Punishing the Poor
America's social state is withering at the expense of its expanding prison system and the UK is heading in the same direction, with potentially disastrous consequences. That's the argument of Laurie Taylor's guest, Loic Wacquant, Professor of Sociology at the University of California.
From 1980 to 1990, spending by the US government on operating its prisons and correctional establishments doubled while at the same time spending on public housing more than halved. According to Wacquant, this process is continuing; he says that 'the construction of prisons has effectively become the country's main housing programme'. Are America's penal policies too harsh, and if prisons and correctional facilities are becoming increasingly important, what are the social consequences?
He talks to Laurie about why he believes America is too ready to accept a state of poverty for huge sections of its population and at the same time see the social state obliterated. Is America punishing its poor and is the UK at risk of following the same path, overly dependent on prisons while eroding its social state?