In his lecture, Professor Platt will discuss some of the main arguments from his latest book entitled “Beyond these Walls: Rethinking Crime and Punishment in the United States”. Beyond these Walls traces the United States’ disturbing history of punishment and social control, revealing how the criminal justice system attempts to enforce and justify inequalities associated with class, race, gender, and sexuality. Prisons and police departments are central to this process, but other institutions – from immigration and welfare to educational and public health agencies – are equally complicit. Platt argues that international and national politics shape perceptions of danger and determine the policies of local criminal justice agencies, while private policing and global corporations are deeply and undemocratically involved in the business of homeland security. Drawing upon a long tradition of popular resistance, Platt concludes with a strategic vision of what it will take to achieve justice for all in this era of authoritarian disorder.
Professor Platt’s talk will be followed by a discussion and a Q&A with audience members on what lessons a European audience can draw from the development of the carceral state in the U.S. and what can be said about the role of the law in contributing to justice and security.
About Tony Platt
Over the course of four decades, Tony Platt taught American history, public policy, and social sciences at University of Chicago (1966-1968), Berkeley (1968-1977) and California State University, Sacramento (1977-2007). After completing an undergraduate degree at Oxford University (1960-1963) and earning a doctorate from Berkeley in 1966, he went on to author ten books and over 150 essays and articles dealing with issues of race, inequality, and social justice in American history. Among his notable works are “The Child Savers: The Invention of Delinquency” (1969) and “Bloodlines: Recovering Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws, From Patton’s Trophy to Public Memorial” (2006). His recent work – which includes the book, “Beyond these Walls: Rethinking Crime and Punishment in the United States” (2019) – is focused on issues relating to public history, memory, and the tragic past. He is currently a Distinguished Affiliated Scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Law and Society.
This lecture is organized by the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance & Society in collaboration with the Institute for Criminal Law & Criminology.