Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Member Publications: April 2022 Edition


Collaborative Research Network: Punishment and Society


Hadar Aviram, UC Hastings College of Law, USA 

Ashley Rubin, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, USA




April 2022



Cooper-Knock, S. J. and Gail Super. (equal co-authors) 2022. “Civic-Led Banishment in South Africa: Punishment, Authority, and Spatialised Precarity.” Antipode 54(1): 174-196. [Access it here]

Civic-led banishment, a fundamentally spatial punishment, is an understudied phenomenon in South Africa and beyond. We define it as “a punitive spatial practice, enacted by non-state actors in response to alleged criminality or deviance, which attempts varying degrees of socio-spatial expulsion over time”. This definition lays the framework for a socio-spatial analysis of punishment, and yields insights into the exercise of socio-spatial control in public and private space. We emphasise the specific challenges associated with banishment, together with the relationship between space, punishment, public authority, and sovereignty. We demonstrate how “negotiations” around banishment trade off two forms of intersecting precarity: those faced by residents in informal settlements and the potential precarity of public authorities. Finally, we argue that an exploration of all forms of punishment through the lens of socio-spatial expulsion enables us to tap into conversations around penal abolitionism.

Davis, Andrew P., Michael Gibson-Light, Eric Bjorklund, and Teron Nunley. 2022. “Institutional Arrangements and Power Threat: Diversity, Democracy, and Punitive Attitudes.” Justice Quarterly. Online first. [Access it here]

This research synthesizes studies on crime and punishment, work in political sociology, and race and ethnicity scholarship in order to theorize and empirically examine the democratic foundations of group threat theory. We argue that ethnic diversity is particularly threatening when coupled with robust democratic institutions that empower individuals to pose challenges to the extant political and social order. Making use of recent measurement advances in the study of democracy, this article uses multi-level modeling techniques across 39,926 survey respondents in 27 countries from the fifth wave of the European Social Survey to test the extent to which punitive attitudes toward criminals were associated with interaction effects of an index of ethnic diversity and democratic quality. Results strongly confirm our theoretical predictions that robust democratic institutions condition the effect of ethnic fractionalization on punitive attitudes in Europe.

de Souza, Poppy and Emma K. Russell. 2022. “Sensing the border(s): Sound and carceral intimacies in and beyond indefinite detention.” Crime, Media, Culture. [Access it here]

This article examines a sound-based digital project co-created with refugees and asylum seekers held in indefinite detention in Australia and Papua New Guinea to advance understandings of the sensory violence of borders – and resistance to borders – and their reordering of intimate realms. In where are you today (2020), refugees/asylum seekers catalogued their carceral environments in 10-minute sonic vignettes which were distributed to listeners daily via text message, for 30 consecutive days. Drawing on sensory methodologies and feminist orientations towards the intimate, the article considers how this sound project alerts us to an alternative sensory politics attuned to the quiet, quotidian and exhausting labour of resisting Australia’s racialised border regime. Through a close listening to selected recordings, we argue the intimacies shared through where are you today produce knowledge about embodied practices of care, breath, touch and waiting in indefinite detention. Networked, transborder sound projects can unsettle both incarcerated and non-incarcerated subjects’ relationships to their environments, opening affiliative possibilities for coming into relation with the border(s) in new ways. We conclude that the project’s creators forge and sustain carceral intimacies within and despite the border’s affective violence, and that sound is a particularly affective and evocative means of conveying and creating these intimacies, in and beyond indefinite detention.

Gibson-Light, Michael. 2022. “Remote Control: Horizontal Surveillance and the Gendering of Carceral Punishment.” Theoretical Criminology. Online first. [Access it here]

Research traditionally suggests that men incarcerated in the USA regard horizontal surveillance—that is, monitoring the behaviors of other prisoners—as antithetical to notions of masculinity behind bars. Yet, following an 18-month ethnography in a US prison for men, this article reveals that the imprisoned may in fact embrace prisoner-on-prisoner monitoring tied to labor. It details how participants in this institution sought out peer surveillants who had the power to grant referrals to more desirable jobs. Within prison worksites, individuals further policed peers’ production and service quality. Labor-based horizontal surveillance was integral to performances of masculinity related to employment status and work ethic. Drawing on labor scholarship as well as studies of surveillance in other penal settings, this article reveals how supervision maps onto gendered beliefs about work, offending, and contemporary American corrections in ways that contribute to carceral agendas and broader systems of control.

Jiang, Jize and Jingwei Liu. 2022. “Penal Welfare or Penal Sovereignty? A Political Sociology of Recent Formalization of Chinese Community Corrections.” Punishment & Society. Online first. [Access it here]

In this study, we address two observed gaps in existing accounts on Chinese community corrections (hereafter CCC): 1) lack of multilevel understanding of this penal institution’s local variations in a highly centralized penal regime; 2) inadequate scrutiny of political logics of, and the authoritarian state’s significance in, its recent formal introduction. Those limits may inhibit adequate understandings of state power and punishment in an authoritarian polity like China. To that end, we argue for a multilayered and hybrid conceptualization of CCC as an assemblage of penal welfare and penal sovereignty to understand CCC’s formation and function. Fracturing the holistic entity of CCC, our study challenges the approach to viewing it as a system of singular logics and unifying structure, and contrasts three modes of operational practices across localities—bureaucratic, professionalization, and technology-dominant models. Moreover, our analysis of its political functions suggests that in effect penal sovereignty subjugates penal welfare within contemporary Chinese penality. Far from heralding the full-fledged rise of Chinese penal welfare, this legal formalization represents a space created for the authoritarian state to penetrate political ideologies, and to reclaim, consolidate and exercise sovereign power through managerial penal strategies in a rapidly developing and differentiating society.

