DiIulio approaches his subject--a prison study focusing on management rather than inmates--with a ""tough-but-fair"" swagger, buttressed with quotations from Plato. Dilulio considers his efforts exploratory, and a departure from most previous prison studies, which have been sociological. His central assumption is contrarian: that ""prisons can be and should be governed by the state""--not the inmates. He contends that the sociological sciences offered an easy way out for prison management and legislatures. ""Nobody wants to say in public that they screwed up the prisons. It's best to say that the prisons are screwed up,"" one state official told him. He compares and contrasts the higher-custody prisons of three states to analyze their prison-administration structures and levels of ""order, service and amenities,"" and includes statistical charts, documentary evidence, extensive quotes, some anecdotal material, as well as an excellent, descriptive bibliography. Finally, Dilulio concludes that prisons are governable, and reverses the long-standing sociological view that inmate violence is a result of strict discipline. This exploratory work is provocative and iconoclastic, muddled and confusing. It overreaches by attempting, all at once, to fashion a philosophy for prison reform, a scientific methodology to discover the root nature of the prison problem, and to present results of three years of field research. But Dilulio's revisionist conclusion should spark some debate--and make this book of interest to those concerned about our prisons.