This book examines the intersection between incarceration and human rights. It is about why independent inspection of places of custody is a necessary part of human rights protection, and how that independence is manifested and preserved in practice. Immigration and asylum policies ask crucial questions about national identity, about human rights, and about our values as compassionate citizens in an era of increasingly complex international challenges. The book deals with the future of prisons and shows how the vulnerable population has been unconscionably treated. To arrive at a proper diagnosis of the expansive use and abuse of the prison in the age of economic deregulation and social insecurity, it is imperative that we effect some analytic breaks with the gamut of established approaches to incarceration. The book explores the new realities of criminal confinement of persons with mental illness. It traces the efforts of New Right think-tanks, police chiefs and other policy entrepreneurs to export neoliberal penality to Europe, with England and Wales acting as an 'acclimatization chamber'. In a series of interventions, of which his Oxford Amnesty Lecture is but one, Loic Wacquant has in recent years developed an incisive and invaluable analysis of the rise and effects of what he calls the penal state.
This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in this book. The book describes the contributions of twelve thoughtful experts, whose words are informed by personal experience in prisons, by professional engagement with policy and practice, and by academic knowledge of law, history, sociology, criminology and literature. Oxford Amnesty Lectures (OAL) has as it's first raison d'etre the raising of funds for Amnesty International. It does so through an annual series of lectures which consider human rights in light of a particular theme. In 2007 the theme was incarceration, an apposite topic when one remembers Amnesty International's founding narrative, that of Peter Benenson reading about two Portuguese students being imprisoned. Prisons are places where, with the fundamental right of liberty suspended, human rights can be observed or ignored, promoted or disregarded. The contributors show how to judge, and improve, prison through the prism of rights.