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Articles by Russ Immarigeon

Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time, by James Kilgore (The New Press, 2015). 272 pages, $17.95 (paperback)

Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time, by James Kilgore (The New Press, 2015). 272 pages, $17.95 (paperback)

Book review by Russ Immarigeon

“Mass incarceration” has become a term that is quickly slipping into the everyday consciousness of ordinary Americans. In this welcome volume, social activist James Kilgore offers an excellent introduction to the emergence and emergency of mass incarceration. Overall, Understanding Mass Incarceration is a useful guide, for practitioners as well as observers of criminal justice, to this historical phenomenon.

Kilgore, who teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, served six years in prison, where he drafted three novels that have since been published. A frequent contributor to print and electronic sources of information on criminal justice reform, Kilgore is an educator who communicates easily and effectively with his readers.

Understanding Mass Incarceration describes the basics and the faces of mass incarceration. The statistics of mass incarceration are monumental and widely reported. Kilgore introduces them, but, more pointedly, he focuses on the relationship between the “Lock ‘Em Up and Throw Away the Key” movement and the growth of popular support for a rapidly expanding prison estate. He covers the ...