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Chapter 9 is a close examination of the infamous Willie Horton scandal. With the exploitation of this case by the presidential campaign of George H. W. Bush, the furlough process became the theater for a proxy battle in the war on crime. Whereas a decade earlier furloughs were heralded as a tool to enhance public safety, the specter of “future Willie Hortons” introduced a new common sense, according to which furloughs entailed an unreasonable risk and were evidence of the supposed absurdity of rehabilitative approaches to incarceration. Although prisoners, their families, and correctional administrators mobilized to protect furloughs as an imperfect privilege that made prisoners’ lives bearable, the backlash against furloughs ultimately devoured discretionary release of any kind, contributing to the decline of clemency. In Massachusetts and elsewhere, the demise of furloughs signaled the erosion of the rehabilitative promise, the repudiation of correctional experts, and changing calculations of risk.

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