Since 1980, the number of people in U.S. prisons has increased more than 450%. Despite a crime rate that has been falling steadily for decades, California has led the way in this explosion, with what a state analyst called 'the biggest prison building project in the history of the world'. "Golden Gulag" provides the first detailed explanation for that buildup by looking at how political and economic forces, ranging from global to local, conjoined to produce the prison boom. In an informed and impassioned account, Ruth Wilson Gilmore examines this issue through statewide, rural, and urban perspectives to explain how the expansion developed from surpluses of finance capital, labor, land, and state capacity. Detailing crises that hit California's economy with particular ferocity, she argues that defeats of radical struggles, weakening of labor, and shifting patterns of capital investment have been key conditions for prison growth.
The results - a vast and expensive prison system, a huge number of incarcerated young people of color, and the increase in punitive justice such as the 'three strikes' law - pose profound and troubling questions for the future of California, the United States, and the world. "Golden Gulag" provides a rich context for this complex dilemma, and at the same time challenges many cherished assumptions about who benefits and who suffers from the state's commitment to prison expansion.
Publisher: University of California Press
Number of pages: 412
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 210 x 140 x 25 mm
"A magnificent analysis of the political economy of super-incarceration and the slave plantations that California calls prisons." - Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear "Golden Gulag is a deeply necessary book for our times. Gilmore digs beneath the easy answers to the more troubling causes of a political consensus that prisons are the only solution to all urban and rural ills." - Nayan Shah, author of Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco's Chinatown"