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A must-read - The Number

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Perhaps the best known book about prisons and prison gangs in South Africa is Jonny Steinberg's “The Number”.

Steinberg, J. (2004). The Number: One Man's Search for Identity in the Cape Underworld and Prison Gangs. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers. ISBN 1-86842-205-4

It is available from most South African university libraries and from online booksellers.

Incarceration nations

Incarceration Nations by American author Baz Dreisinger describes incarceration practices in a number of countries, including South Africa. Read a review of the book. An interesting statistic from the review - 25% of all incarcerated people in the world are in the USA (which has 5% of the world population).



Research by Alison Liebling and co-authors

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Liebling, A. and Maruna, S. (2005). The effects of Imprisonment. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing. ISBN 9781843922179

Book Review: As the number of prisoners in the UK, USA and elsewhere continues to rise, so have concerns risen about the damaging short term and long term effects this has on prisoners. This book brings together a group of leading authorities in this field, both academics and practitioners, to address the complex issues this has raised, to assess the implications and results of research in this field, and to suggest ways of mitigating the often devastating personal and psychological consequences of imprisonment.



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Liebling, A., Price, D. and Shefer, G. (2011). The Prison officer. 2nd edition, Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing. ISBN 9780203832998.

Book review: This book incorporates the significant increase in knowledge about the work of the prison officer and provides a live account of prison work and understanding the role of the prison officer in Britain. Using a range of quantitative and qualitative data and drawing on available theoretical literature it explores the role of the prison officer in an ‘appreciative’ way, taking into account the little-discussed issues of power and discretion. This book provides relevance to those interested in the work of a prison officer, students, those looking for an introductory survey of the literature and essential reading for any established and aspiring officers.



Liebling, A., Tankebe, J. (2013). Legitimacy and Criminal Justice: An International Exploration. A landmark work presenting comprehensive theoretical, empirical and political analysis of the sources and problems of criminal justice legitimacy. Oxford University Press. Book review: A landmark work presenting comprehensive theoretical, empirical and political analysis of the sources and problems of criminal justice legitimacy. Features contributions by leading political theorists and criminologists, plus unique, comparative insights from scholars around the world. Addresses the reality of an increasingly globalised world, including dealings with ethnically and religiously diverse communities and dilemmas posed by perceived terrorist threats.



Liebling, A. & Arnold, H. (2004). Prisons and their Moral Performance: A Study of Values, Quality and Prison Life, Oxford: Clarendon Studies in Criminology, Oxford University Press. Book review: The first major empirical study of the relationships between concepts of trust, respect, fairness, order, and well-being in prison life. It explores the controversial concept of 'moral performance' and the links and tensions between managerialism and moral values in prisons.