Robert Perkinson
Author of Texas Tough: The Rise of a Prison Empire

Robert Perkinson is the author of Texas Tough: The Rise of a Prison Empire (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2008). His family hails from the South (Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas), and he grew up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He became interested in criminal justice as a college student in Colorado, where prisons were springing up faster than Wal-Marts in the 1980s and 1990s. In graduate school at Yale, he decided to focus his research on the history of racism and criminal justice in the South, and he eventually settled on the Lone Star State, where the action is. His book is a history of American punishment from slavery to the present, with an emphasis on Texas, the most incarcerated and politically influential state in the nation. He is currently a professor at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. He was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship in 2006.