Education or Incarceration? Schools and Prisons in a Punishing Democracy

While the prison-industrial-complex has expanded dramatically over the last generation, becoming one of the fastest growth industries in the United States of America, now housing over 2.1 million prisoners and supervising another 5 million parolees and probationers, public education in America has suffered a precipitous decline.  The U.S. is thus not teaching a generation of young, impoverished men how to be better citizens; it is teaching them how to be better criminals. Democracy cannot long survive this predicament. Gathering together essays by some of the nation’s leading scholars, teachers, artists, and activists, Stephen Hartnett's edited book tackles the complicated and compelling question of how to reclaim our schools­­—and hence the future of democracy—from the clutches of the prison-industrial-complex.

CDMS and the University of Illinois Press will jointly publish a series of books tackling the dilemmas of democracy in a multiracial society. Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex is be the first book in this new series, with others to follow as agreed upon by CDMS and the Press.


For more information on this project, please contact




Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society
1108 W Stoughton, Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: 217.244.0188 Fax: 217.333.8122 E-mail: