order from Penn Press

“The book is meticulously documented, tightly argued, and highly readable … an essential read for anyone interested in the U.S. carceral state.” – Library Journal

“Newport has written an essential document of Chicago history that provides context to many of the pressing issues that the city faces today.” – South Side Weekly

A history of Cook County Jail

and how jails became central to the machinations of white supremacy in American urban politics

Praise for THIS IS MY JAIL:

This Is My Jail is the book we’ve been waiting for. Melanie D. Newport, with her keen historical analysis and considerable skill as a storyteller, offers a page-turning account of the central role that jails play in the rise and expansion of mass incarceration. This is one of few books that takes the jail seriously and is the definitive historical account we’ve needed all along.”—Reuben Jonathan Miller, author of Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

“Despite the growth of the field of carceral studies over the last decade, we know very little about the history and development of jails in America. Melanie D. Newport fills this glaring gap in her stunning new book. Seamlessly blending social, institutional, and urban history, Newport persuasively argues that jails function as a central, though largely unrecognized, engine of mass incarceration and racial inequality. Ultimately, This is My Jail marks a vital contribution to our understanding of the logics and practices that have systematically placed people of color behind bars in disparate numbers.”—Elizabeth Hinton, author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

“This is the dark, untold history of the Cook County Jail that the Sheriff’s Office would rather keep silent, a long history of racism and violence that festers in the shadows of one of the United States’ most notorious criminal justice systems. Melanie D. Newport’s meticulous research exposes the false promise of a ‘benevolent’ jail and how empty reforms inflict violent punishment with racist intent.”—Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, author of Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court

From my appearance on PBS’ The Open Mind

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