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The Furnace of AfflictionPrisons and Religion in Antebellum America$
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Jennifer Graber

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834572

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877838_graber

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(p.1) Introduction
The Furnace of Affliction

Jennifer Graber

University of North Carolina Press

This book begins by arguing that America's high incarceration rate prompts impassioned debate. Politicians and activists, editorialists and community leaders consider a range of issues. They discuss the severity of drug crime sentencing, the ethics of for-profit prisons, and the inordinate number of racial minorities behind bars. The focus on these admittedly important issues, however, has obscured the ongoing discussion about what prisons should do. For more than two hundred years, Americans have debated the prison's purpose. Should it be retributive or reformative? Do we put people in prison to punish them or to rehabilitate them? Or is it a little of both? In 2010, California officials considered releasing thousands of inmates in order to balance the budget. The human cost—counted in broken families and decimated communities—can hardly be calculated.

Keywords:   incarceration rate, politicians, activists, editorialists, community leaders, drug crime sentencing

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