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The American prison system has grown tenfold in thirty years, while crime rates have been relatively flat: 2 million people are behind bars on any given day, more prisoners than in any other country in the world — half a million more than in Communist China, and the largest prison expansion the world has ever known.
In Going Up The River, Joseph Hallinan gets to the heart of America’s biggest growth industry, a self-perpetuating prison-industrial complex that has become entrenched without public awareness, much less voter consent. He answers, in an extraordinary way, the essential question: What, in human terms, is the price society pays? He has looked for answers to that question in every corner of the “prison nation,” a world far off the media grid — the America of struggling towns and cities left behind by the information age and desperate for jobs and money. Hallinan shows why the more prisons societies build, the more prisoners they create, placating everyone at the expense of the voiceless prisoners, who together make up one of the largest migrations in America’s history.