Overcoming obstacles to abolition and challenging the myths of imprisonment

Drake, Deborah H. and Scott, David (2021). Overcoming obstacles to abolition and challenging the myths of imprisonment. In: Coyle, M. and Scott, D. eds. The Routledge International Handbook of Penal Abolition. London: Routledge, pp. 411–420.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429425035-58


This chapter is focussed on the obstacles and myths preventing the acknowledgement of the insidious role of penal confinement in maintaining social and economic inequalities. What attracts people to the continued use of the prison? Why do prisons have such a stronghold on the hearts and minds of the general public as the only means by which society can maintain order and a system of justice? Many previous critics of the prison have systematically dissected the apparent functions of the prison, juxtaposing its supposed and symbolic purposes against its harsh and destructive realities. Consequently, the authors consider where the debates on the prison keep getting stuck, why human societies seem to be unable to move beyond the prison and what lines of argument might need to be followed for prisons as social institutions to become obsolete.

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