Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

Regular price $ 17.99

by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law, forward by Michelle Alexander

New Press

09/07/2021, paperback

SKU: 9781620976975


"But what does it mean -- really -- to celebrate reforms that convert your home into your prison?" -- Michelle Alexander

Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. Mandated psychiatric treatment. Data driven surveillance. Extended probation. These are some of the key alternatives held up as cost effective substitutes for jails and prisons. But in a searing, "cogent critique" (Library Journal), Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal that many of these so-called reforms actually weave in new strands of punishment and control, bringing new populations who would not otherwise have been subject to imprisonment under physical control by the state.

Whether readers are seasoned abolitionists or are newly interested in sensible alternatives to retrograde policing and criminal justice policies and approaches, this highly praised book offers "a wealth of critical insights" that will help readers "tread carefully through the dizzying terrain of a world turned upside down" and "make sense of what should take the place of mass incarceration" (The Brooklyn Rail).

With a foreword by Michelle Alexander, Prison by Any Other Name exposes how a kinder narrative of reform is effectively obscuring an agenda of social control, challenging us to question the ways we replicate the status quo when pursuing change, and offering a bolder vision for truly alternative justice practices.


"A cogent critique... Their impassioned yet evidence-based polemic exposes flaws in much of the perceived wisdom around the issue. Policy makers and criminal justice reform advocates should consider this bracing account a must-read." -- Publishers Weekly

"Abolishing police and prisons requires imaginative solutions; Schenwar and Law present them in ways that will make readers rethink their understanding of the carceral system." -- Bitch

"Drawing on statistics, detailed research and personal anecdotes from people whose lives have been affected by incarceration, Prison by Any Other Name is both eye-opening and challenging. Encouraging readers to center the human lives caught in the broken, racist system in place today, this is crucial reading for anyone with a mind for justice." -- Shelf Awareness

"In this timely work, Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law offer us exciting new perspectives that reveal abolition to be the most reasonable path toward a just future." -- Angela Y. Davis, author of Are Prisons Obsolete?

"Reminds us powerfully, soberingly, and unequivocally, that we simply can't end today's carceral crisis by calling for reforms that are still, fundamentally, punitive." -- Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water

"This powerful book is essential reading for everyone dedicated to building a society where prisons are obsolete." -- Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body 

"Grassroots organizing and policy demands will take inspiration and shape from these pages' which show how an insatiable system sucks time and money from individuals' households' and communities. The detailed stories about real people highlight abolition's poignant urgency." -- Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Golden Gulag

"Beware of New Coke: the same product offered with new packaging. Prison by Any Other Name sounds an alarm about the extension of the prison through 'alternative to incarceration' projects. It demonstrates that these 'alternatives' continue the work of imprisonment in different ways. It also points us towards a way out of criminalization. The book is an important addition to the new canon of work focused on mass criminalization in the U.S. READ. THIS. BOOK." -- Mariame Kaba, founder and director of Project NIA and author of We Do This 'Till We Free Us

"Prison by Any Other Name is the book we need right now: clear, full of compelling examples, readable and convincing. It is the kind of book that activists and organizations can use as a tool, and that teachers can use in classrooms. If you care about policing and imprisonment and want to be part of making change. this book is a must-read." -- Dean Spade, author of Normal Life

About the Contributors:

Maya Schenwar is the editor-in-chief of Truthout. She is co-author (with Victoria Law) of Prison by Any Other Name (The New Press) as well as the author of Locked Down, Locked Out and the co-editor of the anthology Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? She lives in Chicago.

Victoria Law is a freelance journalist and the co-author (with Maya Schenwar) of Prison by Any Other Name (The New Press) as well as the author of Resistance Behind Bars and co-editor of Don't Leave Your Friends Behind. She is a co-founder of NYC Books Through Bars and lives in New York.

Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar. She is a former Ford Foundation Senior Fellow and Soros Justice Fellow, has clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, and has run the ACLU of Northern California's Racial Justice Project. Alexander is a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary and an opinion columnist for the New York Times. The author of The New Jim Crow and The New Jim Crow: Young Readers' Edition (both from The New Press), she lives in Columbus, Ohio.