooned to more than two million inmates with annual corrections spending above $64 billion. This new book examines the effects and of this build up. Stoll and co-editor Steven Raphael brought together top researchers from throughout the United States to address an important question: does the marginal crime reduction benefit of increased incarceration outweigh its social and economic costs to society?
The book’s contributors tread new ground in examining the fiscal impact on states, effects on children, and employment prospects for former inmates. Among the researchers’ key findings are: trends in criminal behavior account for only a small fraction of the prison boom, 85 percent of the rise in incarceration can be attributed to “get tough on crime” policies that have increased both the likelihood of a prison sentence and the length of time served, and, while prison time effectively deters and incapacitates criminals in the short term, such long-term benefits as overall crime reduction or individual rehabilitation are less clear cut.
The Gloves-Off Economy: Workplace Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market (Cornell University Press, September 2008) Edited by Chris Tilly, professor of urban planning
Increasing numbers of employers are evading long-established laws and standards designed to protect workers, from the minimum wage to job safety standards to the right to organize. The Gloves-Off Economy includes a wide range of analyses of how employers break, bend and evade workplace laws and standards in the United States, along with proposals for remedying this increasingly serious problem.
The books contributors argue that the “gloves-off economy,” is not just a problem of sweatshops and a minority of small businesses, but affects every corner of the low-wage labor market. In addition, employers who play by the rules are under growing pressure to follow suit, intensifying the search for low-cost business strategies across a wide range of industries and ratcheting up into ever higher reaches of the labor market.
The Gloves-off Economy is the first to provide a comprehensive, integrated analysis of this topic. Contributors include economists, sociologists, labor attorneys, union strategists, and other experts to offer varying perspectives on both the problem and the creative solutions currently being explored in a wide range of communities and industries.