Harm in American Penology

Offenders, Victims, and Their Communities

By Todd R. Clear

Subjects: Corrections
Series: SUNY series in New Directions in Crime and Justice Studies
Paperback : 9780791421741, 258 pages, November 1994
Hardcover : 9780791421734, 258 pages, December 1994

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Table of contents

List of Figures and Tables



1. Penal Harm and Its Justifications

2. The Great Punishment Experiment

3. Penal Science

4. Victims and Punishment

5. Community Protection

6. Reducing Penal Harm



Name Index

Subject Index


This book analyzes the sources and results of the fourfold increase in the U. S. correctional population since 1970. It considers the following themes: the value of punitiveness, defined as penal harm; research on crime and criminals; concerns about victims of crime; and concerns about community safety. It also analyzes the relationship between social problems and penal harm, such as poverty and crime during the twenty-year period of correctional expansion.

The author argues that a careful review of proposals for expanded penal harm cannot be justified. The growth in corrections was not caused by crime nor has it reduced crime. Clear describes a new strategy for corrections based on his examination of the politics of social control and the growth in penal harm.

Todd R. Clear is Professor and Faculty Chair in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. He is the author of Controlling the Offender in the Community, American Corrections, and The Pre-Sentence Investigation Report. Professor Clear was the recipient of the 1986 Cincinnati Award of the American Probation and Parole Association for his research on supervision technologies.


"The book's special quality is that Todd Clear balances passion and humaneness with scholarship and an appropriate appreciation for complexity. What emerges is a rare prize of a work, which avoids the pitfalls of shallow ideology and the dryness of 'mere' scholarship. " — Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati