Thursday, October 18, 2018

How do you explain punishment and society to your non-punishment colleagues?

Yesterday, a colleague asked me what exactly was punishment and society. I stopped for a moment to think because, while that's something I had a pat answer for in years past, I'm not sure that answer still holds today as the field as grown, matured, and diversified, as David Garland has recently described.

I used to say we look at why a given society or set of societies punishes in the way(s) it does. We might further add that our credo is examining the social, political, and economic factors---that is, things other than crime rates---that influence punishment. The other definition I can give is more vague and doesn't really say much about the field: we study punishment as a social institution or we study punishment from social science and humanistic perspectives. I also gave this definition to my colleague, but they did not find it useful, and I would agree---it says what we study, and some basic information about how we study it, but not really why we study it, what we're after.

Three caveats before moving on: I say crime rates, not perceptions of crime rates, because we know perceptions of crime rates are really important and that perceptions often have little to do with the actual rate of crime (e.g., Beckett 1997).

The second caveat is, at least as I (and a lot of other folks, but maybe not everyone) see it, punishment should be broadly construed. It doesn't have to be state authorized punishments---it can be things that in years past people called social control (but that has become unpopular recently for reasons I'm not yet aware of). In fact, there has been an explosion over the last ten or so years, really going back to about 2010, of people exploring non-punishment punishments---that is, things that many wouldn't call punishment because they are not formally/officially punishment but they sure feel like punishment to the people experiencing them (e.g., Beckett and Herbert 2010, Lynch and Hannah-Moffat 2011, Zedner 2015, Super 2017).

The final caveat is I'm defining the field intuitively rather than based on what's published in what journal. Probably most people who self-identify as P&S scholars publish in P&S, but not everyone who publishes in P&S self-identifies as a P&S scholar. Likewise, self-identified P&S scholars publish in a variety of other journals, including various disciplinary journals (e.g., ASR/AJS, ANNALs, Criminology, BJC, ANZJOC, TC) and interdisciplinary journals (LSR, LSI), among many others.

But in thinking about this intuitively, I'm also prioritizing my unique training, sets of preferences, and network. People in other countries, or in the same country but trained in a different department, or with different research interests may have different takes. Interestingly, there are a lot of people I would label as P&S scholars who don't seem to self-identify that way. (It's an interesting question to think about---how might you empirically define a field. L&S scholars writing review articles trying to identify the L&S "canon" have sometimes used surveys, syllabi, LSR articles, the most-cited articles. Others have suggested we should look at conference presentations. Still others have pointed out that most of these methods are pretty American-centric approaches. Methodologically and theoretically, it's a really interesting question, I think anyway.)

Getting back to these definitions.... Although my preferred definition (abbreviated as "what social factors cause punishment") sounds very macro, there is a greater variety in it than may at first appear. While some of the earliest studies were pitched at the macro level (Durkheim, Marxists, Foucault, Garland), there has been a lot of work at the micro level that still falls under this definition. For example, people who study the behavior of contemporary courts (Van Cleve, Koehler-Haussman) or policing behavior (Stuart) are looking at the micro-level, situational, and interactional factors, embedded in larger frameworks of politics, racial and gender hierarchies, and poverty, that shape penal policies and the experience of punishment---that is, the causes of punishment (and punishment-like experiences, even if they aren't formally punishment).

What gets left out?


But despite its flexibility, I'm not sure my definition (or perhaps characterization) holds anymore. A lot of P&S scholars study other things that are sometimes termed critical criminology and prison sociology. For example, the lineage that begins with Clemmer and Sykes and continues on to a number of scholars today doing prison ethnographies to understand the prison experience, mostly within a sociological tradition (or some would say criminological) tradition. It certainly seems like an affiliated subject and there is a lot of crossover (many of us do both P&S and prison sociology, if we're to refer to them separately, which perhaps we shouldn't). But particularly when looking at prison ethnographies as prisoners' reactions to their confinement (how I usually describe my work, for example) this seems a step removed from the question of what causes punishment. However, if we look at prisoners themselves as one of the causes of punishment (which takes more careful wording than I can muster without implying that prisoners are somehow responsible for their situation--not what I want to imply), along with their organizational setting and the role of the criminal justice actors and policies, then it would still fit. It's not so much about explaining formal policies of punishment and more about explaining the experience of punishment.

