Northern Illinois University Press

The Politics of Punishment

Prison Reform in Russia, 18631917

Bruce F. Adams

The many lurid accounts of prison life in late imperial Russia have conditioned readers to expect tales of crime and punishment at their very worst whenever the subject of prisons and prisoners emerges. Yet, despite the very real horrors of punishment in a society that did not always share Western notions of what was cruel and unnecessary, the Russian government made considerable strides toward modernizing its correctional system during the half century before the Revolution of 1917.

Determined to choose rehabilitation over such brutal forms of punishment as flogging and mutilation, the reformers of Russia's Great Reforms era set out to redeem and retrain their nation's criminals. At the same time, they fought to overturn the establishment's long-standing assumptions about crime and punishment. Adams tells the previously neglected story of their successes and failures in what became a long-term struggle against barbarism and inhumanity.

Drawing from a wide range of materials, including previously untapped archival sources, Adams examines for the first time how Russia's Main Prison Administration was created, the number of prisoners it managed in what types of prisons, and what it accomplished. While providing a thorough account of prison management at a crucial time in Russia's history, he explores broader discussions of reform within Russia's government and society, especially after the Revolution of 1905, when arguments on such topics as parole and probation boiled into the arena of raucous public debate.

(1996) 245 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-215-2
cloth $38.50

Table of Contents

Chapter One: The Movement to Abolish Corporal Punishment
Chapter Two: Prison Administration in the Ministry of Internal Affairs
Chapter Three: The Commissions Discuss Prison Reform
Chapter Four: The Main Prison Administration
Chapter Five: Further Efforts at Reform and the Denouement

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-215-2
cloth $38.50