This comprehensive and factual study of the penal systems of South America is the outgrowth of an extended tour made by the author in 1944. The countries visited include: Panama; Colombia, which has the most rational program of productive prison labor; Ecuador, where there is "no penal philosophy or prison system worthy of the name"; Peru; Bolivia, with "prisons and penal philosophy the most benighted of any country visited"; Chile, which maintains "the worst large city jail ever seen" in Santiago; Argentina, which with Brazil stands in the foreground as far as prison construction is concerned; and Brazil, where there is real leadership in both adult penology and child care.
The author's observations and discussions with leading men in the field, his knowledge of the history behind the present penal cods and institutions, and his understanding of the social, economic, and biological factors leading to crime make this a very illuminating account. There are detailed descriptions of the extremes of good and bad penal administration that may exist even within the same city, the generally sordid treatment of women prisoners who are not cared for in church-operated institutions, and the almost universal system of housing dependent and neglected minors in the same institutions as delinquent children.
This book will be of interest not only to those who have a special knowledge of the field but to those who have little previous experience with the subject. There are ten photographs of prisoners that are described in detail by the author and a line-map of the penal institutions of South America.