Jouet, Mugambi. forthcoming 2022. “The Day Canada Said No to the Death Penalty in the United States: Innocence, Dignity, and the Evolution of Abolitionism.” UBC Law Review. [Access it here]

Sociolegal scholarship has explored why the United States stands alone among Western democracies in retaining capital punishment. Yet the focus on America-Europe comparisons has obscured the twentieth anniversary of a landmark Canadian decision, United States v. Burns, barring the extradition of two men wanted for capital murder in America. Intriguingly, it emulated the evolution of American abolitionism by centering on the risk of executing the innocent; and declining to recognize capital punishment as an inherent violation of human dignity as in European law. This Article situates these events in their wider historical, societal, and comparative context, which offers a stepping stone to theorize key questions regarding the evolution of prisoners’ rights.

Miscarriages of justice have always existed and have been a constitutive issue in Western civilization, from the trials of Socrates and Jesus to the birth of the English of Bill of Rights onto the French Revolution and beyond. The tendency to cast innocence as a newfound problem has a neglected underside, as it partly stems from the “tough-on-crime” movement’s rise in American society since the 1980s. As empathy toward the guilty became illegitimate, the anti-death-penalty movement gravitated toward the innocent. Given the United States’ capacity to influence foreign debates, this approach found its way into the Supreme Court of Canada’s reasoning, thereby exemplifying how social actors may be tempted to avoid the normative issues surrounding the death penalty by focusing on innocence. However, abolitionism has had a humanistic component since the Enlightenment, which spurred a larger normative evolution recognizing human dignity as a benchmark of punishment in liberal democracies. Eclipsing human dignity from the death-penalty debate may thus reflect ambivalence toward prisoners’ rights, as attitudes toward capital punishment and imprisonment are intertwined. Despite having abolished the death penalty several decades ago, Canada and European nations remain ambivalent toward protecting prisoners’ human dignity. Meanwhile, the de-legitimization of dignity in the United States helps explain why mass incarceration parallels capital punishment’s retention. Dignity is nonetheless gaining traction as a legal principle in these societies and worldwide. At this critical juncture, the Article provides a window into under-studied chapters of history by analyzing the intersection of dignity, innocence, and liberal democracy.

Jouet, Mugambi. 2021. “Juveniles Are Not So Different: The Punishment of Juveniles and Adults at the Crossroads.” Federal Sentencing Reporter 33(4): 278-84. [Access it here]

The “juveniles are different” doctrine is gaining ground in America. It holds that children, unlike adults, should not receive merciless punishments like life without parole given their immaturity, impulsivity, and limited brain development. The doctrine’s impact has been both significant and modest because it operates in an exceptionally repressive context considering the advent of mass incarceration. Unless construed more broadly, it may help rationalize draconian sentences for adults and cement the status quo.

This Article offers a wider historical and comparative perspective. Over time age has recurrently served to legitimize punitiveness toward children or adults. America has oscillated between deeming that juveniles deserve fewer rights than adults, that they deserve more rights or that they should essentially be treated the same. After diverse paradigm shifts, mass incarceration led to a downward-leveling process whereby juveniles were punished just as ruthlessly as adults. “Juveniles are different” was a reaction to this trend, although punitive assumptions undergird its rigid age carve-outs. This Article calls for a new phase: an upward-leveling process under which juveniles’ emerging right to be free from merciless punishments would apply to everyone. This is the norm in other Western democracies, which have gravitated toward universal human rights and moderate punishment. A broader outlook may spell the difference between a conception of “juveniles are different” casting adults as irredeemable and a stepping stone toward meaningful systemic reform.

Kupchik, Aaron. 2022. “Rethinking School Suspensions.” Contexts 21(1): 14-19. [Access it here]

When used too frequently, exclusionary school punishment like out-of-school suspensions are ineffective and harmful. The harms to students are clear, though excessive use of school suspensions also impacts entire schools, students’ families, and communities. Because youth of color are at greater risk of school punishments, these harms disproportionately limit their life opportunities and exacerbate racial inequality. To better understand how and why we punish students the way we do, sociologists need to understand school punishment as rooted in a historical legacy of racial oppression and denial of educational opportunities to Black children.

Phelps, Michelle S., Christopher E. Robertson, and Amber Joy Powell. 2021. “‘We're still dying quicker than we can effect change’: #BlackLivesMatter and the Limits of 21st-Century Policing Reform.” American Journal of Sociology 127(3): 867-903. [Access it here]

Black Lives Matter protests in the mid-2010s thrust police violence into the public spotlight, highlighting the stark racial divide in experiences with law enforcement and prompting a wave of police reform. We examine how residents in low-income neighborhoods on the Northside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, made sense of this focus on police violence and reform across racial lines. Drawing on interviews with a diverse sample of 112 adults, we show that there was broad consensus on the social problem of racialized police violence, but Black residents perceived the problem as more severe, more persistent, and in need of more dramatic forms of racial redressment than their white neighbors.

