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Breaking the Pendulum. The Long Struggle Over Criminal Justice

April 11, 2017

Professors Josh Page and Michelle Phelps, co-authored a book with Philip Goodman, Breaking the Pendulum The Long Struggle Over Criminal Justice, which provides a new way of thinking about the processes of criminal justice development from the birth of the prison through contemporary reforms.

The history of criminal justice in the U.S. is often described as a pendulum, swinging back and forth between strict punishment and lenient rehabilitation. While this view is common wisdom, it is wrong. In Breaking the Pendulum, Philip Goodman, Joshua Page, and Michelle Phelps systematically debunk the pendulum perspective, showing that it distorts how and why criminal justice changes. The pendulum model blinds us to the blending of penal orientations, policies, and practices, as well as the struggle between actors that shapes laws, institutions, and how we think about crime, punishment, and related issues.