We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Jail

Managing the Underclass in american society

John Irwin

Publication Year: 1985

Combining extensive interviews with his own experience as an inmate, John Irwin constructs a powerful and graphic description of the big-city jail. Unlike prisons, which incarcerate convicted felons, jails primarily confine arrested persons not yet charged or convicted of any serious crime. Irwin argues that jail disorients and degrades and instead of controlling the disreputable, actually increases their number of helping to indoctrinate new recruits to the rabble class. In a forceful conclusion, Irwin addresses the issue of jail reform and the matter of social control demanded by society.

Published by: University of California Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (9.8 KB)
p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (109.3 KB)
pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF (81.8 KB)
pp. vii-9

List of Tables

pdf iconDownload PDF (45.3 KB)
pp. ix-x

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (199.7 KB)
pp. xi-xiv

Social scientists, like the general public, have shown a great interest in the prison but have almost completely ignored the jail. Since John Howard's historic report on English jails, The State of the Prisons in England and Wales (1777), there have been perhaps a dozen other reports (most of which are listed in the bibliography), whereas there are hundreds of studies on the prison...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (80.2 KB)
pp. xv-17

Several persons attached to the San Francisco Sheriff's Department made it possible for me to study the San Francisco jails. Former Sheriff Richard Hongisto had created prisoner services, through which I was admitted into the jail. Guy Crouch, who was the director of prisoner services when I began my research, actually accepted me into prisoner services, which gained...

read more

1 Managing Rabble

pdf iconDownload PDF (857.7 KB)
pp. 1-17

IN A LEGAL SENSE, the jail is the point of entry into the criminal justice system. It is the place where arrested persons are booked and where they are held for their court appearances if they cannot arrange bail. It is also the city or county detention facility for persons serving misdemeanor sentences, which...

read more

2 Who Is Arrested?

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 18-41

THE VAST MAJORITY of the persons who are arrested, booked, and held in jail are not charged with serious crimes. They are charged with petty ones or with behavior that is no crime at all. And the jail, unlike the prison, has little to do with serious crime. Its primary purpose is to receive and hold...

read more

3 Disintegration

pdf iconDownload PDF (613.6 KB)
pp. 42-52

WHEN THE POLICE bring arrested perons to the jail, their obvious intention is that the "offenders" be held there, tried for their crimes, and then, if found guilty, punished. This is the official purpose of jailing people. But the jail—like most public institutions— has other unstated purposes as...

read more

4 Disorientation

pdf iconDownload PDF (752.0 KB)
pp. 53-66

HE PROCESS of being arrested and held in jail often produces a profound state of internal disorganization and demoralization. This state is the opposite of "having it together," a popular metaphor for an internal discipline, a spirit, and a set of habits that equip persons to cope with the complexities...

read more

5 Degradation

pdf iconDownload PDF (951.3 KB)
pp. 67-84

PRISONERS RECEIVE much more than the treatment required to introduce them to the jail and hold them there. They are impersonally and systematically degraded by every step in the criminal justice process, from arrest through detention to court appearance. They are also degraded personally by....

read more

6 Preparation

pdf iconDownload PDF (801.4 KB)
pp. 85-100

WHILE SERVING as a social institution for controlling the rabble, the jail also supports and maintains the rabble class. For the rabble, it is a meeting house, a place where they find new friends and reconnect with old ones who share common goals and interests. It is a convalescent center, a place where the ailing and tired among them can rest, heal, and ready themselves...

read more

7 Rabble, Crime, and the Jail

pdf iconDownload PDF (930.0 KB)
pp. 101-118

OVER THE YEARS, scholars and critics have made many recommendations for diminishing the worst effects of the jail. They have suggested that a high percentage of the jail's intake population could be eliminated through decriminalization. According to Hans Mattick: Decriminalization does not imply social approval of conduct previously defined as criminal. It simply asserts what has...


pdf iconDownload PDF (156.2 KB)
pp. 119-122


pdf iconDownload PDF (542.4 KB)
pp. 123-134


pdf iconDownload PDF (280.5 KB)
pp. 135-140


pdf iconDownload PDF (652.2 KB)
pp. 141-148

E-ISBN-13: 9780520908406
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520055636

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 1985