Book Review

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



This ambitious book impressively chronicles forms of imprisonment in American history from Columbus’s crossing in 1492, with at least four convicts among his crew, to the rise of five hundred years later of a “prison-industrial complex,” which employs over half a million people and incarcerates more than one million others. According to Christianson, a former investigative reporter and gubernatorial aide who is now contributing editor of The Criminal Law Bulletin, director of the New York Death Penalty Documentation Project, and chairman of the Board of the Safer Society Foundation, With Liberty for Some “is a history of how we got to where we are.” That journey, eloquently narrated by Christianson, demonstrates how central imprisonment has been to the American experience.

Publication Citation

19 Law & Hist. Rev. 222 (2001) (reviewing Scott Christianson, With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment in America (1998)).