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Violence: Our Deadly Epidemic and Its Causes

NCJ Number
J Gilligan
Date Published
306 pages
This volume explores the social and psychological roots of violence and argues that shame is the deadliest emotion and that inmates of maximum-security prisons and criminally insane men in mental hospitals were often victims of physical or mental child abuse or sexual abuse.
The analysis is based on the author's experience as director of the Bridgewater State Hospital and of mental health services for the Massachusetts prison system. He argues that the conditions in the prison system today only serve to perpetuate and magnify the very shame that caused the criminal to lash out initially. The analysis contends that the current stringent penal system in the United States is ineffective. It recommends approaches that develop a deeper understanding of the motivations of violent criminals and provide some type of reeducation that will end the cycle of shame and self-loathing. It notes that offering inmates college and secondary education virtually eliminates inmate violence. It concludes that only when citizens put aside their anger, vengeance, and rage can they be rational and wise enough to create a safer community for themselves and their families. Chapter reference notes and index (Publisher summary modified)