Phelps, Michelle S., Anneliese Ward, and Dwjuan Frazier. 2021. “From Police Reform to Police Abolition? How Minneapolis Activists Fought to Make Black Lives Matter.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly (Special Issue on the Black Lives Movement) 26(4): 421–441. [Access it here]

The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers in 2020 was a watershed moment, triggering protests across the country and unprecedented promises by city leaders to “end” the MPD. We use interviews and archival materials to understand the roots of this decision, tracing the emergent split between activists fighting for police reform and police abolition in the wake of the initial Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in Minneapolis. We compare the frames used by these two sets of movement actors, arguing that abolitionists deployed more radical frames to disrupt hegemonic understandings of policing, while other activists fought to resonate with the existing discursive structure. After years of police reform, Floyd’s death and the rebellion that followed gave abolitionist discourses more resonance. In the discussion, we consider the future of public safety in Minneapolis and its implications for understanding frame resonance in Black movements.

Rennie, Ailie and Ben Crewe. 2022. “‘Tightness’, autonomy and release: The anticipated pains of release and life licencing.” The British Journal of Criminology. Online first. [Access it here]

This article explores how men serving mandatory life sentences in England and Wales anticipate life after release and the imposition of a life licence. It reports the various ways that lifers feared licencing as being exceedingly ‘tight’ and restrictive, sometimes resulting in them retreating from release altogether. At the same time, some participants reported a motivation to embrace the ‘tightness’ of their impending licence conditions, and use penal power as a means of structuring life on release. Whether they resisted or embraced penal intervention, all participants altered their aspirations to what seemed achievable upon release when subject to numerous conditions. Specifically, the article argues that the anticipation of a particular mode of penal power has a material effect on lifers’ approach to release.

Rountree, Meredith M. and Mary R. Rose. 2021. “The Complexities of Conscience: Reconciling Death Penalty Law with Capital Jurors’ Concerns.” Buffalo Law Review 69(5): 1237-1328. [Access it here]

Jurors exercise unique legal power when they are asked to decide whether to sentence someone to death. The Supreme Court emphasizes the central role of the jury’s moral judgment in making this sentencing decision, noting that it is the jurors who are best able to “express the conscience of the community on the ultimate question of life or death.” Manylower courts nevertheless narrow the range of admissible evidence at the mitigation phase of a capital trial, insisting on a standard of legal relevance that interferes with the jury’s ability to exercise the very moral judgment the Supreme Court has deemed essential.

Combining moral theory and original empirical evidence, this Article breaks new ground by linking these to a legal framework that gives full effect to the Supreme Court’s vision of the jury. Aided by a novel dataset of federal capital jury verdict forms, this Article focuses on three types of evidence frequently excluded in state and federal courts: the impact of the defendant’s execution on loved ones, co-participant sentences, and the government’s negligent facilitation of the murder.

The data show that jurors consistently find all three forms of evidence highly relevant to their mitigation deliberations. Further, two of these—execution impact evidence and co-participant sentences—have a statistically significant correlation with the jurors’ sentencing decision. This Article’s empirical and moral account of juror behavior strongly supports expanding the admissibility of this evidence to reflect the Supreme Court’s evolution in defining the relevance of mitigating evidence as a moral—rather than legalistic—question, appropriately recognizing the jury’s normative role.

Super, Gail. 2022. “Cars, Compounds and Containers: Judicial and Extrajudicial Infrastructures of Punishment in the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ South Africa.” Punishment & Society. Online first. [Access it here]

This paper examines non-state infrastructures of vigilante violence in marginalized spaces in South Africa. I argue that car trunks, shacks, containers, and other everyday receptacles function as the underside of official institutions, such as prisons and police lock-ups, and bear historical imprints of the extrajudicial punishments inflicted on black bodies during colonialism and apartheid. I focus on two techniques: forcing someone into the trunk of a vehicle and driving them around to locate stolen property, and confinement in garages, shacks, containers, or local public spaces. Whereas in formerly ‘whites only’ areas, residents have access to insurance, guards, gated communities, fortified fences, and well-resourced neighbourhood watches, in former black townships and informal settlements, this is not the case. Here, the boot, the shack, the shed, the car, and the minibus taxi play multiple roles, including as vectors and spaces of confinement, torture, and execution. Thus, spatiotemporality affects both how penal forms permeate space and time, and how space and time constitute penal forms. These vigilante kidnappings and forcible confinements are not mere instances of gratuitous violence. Instead, they mimic, distort, and amplify the violence that underpins the state's unrealized monopoly over the violence inherent in its claims to police and punish.

Super, Gail and Ana Ballesteros Pena. 2022. “Violence and Bordering on the Margins of the State: A View From South Africa and the Southern Border of Spain.” Theoretical Criminology. Online first. [Access it here]

This article examines expulsions in and around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and in informal settlements in former black townships in South Africa. These violent bordering processes expose the violent injustices that constitute the boundaries of lawful (liberal) law, and the violence that sovereigns use to secure territories. Drawing on Walter Benjamin we make three main theoretical arguments. First, that the bordering processes in our case studies are instances of law (and State) preserving violence. Second, that absence and responsibilization are central techniques for invisibilizing the role of violence in preserving law, and that abdication of jurisdiction is key to the exercise of state sovereignty. Third, that when the State preserves itself through sharing its monopoly over violence the fictitious distinction between law and violence collapses. We use the term ‘borderline lawful violence’ to highlight the precarious nature of the boundary between lawful and unlawful violence.

Wulff, Stephen. 2022. “Flipping the ‘New Penology’ Script: Police Misconduct Insurance, Grassroots Activism, and Risk Management-Based Reform.” Law & Social Inquiry 47(1): 162-204. [Access it here]

Through a multi-method qualitative case study, I examine the failed 2016 ballot campaign of the Committee for Professional Policing (CfPP), a police accountability group in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In attempting to make Minneapolis the first city nationwide to require police to carry professional liability insurance, the CfPP turned the logic of Malcolm M. Feeley and Jonathan Simon’s “new penology” paradigm onto police. Their thesis argues that a contemporary penal shift occurred away from rehabilitation toward managing aggregates of dangerous criminal categories through risk management approaches. I extend their thesis in a new direction by examining how—in the emerging age of “algorithmic risk governance”—social movement organizations, like the CfPP, are starting to invert the new penology onto criminal justice personnel. In flipping the script, the CfPP called for a new private insurance market using mandatory police misconduct insurance to manage aggregates of dangerous police officers. After highlighting how the CfPP developed new penological objectives, discourses, and technologies, I discuss the implications of grassroots groups adopting and redefining traditional penal logics and propose future research avenues.


Corda, Alessandro and Johannes Kaspar. 2022. “Collateral consequences of criminal conviction in the United States and Germany.” Pp. 392-437 in Core Concepts in Criminal Law and Criminal JusticeVol. 2, edited by Kai Ambos, Antony Duff, Alexander Heinze, Julian Roberts, and Thomas Weigend. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [More information here]

The chapter focuses on so-called collateral consequences of criminal conviction. Especially in the US, these are usually defined as civil restrictions and disabilities flowing from a conviction burdening individuals during the re-entry process. However, we argue, the term should also encompass those penalties and measures that are additional or ancillary to the main punishment, and yet internal to the criminal law and imposed at the sentencing stage of the criminal process. The chapter maps the rise, development and current state of collateral consequences, focusing in particular on the United States and Germany. We begin with a systematic overview of the two legal traditions considered, outlining the history and reality of collateral consequences and analysing their nature and functions (both stated and latent). After discussing the classification and understanding of collateral sanctions in the Anglo-American and German contexts, we focus on what safeguards exist and are applied (or neglected) in the two legal orders to prevent such penalties from having a disproportionate and cumulative burdensome effect on ex-offenders. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical rationales offered to justify collateral consequences, putting forward modest reform proposals for a new approach from a criminal justice perspective We argue that, regardless of formal punitive labels, onerous collateral consequences should be (if not abolished) at least integrated as much as possible within the sentencing process, making them transparent and enabling courts to ensure the overall proportionality of the ‘sanctioning package’ arising from a criminal conviction.

Dal Santo, Luiz Phelipe. 2022. “Killing and Letting Die: Depicting the Brazilian Conundrum Between Police Killings and Private Lethal Practices.” Pp. 329-349 in Guns, Gun Violence and Gun Homicides, edited by Wendell C. Wallace. Palgrave Macmillan. [More information here]

Rates of imprisonment have long been used to compare levels of punitiveness among nations. The lower they are, the more tolerant a society is considered to be. Some authors have argued this may be misleading though, since it does not provide us with a full picture of penal practices and their harshness. In this chapter, I explore two aspects of the Brazilian case which can contribute to this debate on punishment and society. In so doing, I highlight two common punitive practices in the Global South, despite them being overlooked in the Northern literature. Drawing on secondary and official data, I first analyze the high levels of homicide in the country and the lack of state intervention—be it punishment or mere investigation. I then turn my attention to the police lethal action, another systemic practice in peripheral countries. While the first scenario indicates the so-called ‘absence of the State’ (and the police) constitutes a condition for the reproduction of tens of thousands of homicides per year, state interventions can also be problematic, resulting in other thousands of deaths. Here lies a duality of the Brazilian state: killing and letting die. In both contexts, guns are the instrument used in the vast majority of the killings. Therefore, guns are used both as means of solving private conflicts and as the state exercise of power, meaning that they play a key role in the Brazilian society, particularly in terms of producing (dis)order and social control.

Kaufman, Sarah Beth, William Christ, and Habiba Noor. 2022. To Be Honest: Voices on Donald Trump's Muslim Ban. Trinity University Press. [More information here]

To Be Honest is a documentary theatre script and series of essays reflecting on the ways Muslims are perceived and spoken of in the contemporary United States. With funding from a Mellon Foundation grant, researchers conducted more than two hundred hours of qualitative interviews in Texas with people across religious and political spectrums, during the lead-in to the 2016 Presidential election. To Be Honest was born from these interviews, illuminating Americans' vastly different experiences with Islam, from evangelicals who work to convert Muslims with the aim of “helping them achieve peace” to Muslim youth who struggle to make sense of why society dissects their religion. Students, scholars, readers, and theatergoers will find a valuable tool for examining their own biases and encouraging dialogue across ideological perspectives.

Schept, Judah. 2022. Coal, Cages, Crisis: The Rise of the Prison Economy in Central Appalachia. New York University Press. [More information here]

"As the United States began the project of mass incarceration, rural communities turned to building prisons as a strategy for economic development. More than 350 prisons have been built in the U.S. since 1980, with certain regions of the country accounting for large shares of this dramatic growth. Central Appalachia is one such region; there are eight prisons alone in Eastern Kentucky. If Kentucky were its own country, it would have the seventh highest incarceration rate in the world. In Coal, Cages, Crisis, Judah Schept takes a closer look at this stunning phenomenon, providing insight into prison growth, jail expansion and rising incarceration rates in America’s hinterlands.

Drawing on interviews, site visits, and archival research, Schept traces recent prison growth in the region to the rapid decline of its coal industry. He takes us inside this startling transformation occurring in the coalfields, where prisons are often built on top of old coalmines, including mountaintop removal sites, and built into community planning approaches to crises of unemployment, population loss, and declining revenues. By linking prison growth to other sites in this landscape—coal mines, coal waste, landfills, and incinerators—Schept shows that the prison boom has less to do with crime and punishment and much more with the overall extraction, depletion, and waste disposal processes that characterize dominant development strategies for the region.

Schept argues that the future of this area now hangs in the balance, detailing recent efforts to oppose its carceral growth. Coal, Cages, Crisis offers invaluable insight into the complex dynamics of mass incarceration that continue to shape Appalachia and the broader United States."


Dwyer, Patrick. 2022. Book review: Disruptive prisoners: Resistance, reform, and the new deal. By Chris Clarkson and Melissa Munn. Law & Society Review 56(1): 146-147 [Access it here]



Bardelli, Tommaso, Ruqauyah Zarook, and Derick McCarthy. March 7, 2022. “How Corporations Turned Prison Tablets Into a Predatory Scheme.” Dissent Magazine. [Access it here]


“Prison iPads” became a lifeline during the pandemic. They also became a new way to squeeze money out of the incarcerated and their families.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Members' Publications: November Edition

As compiled by Kaitlyn Quinn


Collaborative Research Network: Punishment and Society


Hadar Aviram, UC Hastings College of Law, USA 

Ashley Rubin, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, USA




November 2021



Belt, Rabia. 2021. “Mass Institutionalization and Civil Death.” NYU Law Review 96(4): 857-900. [Access it here]

Most scholars who study felon disenfranchisement trace its roots back to Reconstruction. Southern states drew up laws to disenfranchise people convicted of felonies as an ostensibly race-neutral way to diminish the political power of newly freed Black Americans. Viewed against this historical backdrop, the onset of mass incarceration in the current era expands the impact of a practice intended to be both racist and punitive from the start. 


This account is true, but it is incomplete. Non-criminal mass institutionalization has also played—and continues to play—a role in systematic disenfranchisement. Marshaling a wealth of archival and historical evidence, from newspapers, legislative debates, congressional hearings, and court cases, I reveal that institutional disenfranchisement is not just about mass incarceration—a singular phenomenon sparked by the Civil War that happens solely within the carceral state and targeted only freed Black people. Institutional disenfranchisement began much earlier, included more spaces than the prison, and initially targeted white men. Indeed, the more familiar prison disenfranchisement had a shadowy twin within the welfare state. Civil death includes more ghosts than previously imagined.

Ben-Natan, Smadar. 2021. “Self-Proclaimed Human Rights Heroes: The Professional Project of Israeli Military Judges.” Law & Social Inquiry 46(3):755-787. [Access it here]

This article explores the cooptation of human rights discourse by looking into how Israeli military judges in the Occupied Palestinian Territories use human rights as professional capital. Previous research into human rights arguments legitimizing the Israeli occupation remained confined to a unitary image of the state. Here, I dissect the separate professional project of military judges. Optimizing a self-congratulatory argument, judges portray themselves as human rights heroes of Palestinians. But while independent judicial activism would criticize human rights violations by the state, military judges use human rights as synonymous with legal professionalism, while avoiding criticism and sidestepping human rights’ challenge to state power.

Using a multimethod approach including analysis of judicial decisions, academic articles by military judges, and in-depth interviews, I argue that between 2000 and 2010, Israeli military judges were responding to a professional legitimacy crisis by what I call mimetic convergence. Relying on new institutionalism and postcolonial theory, mimetic convergence produces belonging and mobility for a professional subgroup that experiences alienation in the “colony” through convergence with the specific characteristics of the legal community of the “metropole.” Mimicking the state instead of criticizing it permits the two projects—promoting military judges professionally and legitimizing the state’s colonial occupation—to coalesce.

Ben-Natan, Smadar. 2021. “The Dual Penal Empire: Emergency Powers and Military Courts in Palestine/Israel and Beyond.” Punishment & Society (Special Issue: Legacies of Empire). Online first. [Access it here]

This article explores the duality of emergency powers and criminal law in old and new formations of empire. Set against the backdrop of the US “war on terror,” I link discussions around current articulations of empire and the treatment of “enemy combatants,” illuminating new connections between empire, emergency, and “enemy penology.” Focusing on Palestine/Israel, I explore the duality created by emergency powers and criminal law from the late British Empire to contemporary Israel/Palestine as an “imperial formation.” Through a genealogy of emergency legislation, military courts, and two case studies from the 1980s Israel, I show how emergency powers constitute a penal regime that complements ordinary criminal law through prosecutions of racialized enemy populations under a distinct exclusionary and punitive legality. Building on Markus Dubber's Dual Penal State, I demonstrate how the—openly illiberal—dual penal empire (i) suppresses political resistance (insurgency, rebellion, and terrorism) and (ii) institutionalizes enemy penology through emergency statutes and military courts. Thus, in imperial formations, such as Israel and the US—which deny their illiberal features—emergency powers are framed as preventive security and denied as part of the penal system, while enemy penology operates in plain sight.

Friedman, Brittany. 2021. “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Prison Order in the Wake of COVID-19 and Its Afterlives: When Disaster Collides with Institutional Death by Design.” Sociological Perspectives 64(5): 689-705. [Access it here]

In this article, I bridge critical sociological perspectives on penal institutions with insights from the sociology of disaster to advance a critical race theory of prison order in the wake of COVID-19 and its afterlives. Penal institutions officially categorize people as detainees, inmates, or prisoners in order to deliberately relegate human beings to a degraded social status, ultimately in service of an intentionally racist system. I theorize why prisons are natural epicenters for COVID-19, identifying the following institutional parameters as social factors: (1) death is by institutional design, where prison order is arranged so that people categorized as prisoners die socially, psychically, and physically; (2) promoting institutional survival rather than human survival is second nature during a disaster because the preexisting social organization of prison life serves this purpose; and (3) when a disaster strikes causing severe loss to people and resources, uncertainty is managed by implementing strategies that magnify the death(s) of incarcerated people in exchange for the life of the institution.

Gurusami, Susila and Rahim Kurwa (equal authors). 2021 “From Broken Windows to Broken Homes: Homebreaking as Racialized and Gendered Poverty Governance.” Feminist Formations 33(1): 1-32. [Access it here]

Broken windows policing is traditionally understood as a tactic of governing public space, but in this essay, we show how this mode of policing also constitutes a war on domestic space. We take up Joy James’s call to investigate how the domestic of domestic warfare necessitates an understanding of the home and household, and we ask how the state leverages broken windows–style policing to govern the home. Drawing from three different cases in Los Angeles County—gang injunctions, post- release supervision, and housing vouchers—we use ethnographic data, interviews, and court filings to show how the state treats the homes of people of color as broken sites of disorder. We contend that it is the state that engages in homebreaking, not the residents. Contextualized within Black feminist scholarship, we identify homebreaking as the state’s attempt to break the home as a site of social reproduction and refuge from oppression, one of many state practices that fracture families of color and their homes, and we identify and examine two such stages of homebreaking: spying—surveillance of the home in ways that mark everyday behaviors and conditions as disordered and punishable; and raiding—punitive state intrusion that forces changes on the home or leads to punishment for perceived disorder.

Hanan, M. Eve. 2021. “Incarcerated Activism During Covid-19.” Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 18(2): 475-513. [Access it here]


Incarcerated people have a notoriously difficult time advocating for themselves. Like other authoritarian institutions, prisons severely curtail and often punish speech, organizing, and self-advocacy. Also, like other authoritarian institutions, prison administrators are inclined to suppress protest rather than respond to the grounds for protest. Yet, despite impediments to their participation, incarcerated people have organized during the pandemic, advocating for themselves through media channels, public forums, and the courts. Indeed, a dramatic increase in incarcerated activism correlates with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic highlights injustice in other areas of criminal legal practices, it reveals both the dangers of silencing incarcerated speech and the potential for prisoner self-advocacy. This essay discusses silencing and speech in carceral spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, using a theory of political philosophy called epistemic injustice. The theory of epistemic injustice addresses how disfavored social groups are excluded from sharing knowledge in public conversations. The stifling of prisoner speech occurs in part because incarcerated people are deliberately separated from the outside world. But it also reflects their status as a stigmatized—and thus discredited—group. Even when their speech is heard, it is discounted as manipulative and untrustworthy.

Second, this essay argues that the self-advocacy efforts made by incarcerated people during the pandemic demonstrate the democratic value of their participation. Among the necessary predicates to meaningful change in criminal legal practices is the democratic participation of the targets of those practices, including suspects, criminal defendants, and prisoners. Their participation in the political sphere serves a vital democratic function the absence of which is felt not only in the authoritarian structure of prisons, but in the failure to enact widespread change to criminal legal practices.

Hyatt, Jordan M., Valerio Baćak, and Erin M. Kerrison. 2021. “COVID-19 vaccine refusal and related factors: Preliminary findings from a system-wide survey of correctional staff.” Federal Sentencing Reporter 33(4): 272–277. [Access it here]

Since the global pandemic began in early 2020, COVID-19 has impacted almost every correctional facility in the country. In Pennsylvania, the pandemic response has required significant changes to the operation of correctional facilities and necessitated a reconsideration of the risks and responsibilities for staff. Although the risks of viral infection are not a completely new concern for people working in prisons, the highly transmissible coronavirus and the near-universal nature of the resulting pandemic has potentially changed how health and safety are viewed. To better understand these concerns, the staff of the PADOC was surveyed to allow them to self-report their perceptions of the pandemic response, the need for vaccination, and other relevant areas. This independent report draws on these data to provide insight into the current perspective held by the PADOC staff population regarding vaccination and some of the factors that are associated with that decision. In turn, these descriptive data can be used to inform the development of evidence-based public health and correctional policies during the pandemic.

Kirk, Gabriela, April D. Fernandes, and Brittany Friedman. 2020. “Who Pays for the Welfare State? Austerity Politics and the Origin of Pay-to-Stay Fees as Revenue Generation.” Sociological Perspectives 63(6): 921-938. [Access it here]

Using a comparative historical analysis of legislative transcripts and primary and secondary historical documents in Illinois and Michigan, we trace the adoption of a largely understudied form of monetary sanction: pay-to-stay fees. Pay-to-stay fees are financial commitments imposed by the state on incarcerated individuals for the day-to-day cost of their incarceration. Our study identified two mutually constitutive bureaucratic motivations for the adoption of these fees—austerity as the primary rationale and deservingness as a secondary rationale. This analysis highlights an earlier conceptualization of monetary sanctions as a means of revenue generation than has previously been explored. Our findings suggest that pay-to-stay fees originated in these states from broader debates about who is ultimately fiscally responsible for the welfare state and the soaring costs of maintaining the rehabilitative ideal. During periods of fiscal crisis, state legislators have consistently looked toward this type of monetary sanction as a means to fund the correctional system.

Laursen, Julie and Ben Laws. 2016. “Honour and respect in Danish prisons: Contesting ‘cognitive distortions’ in cognitive-behavioural programmes.” Punishment & Society 19(1): 74-95. [Access it here]

Using empirical data from prison-based cognitive-behavioural programmes, this article considers how prisoners’ subcultural capital shapes their responses to demands for ‘cognitive self-change’. We argue that accounts of ‘respect’ in the prior literature fail to capture how prisoners react to these programmes, and that a discussion of honour (and what we term ‘respect plus’) needs to be incorporated. The empirical material derives from four different cognitive-behavioural programme setups in three Danish prisons and semi-structured interviews with participants and course instructors. By attempting to create accountable and rational actors, who ‘self-manage’, the therapeutic ethos neglects participants’ life experiences and subcultural capital. Open expressions of moral values by prisoners (such as displays of honour and respect) are considered to be cognitive distortions which are dismissed by instructors, while alternative and ‘correct’ thinking styles are prescribed. Our findings advance understandings of the meanings of honour and respect in prisons in general and in cognitive-behavioural programmes in particular.

Lynch, Mona, Matt Barno, and Marisa Omori. 2021. “Prosecutors, court communities, and policy change: The impact of internal DOJ reforms on federal prosecutorial practices.” Criminology 52: 480-519. [Access it here]

The current study examines how key internal U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) policy changes have been translated into front-line prosecutorial practices. Extending courts-as-communities scholarship and research on policy implementation practices, we use U.S. Sentencing Commission data from 2004 to 2019 to model outcomes for several measures of prosecutorial discretion in federal drug trafficking cases, including the use of mandatory minimum charges and prosecutor-endorsed departures, to test the impact of the policy changes on case processing outcomes. We contrast prosecutorial measures with measures that are more impervious to discretionary manipulation, such as criminal history, and those that represent judicial and blended discretion, including judicial departures and final sentence lengths. We find a significant effect of the policy reforms on how prosecutorial tools are used across DOJ policy periods, and we find variation across districts as a function of contextual conditions, consistent with the court communities literature. We also find that a powerful driver of changes in prosecutorial practices during our most recent period is the confirmation of individual Trump-appointed U.S. Attorneys at the district level, suggesting an important theoretical place for midlevel actors in policy translation and implementation.


Maier, Katharina, Rebecca Hume, and Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land. 2021. “Crisis in Criminology: Reflections on the Concept of Crisis in the Time of COVID-19.” Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research 10: 14-37. [Access it here]

In this reflection paper, we explore the concept of crisis in criminology. Crisis is frequently used by criminologists as a defining and evaluative category in empirical examinations of policing and incarceration, for example. Despite its frequent use, the concept of crisis has received little attention in contemporary criminological work. We call on scholars in the field to recognize crisis as an important defining category in criminology. Crisis demands our critical attention as we not only navigate the current global health pandemic and the existing, deep-seated social crises that emanate from our penal institutions, but importantly, also observe how the former impacts the latter. To this end, we propose a range of considerations that we find particularly salient to criminologists in this time of crisis. 

Maier, Katharina and Rosemary Ricciardelli. 2021. “‘Prison didn’t change me, I have changed’: Narratives of change, self, and prison time.” Criminology & Criminal Justice. Online first. [Access it here]

Drawing on interview data with over 50 male former prisoners in Ontario, Canada, we examine male ex-prisoners’ narratives of change within prison settings. Specifically, we focus on how ex-prisoners talk about change to self and their persona, as they reflect back on both their pre-prison selves and the ways they believe prison changed them. We find that these ex-prisoners described prison as a time where they developed a more general sense of positive change. Ex-prisoners described how prison living made them “calmer,” “stronger,” and more “patient” overall. These descriptions stand in tension with the overall hostility of prison environments where prisoners are forced to focus on survival and basic well-being as they navigate the risks and threats of prison living. Overall, in this article, we seek to contribute to emerging discussions on positivity within prison settings, acknowledging that studying the more positive impacts of prison is a delicate yet important endeavor necessary to help better understand the experiential complexities of punishment.

Mamet, Elliot. 2021. “Representation on the Periphery: The Past and Future of Non-Voting Members of Congress.” American Political Thought 10(3): 390-418. [Access it here]

Nonvoting representatives, representing American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC, inhabit a peripheral space within the US Congress. House rules bar them from voting on the floor, their authority derives not from the Constitution but from statute, and the office they hold can be revoked at the whims of Congress. Drawing on original archival research, this article sketches out three justifications given for this institution: that nonvoting members would increase information flows to the legislature, that they would incorporate peripheral territory prior to statehood, and that they would empower members to use tools besides voting to exercise political power. It then evaluates the normative status of nonvoting representation in democratic theory, arguing that representation without voting is incongruent with notions of consent and equal power required for democratic self-rule.

