Cheap on Crime (Paperback)

Recession-Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment

By Prof. Hadar Aviram

University of California Press, 9780520277311, 272pp.

Publication Date: February 6, 2015

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (2/6/2015)

List Price: 29.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


After forty years of increasing prison construction and incarceration rates, winds of change are blowing through the American correctional system. The 2008 financial crisis demonstrated the unsustainability of the incarceration project, thereby empowering policy makers to reform punishment through fiscal prudence and austerity. In Cheap on Crime, Hadar Aviram draws on years of archival and journalistic research and builds on social history and economics literature to show the powerful impact of recession-era discourse on the death penalty, the war on drugs, incarceration practices, prison health care, and other aspects of the American correctional landscape.

About the Author

Hadar Aviram is Professor of Law at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she codirects the Hastings Institute for Criminal Justice and publishes the California Correctional Crisis blog. 

Praise For Cheap on Crime: Recession-Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment

"[This book] has the potential to become a classic in the study of how social context—in particular, times of financial crisis—influences incarceration policies... Highly recommended."


"Cheap on Crime makes a valuable contribution to the literature on mass incarceration and is a must-read for those seeking explanations for the significant changes that have occurred in American corrections over the last 5 years."

— Christine S. Scott-Hayward

"Thought-provoking and notable work... Cheap on Crime documents how market values have come to dominate the discourse on American corrections since the Great Recession. A welcome edition to the literature at the intersection of economics and criminology."

— Larry Karson

"A well-researched book with a coherent narrative and a strong, theoretically and empirically grounded argument . . . Essential reading."

— Ashley Rubin

"Cheap on Crime raises crucial political questions for all of us to debate, and it is as timely as a book can be."

— Social Justice