There might be even greater overlap with critical criminology in terms of the overall project of understanding penal trends and developments, if sometimes from a different epistemic or philosophical bent. However, despite the overlap, there seem to be a number of folks who identify as P&S scholars who would not self-identify as critical criminologists, and vice versa.

One area that is very likely (and problematically) excluded from this definition is one subset of what might be called the sociology of punishment. In this category, I'm thinking about the many scholars studying the consequences of punishment. (Of course, "sociology of punishment" is also too narrow as there are several notable political scientist studying the political ramifications of our penal trends for democracy generally and voting specifically. However, I've not heard anyone refer to the political science of punishment, while the politics of punishment seems to transcend the soc/poli sci boundary.) This area became really popular in the early 2000s with scholars looking at the consequences of mass incarceration and its associated policies on exacerbating inequality, particularly racial stratification, along class, education, income, employment, health, voting, and other basic facets of life (e.g., Pager 2003, Pettit and Western 2004, Wakefield and Uggen 2010). While you could argue this work has downstream consequences that increase people's chances of getting scooped up in the CJS net, the primary focus is on the consequences of punishment rather than the causes. I find this research super interesting, and don't want to exclude it, but it's an example of one of the limitations of my preferred definition or characterization of the field.

Finally, I want to mention a set of research that predates the rise of P&S as a recognizable area, which I do date back to the founding of P&S in 1999. That's the work by Stan Cohen in 1979 and 1985 on net widening and mesh thinning and the failure of progressive penal reform generally. This strikes me very much as a P&S project, but most folks working in this tradition (at least in the US) were in criminology departments. This is also around the same time as some early prison histories---Rothman (1971 and 1980), Ignatieff (1978), Foucault (1965 and 1977), Melossi and Pavarini (1981)---that were also pretty skeptical about reform. Interestingly, I'd put all of this in the P&S category---it's all about what causes punishment---in this case what causes penal reforms to fail, how penal reforms play out in practice, why punishment turns punitive despite apparent efforts to the contrary, all more specific versions of why a society punishes as it does. But these works all came out before we had something called "punishment and society."

Returning to the Field


Although I've not done a systematic review, it does seem like P&S the journal is becoming more big tent---this is a general trajectory of a lot of journals over time. For example, look at the diversity articles in LSR. This is not to say that either is as diverse as it could be---there are certain major gaps in theories, methods, topics, groups, and countries represented. But relative to their earlier days, it seems they are more diverse.

Consequently, again, it might be the case that the definition I used to give is too narrow to capture what might be better called the field of punishment studies---basically people studying punishment from various social science and humanistic perspectives. (To be more inclusive, I've started using this phrase, punishment studies, but it's still exclusive because of the focus on punishment, which people might interpret too literally as excluding, policing, legalization/criminalization, and social control more generally.) Of course, the (other) problem with this label and definition is it really doesn't get at what we do, what our goals are. It just says what we study, but not why. But perhaps in this larger, more developed field, there is no single, central research question---that might have been possible when it was a really small field, but maybe it's not any more, and perhaps a single underlying, broad research question is not desirable anyway.

Before ending, I do want to make clear that my goal here, in writing this post, is not to say who is in or who is out---my default reaction is we should always aim for a big tent. Instead, definitions are helpful; they are often imperfect and sound more objective than the blurry reality, but they are still informative, especially when used with a sense of caution.

So how do you describe punishment and society to your non-punishment colleagues? What's a broad definition or characterization that fits people who self-identify as punishment and society scholars? (And what's a better word than punishment that's more inclusive of people who study policing, regulations, non-punishment punishments, immigration, and other things that we do study and can learn from?) If your or your friends study punishment, but don't identify as a P&S scholar, why don't you/they?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Next Digital Speaker: Burton on "The Machinery of Demons: Crime and the Uncanny Mind in the Nineteenth Century"

Our fifth installment of the P&S CRN Digital Speaker Series will feature Chase Burton and his talk, "The Machinery of Demons: Crime and the Uncanny Mind in the Nineteenth Century" on Wednesday, May 16 at 12:30 EST. We will send out a link to the talk a little before the talk, which will stream live on YouTube. We hope you all can make it!  

Punishment & Society CRN Digital Speaker Series
 
Wednesday, May 16 at 12:30 EST
(Instructions for watching the talk online forthcoming)
 
Chase Burton, UC Berkeley 
 
The Machinery of Demons: Crime and the Uncanny Mind in the Nineteenth Century 

This talk shares an excerpt from my dissertation project on American criminology in the nineteenth century and the ways in early proto-scientific writing about crime drew on literary forms and images for coherence. I will try to sketch out a history of obsession, which emerged in the early nineteenth century as a way of talking about the uncanny irrational: the pieces of superstition, fear and lack of control that should have been conquered by Enlightenment rationality, but constantly re-emerged. Obsession provided a frame for the American reinterpretation and extension of monomania theory, which then fractured and was rearticulated into single issue diagnoses (pyromania, kleptomania) that in turn became indicators of non-hereditary degeneracy in the first prominent US eugenic theories of criminology advanced by W. Duncan McKim and D. A. Gorton. The goal is thus both to draw attention to often-overlooked yet influential figures in the intellectual history of American criminology, and to show how early twentieth century eugenic theory was built on references to and extensions of Gothic tropes and imagery. 


Sent on behalf of the P&S Digital Speaker Series Committee 
(Sarah Lageson, Rose Ricciardelli, and Ashley Rubin)

If you would like to present your work through the speaker series or join the organizing committee, please email us!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Members' Publications

As compiled by Miltonette Craig:

RECENTLY PUBLISHED WORKS
February 2017

ARTICLES

Black, Lynsey. (2017). “On the Other Hand the Accused Is a Woman…”: Women and the Death Penalty in Post-Independence Ireland. Law and History Review. DOI: 10.1017/S0738248017000542. [Access it here]

Burkhardt, Brett C. (2018). Contesting Market Rationality: Discursive Struggles over Prison Privatization. Punishment & Society. DOI: 10.1177/1462474517751665.[Access it here]

Cooper, Jessica. (2017). Trapped: The Limits of Care in California’s Mental Health Courts. Social Justice44(1), 121-141. [Access it here]

Garland, David. (2018). Theoretical Advances and Problems in the Sociology of Punishment. Punishment & Society,20(1), 8-33.[Access it here]

Gibson-Light, Michael. (Forthcoming). Ramen Politics: Informal Money and Logics of Resistance in the Contemporary American Prison. Qualitative Sociology.

Kerrison, Erin M. (2018). Risky Business, Risk Assessment, and Other Heteronormative Misnomers in Women’s Community Corrections and Reentry Planning. Punishment & Society20(1), 134-151.[Access it here]

Lageson, Sarah, & Shadd Maruna. (2018). Digital Degradation: Stigma Management in the Internet Age. Punishment & Society20(1), 113-133. [Access it here]

Reiter, Keramet, Lori Sexton, & Jennifer Sumner. (2018). Theoretical and Empirical Limits of Scandinavian Exceptionalism: Isolation and Normalization in Danish Prisons. Punishment & Society20(1), 92-112.
[Access it here]

Savelsberg, Joachim J. (2018). Punitive Turn and Justice Cascade: Mutual Inspiration from Punishment & Society and Human Rights Literatures. Punishment & Society20(1), 73-91. [Access it here]


BOOKS/BOOK CHAPTERS/EDITED COLLECTIONS/REPORTS
Gibson-Light, Michael. (2017). “Classification Struggles in Semi-Formal and Precarious Work: Lessons from Inmate Labor and Cultural Production.” In Arne L. Kalleberg & Steven P. Vallas (Eds.), Precarious Work: Research in the Sociology of Work(pp. 61-89). Bradford, UK: Emerald Publishing [More information here]

Longazel, Jamie. (2018). “Racing the Oven Bird: Criminalization, Rightlessness, and the Politics of Immigration.” In Mary Nell Trautner (Ed.), Insiders, Outsiders, Injuries, & Law: Revisiting “The Oven Bird’s Song”(pp. 161-180). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. [More information here]

Phelps, Michelle S. (2018). “Mass Probation and Inequality: Race, Class, and Gender Disparities in Supervision and Revocation.” In Jeffrey T. Ulmer and Mindy Bradley (Eds.), Handbook on Punishment Decisions: Locations of Disparity (pp. 43-66). New York, NY: Routledge. [Access it here; More information here]

Savelsberg, Joachim J. (2018). “Criminology in the United States: Contexts, Institutions, and Knowledge in Flux.” In Ruth Ann Triplett (Ed.), The Wiley Handbook of the History and Philosophy of Criminology (pp. 437-452). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. [More information here]

Unger, Matthew P., JeanPhilippe Crete, & George Pavlich. (2018). “Criminal Entryways in the Writing of Cesare Beccaria.” In Ruth Ann Triplett (Ed.), The Wiley Handbook of the History and Philosophy of Criminology (pp. 13-31). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. [More information here]

van Zyl Smit, Dirk, & Alessandro Corda. (2017). “American Exceptionalism in Parole Release and Supervision: A European Perspective.” In Kevin R. Reitz (Ed.), American Exceptionalism in Crime and Punishment(pp. 410-486). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.[More information here]



RECENTLY PUBLISHED WORKS
April 2018

ARTICLES

Aiello, Brittnie, & Jill McCorkel. (2017). “It Will Crush You Like a Bug”: Maternal Incarceration, Secondary Prisonization, and Children’s Visitation. Punishment & Society. DOI: 10.1177/1462474517697295. [Access it here]

Carlson, Jennifer. (2018). Legally Armed but Presumed Dangerous: An Intersectional Analysis of Gun Carry Licensing as a Racial/Gender Degradation Ceremony. Gender & Society32(2), 204-227. [Access it here]

Cooper, Jessica. Unruly Affects: Attempts at Control and All That Escapes from an American Mental Health Court. Cultural Anthropology33(1), 85-108. [Access it here

Crewe, B., Susie Hulley, & Serena Wright. (2017). “The Gendered Pains of Imprisonment.” British Journal of Criminology. DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azw088. [Access it here]

Hancock, Black Hawk, Bryan L. Sykes, & Anjuli Verma. (2018). The Problem of “Cameo Appearances” in Mixed-Methods Research: Implications for 21st-Century Ethnography. Sociological Perspectives,61(2), 314-334. [Access it here]

Hannah-Moffat, Kelly. (2018). Algorithmic Risk Governance: Big Data Analytics, Race and Information Activism in Criminal Justice Debates. Theoretical Criminology. DOI: 10.1177/1362480618763582. [Access it here]

Jiang, Jize. (2018, Forthcoming). Book Review: Breaking the Pendulum: The Long Struggle over Criminal Justice, by Philip Goodman, Joshua Page, and Michelle Phelps. Social & Legal Studies.

Jiang, Jize. (2018, In Press). Book Review: Nordic Nationalism and Penal Order: Walling the Welfare State, by Vanessa Barker. Theoretical Criminology

McCorkel, Jill. (2017). The Second Coming: Gender, Profit, and Carceral Drug Treatment. Journal of Contemporary Drug Problems44(4), 286-300. [Access it here]

Phelps, Michelle S. (2017). Discourses of Mass Probation: From Managing Risk to Ending Human Warehousing in Michigan. British Journal of Criminology. DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azx077. [Access it here]

Russell, Emma K. (2018). Punishment in a “Tolerant Society”: Interrogating Hate Crime Law Reform Discourse. Griffith Law Review26(3), 315-333. [Access it here]

Schept, Judah. (2018). Book Review: Big House on the Prairie: Rise of the Rural Ghetto and Prison Proliferation, by John Eason. Punishment & Society. DOI: 10.1177/1462474518756596. [Access it here]

BOOKS/BOOK CHAPTERS/EDITED COLLECTIONS

Aviram, Hadar. (2018). “Gray is the New Orange: Older, Infirm Female Inmates and the Liminal Space between Human and Animal.” In Shirley A. Jackson & Laurie Gordy (Eds.), Caged Women: Incarceration, Representation, & Media. New York, NY: Routledge. [More information here]

Craig, Miltonette. (2018). “Education behind Bars: What Orange is the New BlackNeglects.” In Shirley A. Jackson & Laurie Gordy (Eds.), Caged Women: Incarceration, Representation, & Media. New York, NY: Routledge. [More information here]

Garland, David. (2018 Edition). Punishment and Welfare: A History of Penal Strategies. New Orleans, LA: Quid Pro Books. [More information here]

Kinney, Edith. (2018). “The Prison within the Prison: Solitary Confinement in Orange is the New Black.” In Shirley A. Jackson & Laurie Gordy (Eds.), Caged Women: Incarceration, Representation, & Media. New York, NY: Routledge. [More information here]

Schoenfeld, Heather. (2018). Building the Prison State: Race and the Politics of Mass Incarceration. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.





