'Ashley Rubin’s fascinating new book is a powerful reinterpretation of one of prison history’s best-known episodes: the early 19th-century competition between ‘silent’ and ‘separate’ systems of penitentiary discipline. With a sociologist’s grasp of organizational dynamics and a historian’s concern for individual agency and contingent events, Rubin retells the remarkable story of the world-famous Eastern State Penitentiary with new depth and insight. The result is a sociologically-informed history that reveals the abiding significance of this ‘deviant prison’ and uses its flawed idealism to point up the abject deformation of American prisons in the age of mass incarceration.'
David Garland - New York University
'In a compelling analysis, Ashley Rubin examines how a ‘deviant’ commitment to solitary confinement persisted in one of the earliest American prisons, Eastern State Penitentiary. She convincingly argues that Eastern State’s very outlier status undergirded the deep, decades-long institutional commitment to a doomed system of punishment, shedding new light on how penal aberrations speak to both past and current state punishment practices.'
Mona Lynch - University of California, Irvine
'Ashley Rubin has set a new bar for historical social science. Through dogged archival research and incisive analysis, she explains why Eastern State Penitentiary retained its unique system of prison discipline for so long: prison administrators couldn’t let go because their status depended on the survival of the deviant prison. Demonstrating the power of personal institutionalization, Rubin shows that forces inside the criminal justice system shape both penal history and paths to change.'
Joshua Page - University of Minnesota
'... a contribution to the sociology of organizations, to the study of institutional life cycles ...'
Lawrence M. Friedman
Source: Law & Society Review
'… a welcome and illuminating account ... detailed and well-researched ... Because of its integration of both sociological and historical methodology, Deviant Prisons will appeal to a wide range of scholars interested in criminal justice.'
Source: CLCJB Review
'Rubin offers a meandering but important history of the limits to this correctional experiment … Recommended.'
R. D. McCrie
Source: Choice Connect