Corrections: A Critical Approach

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Welch, Michael (2011) Corrections: A Critical Approach, 3rd Edition. London & New York: Routledge.

Welch's Corrections is the only text to take a critical approach to the field of corrections. This unique and refreshing text encourages students to think analytically about punishment. By establishing a greater social context, corrections is presented against the backdrop of social forces -- namely, political economic, religious, and technological forces that affect the corrections system. Students gain an understanding of the corrections system through the author's critical and issues-oriented presentation of materials. The book consistently introduces clear, meaningful, and exciting examples illustrating various issues and concepts.

Table of Contents THIRD EDITION

Chapter 1. Introducing A Critical Approach
Chapter 2. History of Punishment and Prisons
Chapter 3. America's Penal Past
Chapter 4. Theoretical Penology
Chapter 5. Social World of Prisoners
Chapter 6. Women in Corrections
Chapter 7. Juveniles in Corrections
Chapter 8. Minorities in Corrections
Chapter 9. Assaults and Riots
Chapter 10: Death Penalty
Chapter 11: Jails and Detention
Chapter 12. Prisoners Rights
Chapter 13. Alternatives to Incarceration
Chapter 14. Working in Prison
Chapter 15. The Corrections Industry
Chapter 16. War on Drugs
Chapter 17. War on Terror


"Michael Welch in Corrections: A Critical Approach 3rd edition makes some very valuable contributions to our understanding of corrections. The work hopes to offer, and I believe it does so, a critical thinking exercise that draws attention to the comparative nature of corrections, work in the field of corrections, and cultural penology. The basic premise is that we cannot accept the correctional system on its face value because the system is too crowded, too violent, and too expensive to ignore, especially if there are alternatives that are equally effective.

Welch makes use of various concepts in this work including the new penology, elements of historicism, radical criminology, economics, sociology of prisoners, women, juveniles and minorities, the critical correctional perspective, and institutional violence through state control and oppression. He also addresses the death penalty, jails, prisoner rights and correctional alternatives. Lastly, there is a discussion of correctional officers, privatization, and what is referred to as drug offenders and the war on terror.

The book opens with a discussion of the critical approach to the new penology by considering the huge cost of maintaining high prison populations when, at the same time, the crime rate is falling. This strategy enhances social control through the employment of risk assessment devices directed toward high-risk and dangerous groups, especially the underclass; it is thought best to control them in prison. This process effectively racializes punishment, establishes upper-class hegemony, and opens the door for the abuses of the privatized prison experience. This chapter ends with an imaginative and important discussion on cultural criminology and what is understood as penal spectatorship, as most clearly seen in penal tourism which is juxtaposed against Foucault's model for surveillance.

The correctional enterprise is a huge industry with many jobs connected to the current methods of operation. There are well-funded vested interests that want to ensure prison populations are kept high despite the problems associated with them. There is little regard for the impact of imprisonment on the poor and on the offenders' communities."
-- Edward W. Sieh. Associate Professor, Lasell College, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books []

"The author has made a good text even better through several significant additions to the original book. I applaud the addition of international material and firmly believe this offers a comparative base for students that has been lacking. It is especially good to see additions focused on the experiential aspects of working inside a correctional facility; these boxed sections add a sense of reality to the academic presentation and will be very helpful to anyone considering a career in the field."
--Peter M. Carlson, Christopher Newport University, Retired Assistant Director-Federal Bureau of Prisons

"I would be hard-pressed to identify another corrections textbook that I would seriously consider adopting over this one. The updated material is welcomed. The strength of the book remains, however, its critical approach to corrections and the attention it gives to history, ideology, and the ways in which social forces influence punishment."
--Jeanne Flavin, Fordham University

"I am impressed. The inclusion of the international comparisons is priceless in our efforts to get students to see corrections in the context of the rest of the world. I am also a fan of Professor Welch's efforts to increase the numeracy skills of students by his addition of the "Critical Use of Data" section of the book. I selected the first edition because it provided my students with a thoughtful and detailed look at corrections without all of the 'hype' and over-reliance on sensational stories. The new edition is even better. This is the kind of text our students should be using in corrections."
-- Bruce Bikle, California State University-Sacramento