If you would like your recently published book or article to be included in the next digest,
please send your citation information to Miltonette Craig (mocraig@fsu.edu) by May 31.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Next Digital Speaker Series: Cox on "Trapped in a Vice: The Consequences of Confinement for Young People”

Punishment & Society CRN Digital Speaker Series

Thursday, February 22, 12:30-2:00 EST
(YouTube link will be sent out shortly before the talk begins)

Alexandra Cox, University of Essex

Trapped in a Vice:
The Consequences of Confinement for Young People


This talk will share the findings of a book, Trapped in a Vice: the Consequences of Confinement for Young People, which explores the consequences of a juvenile justice system that is aimed at promoting change in the lives of young people, yet ultimately relies upon tools and strategies that enmesh them in a system that they struggle to move beyond.  The system, rather than the crimes themselves, is the vice.  It also acts as a vise in the lives of young people, pushing young people to change through the use of intensive interventions and services, but also pulling them away from meaningful opportunities for growth and development. The book explores the lives of the young people and adults in New York’s justice system, revealing the ways that they struggle to manage the expectations of that system; these stories from the ground level of the justice system reveal the complex exchange of policy and practice.

If you are interested in presenting your work sometime this year, please email us!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

How many prisoners work in the US today? It's hard to say.

The following is a guest post by Michael Gibson-Light.

I recently replied to an inquiry from a reporter interested in prison labor in the United States. Expecting to respond to questions about the on-the-ground practice or management of penal labor, I was instead asked a basic question: How many prisoners actually work in the US? The answer to this, which should be easy to find, is actually a bit tricky. It is by now common knowledge that the nation's prison system is itself a massive institution, holding over 1.3 million individuals at any given time and over 2.2 million at some point throughout a year. But statistics on how many of the incarcerated engage in labor programs behind bars today is not as readily available. In hopes of assisting other folks who have the same question, I wanted to share what information is systematically available on the topic.

The most recent hard numbers on prison labor participation come from the "Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities, 2005" from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Estimates suggest that the trends observed in this census hold for state and federal institutions today (for a recent example see Hatton 2017), but BJS reports have not yet been updated to confirm this. 

So here's what penal labor looked like in 2005:
  • Of the 1,227,402 prisoners in state prisons at the point of data collection, 775,469 (63%) engaged in some form of labor program behind bars (more, if we were to only count able-bodied prisoners not held at restrictive custody levels). The numbers for federal prisons weren't reported, but they hold a much smaller prisoner population overall and we might safely assume that the rates are the same if not higher. (As an illustration, state prisons in 2017 held over 1.3 million individuals while federal prisons held 197,000.)
  • 88% of all state and federal prison facilities had some form (often several forms) of prisoner work programs.
  • Such programs were more prominent in public prisons than private prisons. 97% of publicly managed institutions put prisoners to work, while only 54% of private institutions did so.
  • Within prisons that rely on prisoner labor, the most common positions are "facility support" positions, which include things like kitchen work, maintenance, etc. around the institution. 74% of these state and federal prisons housed these program.
  • In addition, 44% of facilities operated "public works" programs, in which working prisoners engage in highway cleanup, park and forestry maintenance, etc. in surrounding municipalities.
  • Next, 31% of state and federal prisons housed "correctional industries" programs. These are state-run programs which find prisoners engaging in a variety of productive labors (and sometimes limited service work) to benefit state and sometimes private consumers. For instance, correctional industries programs manufacture license plates, office furniture, paper products, uniforms, street signs, etc.
  • Finally, 28% of prisons allowed prisoners to engage in some form of "work release" in 2005, through which they engaged in work relationships with public institutions or private firms beyond the walls of the prison.

HERE is a direct link to the 2005 BJS report for those interested, which contains other information relevant to penal labor.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has stated that they plan to release an updated report at some point, following further data collection (the last time I asked was around two years ago and I was told that they had plans to field another round of the census some time in 2017). With any luck, we'll have updated official numbers soon, but these are the best data available for now.

In the meantime, if anyone has their own data on prison labor programming that they're willing to share, please do! 


(Michael Gibson-Light is an ABD student at the University of Arizona School of Sociology. His dissertation entails an 18-month ethnographic study of the structure of penal labor, the practices and strategies of working prisoners, and the formal and informal economic outcomes of work behind bars in a US men's state prison. More information can be found on his personal website.)