Jail : Managing the Underclass in American Society

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Description Table of Contents Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! In Stock.

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The jail : managing the underclass in American society in SearchWorks catalog

Book Format: Choose an option. Add to Cart. Product Highlights Combining extensive interviews with his own experience as an inmate, John Irwin constructs a powerful and graphic description of the big-city jail. Unlike prisons, which incarcerate convicted felons, jails primarily confine arrested persons not yet charged or convicted of any serious crime.


Irwin argues that rather than controlling the disreputable, jail disorients and degrades these people, indoctrinating new recruits to the rabble class. In a forceful conclusion, Irwin addresses the issue of jail reform and the matter of social control demanded by society.

About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Reissued more than twenty years after its initial publication with a new foreword by Jonathon Simon, The Jail remains an extraordinary account of the role jails play in America's crisis of mass incarceration. Specifications Publisher University of California Press. Customer Reviews. Write a review. The scale was based on the revised codes criminal laws of Oregon and Washington.

Irwin put forth the argument that jails are occupied predominantly by a rabble class of inmates who have committed mostly petty crimes or no crimes at all.

He defined the rabble class as those who are detached and disreputable persons who do not fit into conventional society and are irksome and offensive lower class members. It is not so much Irwin's definition of rabble that is at issue, rather, it is his contention that the nation's jails are populated predominantly by persons whose "crime" is that they are "offensive," rather than lawbreakers involved in serious criminal acts. According to Irwin, the primary function of the police is to manage, by various means, this disreputable underclass.

The data gathering procedures used by Irwin were not entirely satisfactory, casting doubt on the accuracy of his claims.

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Accordingly, additional inquiry into jail populations is in order. The data uncovered in the present study suggests that, contrary to Irwin's thesis, many people arrested, booked, and jailed as a result of committing fairly serious crimes. This conclusion was true for the six jails and the 1, persons whose records were studied. The research suggests that Irwin's argument is not true for jails everywhere and that jails here do not seem to be filled mainly with persons whose primary problem is their offensive behavior.

Instead, jails house a majority who have committed fairly serious acts of lawbreaking.