"Michael Welch's Corrections: A Critical Approach is such a breath of fresh air. It contains 15 neatly packed chapters, each of which violates the formula for conventional textbook writing. Welch-a former correctional worker himself-covers diverse and important topics . . . Welch's book deserves to be archived along such important critical works on the contemporary prison as John Irwin's and James Austin's It's About Time: America's Imprisonment Binge, Jerome Miller's Search and Destroy: African-American Males in the Criminal Justice System, Brian MacLean's and Hal Pepinsky's We Who Would Take No Prisoners, and James Marquart and associates The Rope, the Chair, and the Needle."
-- Professor Mark S. Hamm, Indiana State University. Quoted in Social Pathology.

"Corrections: A Critical Approach is a more complete textbook than its more traditional competitors in that it goes beyond the 'criminal justice systems model' and includes extensive coverage of both traditional and critical perspectives . . . Those who bemoan the fact that most textbooks attempt to be 'objective' and lack passionate concern for their subject matter are likely to applaud this work. It is a highly engaging alternative textbook that is capable of stimulating significant discussion and debate among students . . . It may well emerge as the major alternative to traditional corrections texts."
--Professor Geoffrey Moss, State University of New York. Quoted in Journal of Criminal Justice Education.

"Where most texts describe the world, this one seeks to analyze and criticize it. Yet the book is not light in substance. Every chapter is well researched and exhaustively documented, leaving the reader with a great deal of confidence in Welch's knowledge and the reliability of his perspective."
--Todd R. Clear, President of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and Distinguished Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Quoted in Federal Probation: A Journal of Correctional Philosophy and Practice.

"To confine praise for Corrections: A Critical Approach to its usefulness as an information-packed reference, however, would to the book a grave disservice. For both students and scholars with only a passing knowledge of what a critical approach to criminal justice entails, this book provides a thought-provoking and balanced introduction . . . Welch expresses a desire to demystify the objectives, processes, and outcomes of correctional intervention while offering alternative interpretations and solutions. In presenting a critical examination of corrections and criminal justice policies, Michael Welch has achieved his goal admirably."
--Professor Jeanne Flavin, Fordham University. Quoted in Social Pathology: A Journal of Reviews.

"Like other critical criminologists, Welch distances himself from the orthodox systems model in which the workings of criminal justice are couched in a value-free, positivist framework . . . Fortunately, Welch is never pedantic nor romantic in his exposition of the critical perspective. And like all the better texts, this one is comprehensive, scholarly, and well written."
--Professor James Robertson, Minnesota State University. Quoted in Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Today.

"As the title suggest, Michael Welch looks at the correctional system with a critical eye, questioning the current uses of our prisons and jails, as well as the motives behind policy . . . Welch challenges, and rightfully so, our current practice of lock-'em up and throw away the key-an idea favored by most Americans . . . Whether or not you agree with Welch's viewpoint, he makes you rethink your perspective and for that reason alone, the book is a welcome addition to correctional texts."
--Professor Sami Halbert, New Mexico State University. Quoted in American Journal of Criminal Justice.

"In Corrections: A Critical Approach, Michael Welch overcomes the limitations of traditional analyses of the correctional field through his unique use of what he calls a critical approach . . . All considered, the coverage throughout the book is broad ranging and well rounded. In short Welch's book on corrections is one of the best I have seen."
--Professor Michael J. Lynch, University of South Florida. Quoted in Journal of Contemporary of Criminal Justice.

"Welch has done a consistently solid job of presenting and discussing issues related to corrections and his analysis is compelling. Moreover, Welch has done so with a writing style that is understandable and a pleasure to read. I encourage the use of this book without hesitation. Indeed, this book is a solid addition to the area of corrections."
--Professor John Linn, Gustavus Adolphus College. Quoted in The Justice Professional.

"Welch believes that corrections must viewed in terms of the political, economic, religious, and technological forces which have shaped this field. The instructor who selects this book for an introductory course on corrections will not be disappointed with its comments or the insight that students may gain from its study."
--Professor Reid Montgomery, University of South Carolina. Quoted in Journal of Crime and Justice.