Few are aware that Eugene Debs (1855-1927), the best loved socialist agitator of his time, wrote one of the most insightful books on prisons. Debs's only full-length book, WALLS & BARS is a lively memoir as well as a stirring critique, drawing on his own prison experiences....
|Title||:||Walls and Bars: Prisons and Prison Life in the Land of the Free|
|Number of Pages||:||264 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Walls and Bars: Prisons and Prison Life in the Land of the Free Reviews
This book was purchased as a gift for me at the Heartland Cafe store in the East Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago's north side. The Heartland, operated by Michael James and Katie Hogan, is a little bit of San Francisco in the Midwest, their store offering an ever-changing variety of products from around the world, including progressive books and magazines.Eugene Victor Debs was, with Norman Thomas a generation later, the persona of American socialism. A founding member both of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World, he held together and articulated the various elements of progressivism: Christian utopianism, Marxism, Syndicalism, Anarchism--a combination which, with a strong dose of Jeffersonian populism, offered a chance for the United States to democratically evolve into a humane social democracy until the first world war and the red scare engineered by Wilson, Palmer and Hoover effectively crushed the movement by wholesale intimidation, imprisonments and deportations.While I grew up revering Norman Thomas, Dad's choice for President in 1948, I later learned about his even more morally impressive predecessor, Eugene Debs, Grandfather's hero at the beginning of the century, and proceeded to read the standard biographies and histories. Once I even met an elderly woman who had herself met Debs as a young woman--my only living contact with the man.Walls and Bars is Debs' account of his second lengthy prison sentence. While it gives some information about his own personal experiences in jail, the emphasis is on prisons and prisoners in general and the relationships between the crimes that lead to incarceration and those which lead to success under capitalism.
Jeremy Bentham for theory of incarceration int the use of the Panopticon. Foucault for theory and history of discipline and punishment. 'Walls & Bars' by Debs for the results of the evolution to the worlds greatest and largest prison industry. A timeless work on the absurdity of the prison system in the United States.
Walls and Bars is a memoir and commentary written by Eugene V. Debs after his release from federal prison. For violating the Espionage Act during World War I for making a speech denouncing the Great War and the atrocities it commits, Debs was sentenced to serve a 10-year stint in federal prison, which he served a short portion of it in West Virginia before serving the bulk of his sentence in Atlanta. This book chronicles his time in these facilities, and, in small part, time he spent in other county jails earlier in his life. Primarily, Debs reviews the human condition of his fellow prisoners and how imprisonment affects not only the lives of the imprisoned but their families. He also examines the abysmal conditions of the prisons themselves and how prison rules and these conditions debase those incarcerated into becoming prisoners all of their lives.While not hard on statistics, Debs provides a strong first-hand account of late 19th- and early 20th-century prison life and conditions. Debs is a Socialist, which was back before Senator Joe McCarthy turned it into a dirty word in the United States, and this book has a lot of democratic socialism rhetoric in it. Debs also proposes a lot of prison reforms in his book, and many of these are common standards today but were absent during his time.Much of this book repeats itself: Debs tells and retells the story that sent him to prison as much as he tells, summarizes, and repeats the plight of prisoners and prisons; he extolls the virtues of a socialist world and how it would eliminate prisons entirely. Sometimes one could feel this repetition was ad nauseum, and other times one could feel that the repetition was meant to drive home the points about how bad prison conditions were at the time. It was, really, the only quibble I had with reading this book.Hans Mattick, who writes the introduction to this edition, provides useful context and encapsulation of this book before the reader launches into Debs writing. This book is useful reading not only for fans of history but for those who make a study of prisons and their relationship to society.
I read this as part of some research for a book I'm planning to write. It's an excellent book for anyone interested in prison reform. What's amazing to me is that although this book was written nearly a hundred years ago, practically everything he says about the prison system still holds true today.
I read the original 1920s edition and therefore missed Dellinger's introduction which I am sure is apt.