King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center in partnership with the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association presents a talk by Dr. Robert Perkinson, American Studies/UH Mānoa.
Prospects for meaningful criminal justice reform remain surprisingly bright despite recent moves to reinvigorate the War on Drugs, amplify prosecutorial power, and expand immigrant detention. The United States, over the past forty years, has assembled the largest penal system in the history of democracy—it is entrenched, expensive, and bolstered by powerful special interests. Nonetheless, the politics of race, crime, and punishment are now more favorable to progressive policy making, particularly at the state and local levels, than at any time since the 1960s. By understanding the root causes of mass incarceration and by launching viable, community-driven reform campaigns, advocates and organizers may come to regard our current political climate as a moment of opportunity.
Robert Perkinson is an associate professor of American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Republic, and The Nation. His book Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire (Metropolitan/Henry Holt) won the PEN American Center’s John Kenneth Galbraith Award for best book of non-fiction published in 2009 and 2010.
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