This book as originally conceived was aimed at the legal community - lawyers,
law students, and judges. As various people read the early drafts, I was
encouraged to be more ambitious in my intended audience. Writing for both
the legal and larger communities poses certain difficulties. In writing
about the law for a legal audience one feels constrained to engage in
a form of analysis which generations of law students have had instilled
in them as 'the way lawyers think,' in contrast to the way the rest of
the world thinks. This sounds elitist, and by and large it is. The fact
remains that lawyers do engage in a highly distinctive form of analysis.
The parts of this book that describe legal arguments and court decisions
relating to 'cruel and unusual punishment,' 'due process of law,' and
'principles of fundamental justice' conform to this distinctive analytic
model in order to enable lawyers who read this book to follow and assess
the arguments arid decisions within the contours of legal scholarship.
However, I have sought to provide enough background to the legal arguments
to allow other readers to understand and assess the nature, development,
and adequacy of principles and processes that have been designed, primarily
by lawyers, to protect the individual against the abuse of state power.
Not all of the book is written in the way lawyers typically write about
the law. Much of it is about life beyond the law, life in the deepest
reaches of maximum-security penitentiaries. In these sections, lawyers
will find little to make them comfortable, least of all the impersonal
quality that characterizes most legal writing. I make no apologies for
this. One of the central themes of the prisoners' experiences described
in this book - through their own evidence in the courtroom and their letters
from prison - is that carceral practices surrounding solitary confinement
reduce prisoners to something less than human beings. This book is intended
to provide those concerned about rights an opportunity to confront the
reality of prisoners' lives and to reflect on their own role and responsibility
in the face of that reality. Such reflection is not an impersonal process.
Neither are the description and analysis that inform it.
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