Dario Melossi



A New Edition of Punishment and Social Structure Thirty-Five Years Later: A Timely Event

Dario Melossi’s essay announces the timely republication of Georg Rushe and Otto Kirchheimer’s classic text, Punishment and Social Structure. Melossi surveys the literature spawned by their thesis on the history of punishment and takes it in new and interesting directions. He addresses areas of the book that have come under criticism: the treatment of totalitarianism and the imprisonment of women. Melossi attempts to deepen Rusche’s work in terms of long-term development by using “long cycles” of punishment. This approach situates patterns of imprisonment within the shifts triggered by innovation in the relative power of entrepreneurs and the working class. This gives insight into the “great internment” of the last quarter of the 20th century in the U.S., as well as into why the increased personal security of Americans was not at issue.

punishment, history of; incarceration rates, U.S., Italy, world system; labor movement; criminal justice — United States; Kirchheimer, Otto — Punishment and Social Structure; Rusche, Georg — Punishment and Social Structure; totalitarianism; unemployed — United States; women — prisoners

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 30, No. 1 (2003): 248-263