Sunday, November 14, 2010

Texas Tough: Author to speak in Austin

Michele Deitch asked me to post this, so here you go:
From the William Wayne Justice Center:

Join us for a book talk by Robert Perkinson, author of Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire

Monday, November 22, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. in the Law School’s Sheffield Room

Texas Tough is a critically acclaimed history of imprisonment, race, and politics from slavery to the present, with an emphasis on Texas. Drawing on ethnographical, archival, legal, and legislative research, Perkinson argues that the history of American criminal justice is a more Southern story than most have acknowledged, and that the politics of race and reaction have played a prominent role in the expansion of incarceration. The New York Times Book Review called Texas Tough “a searching history of American incarceration . . . an alarming indictment, built on passionate and exhaustive research.”

For more information about the book, see For additional event information, see here.

Presented by the Law School’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law and UT-Austin’s Institute for Historical Studies

Cosponsored by the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, the Department of American Studies, the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, the Department of History, the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, and the Law School’s American Journal of Criminal Law, Criminal Law Association, and Thurgood Marshall Legal Society


Anonymous said...

"The politics of race and reaction have played a prominent role in the expansion of incarceration?" Oh please! Better get out your chest waders, Grits! The liberal, race baiting bullshit is about to get really deep!

Anonymous said...

I guess some lack the intellectual capacity to enable them to see things in any other way other than in terms of liberal vs. conservative. I swear, it makes me wonder if some people have ever had an original thought.

Anonymous said...

Student activism originally kindled Perkinson's desire to become a historian, and he remains committed to political engagement beyond the academy.

Former student radicals predominate in the university classrooms so students receive only one point of view. Funny how these campus radicals - now professors - were all cut by the same cookie cutter.

Anonymous said...

Yes, because "conservative" academics never involve themselves in activism beyond the academy.

If you object to his book's argument or its evidence, then say so, and quit pussyfooting around it with cowardly innuendo.


Anonymous said...


I'm quite sure these guys haven't read the book. Reading it probably requires more than a 3rd grade reading level.

Anonymous said...

This is coming from a conservative who watches Glen Beck and listens to Rush when he has the time. Yes, 5:21, in politics there is a lot of race baiting bullshit that goes on. And, yes 9:44, many university professors are liberal activists.

However, don't be so quick to paint every issue with the same broad brush. The criminal justice system is a little different from politics in general. And, if you do a little research, and spend a little time thinking about the subject, you will see that race is an issue when it comes to the criminal justice system. I don't in any way consider someone pointing out the obvious and trying to bring attention to a reall problem as "race baiting." It doesn't matter whether the author is a liberal or a professor if he's right on the issue and his position is clearly supported by the facts.

Maybe that's a difference in some who like to use political labels. Some, both on the liberal side and the conservative side are incapable of thinking for themselves, analyzing and issue, and coming to a conclusion on their own, independent of political ideology. Whereas, others are unable to think for themselves and just react to any issue with the ideological framework they've learned from listening to others.

Back to the criminal justice system. I haven't read the book in question so, unlike, 5:21 and 9:44 who feel they can comment on it without reading it, I can't. However, I have read some things on the issue. If you look at the "Black Codes" that were enacted after the Civil War and compare those to the current system, especially the drug laws, you do see some similarities. I think a good argument can be made that at least since the Civil War the criminal justice system has been used as a tool by one group to oppress another group. At one time that was based mostly on race, but now I think its more socioeconomic. It's an interesting and complicated subject so I won't go on.

Those who label themselves as conservatives or liberals and attack every issue based strictly on ideology, without applying any thought or analysis to the issue, give the words conservative, or liberal, whichever the case may be a bad name. Furthermore, it just plain makes you look ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Charles from Tulia commenting:

Disclaimer--I have not read "Texas Tough" so I cannot comment on that book.

Acknowledgement--I am a liberal, so I am somewhat biased.

I have had some experience with the criminal justice system in Texas, enough to know that all is not well in this regard in the Lone Star State.

And I have read "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander. Her critique does not focus on Texas specfically, but on the nation as a whole. Those who deny that there is a racial factor in the criminal justice system should read this. And I will refrain from comments about the educational or intelligence level of commenters on this blog, from the right or from the left.

Don said...

8:04--this is a good post and I agree with most of it. However, are you saying that Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh are people who weigh each issue carefully, consider both sides, and don't attack or endorse based on ideology? I surely couldn't agree with that!

Anonymous said...

"However, are you saying that Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh are people who weigh each issue carefully, consider both sides, and don't attack or endorse based on ideology?"

I didn't say that. I only said I listen to them. Beck is constantly reminding people not to just take his word for things but to research them and come up with their own opinions. Both have an element of entertainment and you have to keep that in mind. They both provide a lot of good information but, no one should just adopt their views without doing their own research. The same goes for those on the other side like Olbermann and Maddow. We have too many people who just don't go to the trouble to think for themselves, on both sides.

Anonymous said...

I have read Texas Tough, The Rise of America’s Prison Empire by Robert Perkinson and The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in The Age Of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. I think both books are very right on. Why do I say right on? As an Engineer I’m a very logical thinker, things have to make since. If it’s politically correct or not, it has to at least make logical since. The legal system makes logical since, I’m relatively a Talmudic scholar. However the way its implemented today is anything but logical. These 2 books have given me an understanding of our criminal justice system and clearly uncovers some interestings uses over the last 4 decades. Looking at our legal system as a way to continue the control of Freedmen and other undesirables makes more since then out of touch legislators or criminalizing social problems.
Unlike Raped By The State by Randal Chance that only scratched the surface on a small segment of time in tyc’s lengthy history of state sponsored child abuse, it never offered a logical explanation for tyc’s move from the physical abuse culture that dominated the Gatesville era to the sexual abuse culture that dominates today’s tyc. Chance eluded to it but never really nailed it. The Rise of America’s Prison Empire by Robert Perkinson and The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in The Age Of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander provides the time line, the edicts, and the reasons why our police, prosecutors, legislators, prisons, parole boards, and government aid policies are configured the way they are. To control the descendents of America’s former slaves.
I have a logical explanation for tyc’s move from physical abuse to sexual abuse but it’s not politically correct either.


Helga Dill, Chair, TX CURE said...

Everyone needs to read this book to get the REAL picture of incarceration in the US which leads the world in numbers ! And yes, Robert is right on,it took him 10 years of research to get it right. I have contributed some of my own 10 year experience with the TX Criminal Justice system to the book . It is not a liberal or conservative matter , it is simply a human one .