chapter  12
12 Pages

What’s wrong with American criminal justice reform?

WithSonya Goshe

In America, the rhetoric heralding criminal justice reform has been steadily gaining momentum. American criminal justice reform is disconnected from its knowledge of root causes of social harm and the depth of punitive norms in a society that does little more than punish to keep people safe. The energy around criminal justice reform is palpable and exciting. The recognition that prisons cost an exorbitant amount and do not work particularly well, long the stance of progressive criminologists, appears to have penetrated not just mainstream criminology, but the political establishment as well. The nihilistic and material forces that work against upgrading our social policy are serious and substantial, and extend beyond the criminal justice system. A reform project committed philosophically and practically to root causes is neither naive, outside the scope of criminal justice, nor a waste of energy, as nihilistic ideology suggests.