Page, Joshua and Joe Soss. 2021. “The Predatory Dimensions of Criminal Justice.” Science 374(6565): 291-294. [Access it here]

Over the past 35 years, public and private actors have turned US criminal justice institutions into a vast network of revenue-generating operations. Today, practices such as fines, fees, forfeitures, prison charges, and bail premiums transfer billions of dollars from oppressed communities to governments and corporations. Guided by scholarship on racial capitalism, we argue that to understand how and why criminal justice operates as it does today, one must attend to its predatory dimensions. Analytically and politically, the concept of predation connects diverse forms of criminal legal takings to one another, to the extractive regimes of earlier eras, and to contemporary businesses that financially exploit subjugated communities. Analyses that focus on predatory relations encourage a reconsideration of some dominant understandings in the study of criminal justice today.

Phelps, Michelle S. and Amber M. Hamilton. 2021. “Visualizing Injustice or Reifying Racism? Images in the Digital Media Coverage of the Killing of Michael Brown.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. Online first. [Access it here]

The explosion of Black Lives Matter protests in the mid-2010s rendered visible state violence against Black Americans, producing a barrage of images and videos of lethal police violence and the protests that followed. These images served as a powerful site of contestation about the meaning of race and racism in the United States for both movement supporters and critics. We examine these dynamics through the lens of media coverage of the pivotal 2014 killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson and the protests that followed in Ferguson, MO. Drawing from literatures on race, visuality, and media studies, we explore how media outlets pictured the killing of Michael Brown and the protests in Ferguson, either resisting or reproducing the white racial frame through the selection of images in their coverage. We analyze the images in digital media coverage across nine ideologically diverse media outlets in the month after Brown’s death and the month following the non-indictment of Officer Wilson. Across 1,303 articles, we show that most sites did not center images of violence against Brown, preferring instead images of Brown’s life and, more commonly, protesters and law enforcement. While we found few consistent differences in image categories preferred across outlets’ ideological profiles, the specific content and tone of these images starkly diverged, with liberal sites choosing humanizing images of Brown and protesters and conservative sites favoring criminalizing images. We conclude by considering the role media images play in mediating perceptions of race and racism.

Powell, Amber Joy and Michelle S. Phelps. 2021. “Gendered Racial Vulnerability: How Women Confront Crime and Criminalization.” Law & Society Review 55(3): 429-451. [Access it here]

Prior research illustrates how race-class subjugated communities are over-policed and under-protected, producing high rates of victimization by other community members and the police. Yet few studies explore how gender and race structure dual frustration, despite a long line of Black feminist scholarship on the interpersonal, gender-based, and state violence Black and other women of color face. Drawing on interviews with 53 women in Minneapolis from 2017 to 2019, we examine how gendered racial vulnerability to both crime and criminalization shape dual frustration toward the law. Findings illustrate that police fail to protect women of color from neighborhood and gender-based violence, while simultaneously targeting them and their families. Despite their spatial proximity to women of color, white women remained largely shielded from the dual frustration of crime and criminalization. Attention to the gendered racial dimensions of dual frustration offers an intersectional framework for understanding women's vulnerability to violence and cultural orientations toward the law.

Ravid, Itay, Jordan Hyatt, and Steve Chanenson. 2021. “A Dose of Dignity: Equitable Vaccination Policies for Incarcerated People and Correctional Staff During the Covid-19 Pandemic.” Southern California Law Review Postscript 95(PS1). [Access it here]

Since its emergence in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the lives of millions of Americans. As it so often is during times of crisis, our most vulnerable communities have disproportionately suffered and were overlooked. Among these myriad communities, incarcerated people became a particularly potent symbol of our failure to handle the spread of the virus. In December 2020, a beacon of hope emerged with the introduction of new cutting-edge vaccines which promised to bring the world back to where it was just a year-and-a-half ago. Here again, however, policy and politics have led states to adopt different distribution plans that, broadly speaking, deprioritized incarcerated populations and in some cases correctional staff as well. While vaccinations are now much more widespread, things were dramatically different not too long ago. The first goal of this Essay is to ensure we memorialize how society, once again, failed to protect our incarcerated communities when they needed it the most. To illustrate this, we offer a data-driven analysis of the early state-level policies regarding vaccinations of people who live and work in prisons. Our findings show that vaccination policies tended to systematically ignore or disadvantage incarcerated individuals. We argue that by adopting such policies, states have neglected to comply with their legal obligations, grounded in existing and emerging Eighth Amendment jurisprudence and long-standing ethical responsibilities to proactively vaccinate this population. This is particularly true given that prisons are among the high-risk “congregate settings” that are widely recognized by health experts, and often by the states themselves, as deserving of immediate distribution of vaccines. Based on these obligations, and given recent new virus outbreaks and the realization that some form of COVID-19 is here to stay (and other pandemics may be around the corner), this Essay concludes with recommendations for the future.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2021. “The Promises and Pitfalls of Path Dependence Frameworks for Analyzing Penal Change.” Punishment & Society. Online first. [Access it here]

Although the study of penal changes throughout history is central to punishment studies, the field has taken little from historical institutionalists’ theories of institutional change. One of the most relevant such theories is path dependence. This article outlines path dependence frameworks’ most fruitful elements for studying penal change. Drawing on foundational political science and historical sociology texts, as well as several punishment scholars’ works, this article highlights the advantages of thinking through stasis and change, mechanisms of inertia such as feedback effects, and exogenous shocks. While path dependence offers a powerful framework, it can also be an unsatisfying explanation at times, particularly when path dependence is itself a seemingly uphill battle, when apparent stasis hides ongoing change, or when institutions survive hypothesized mechanisms of change. This paper closes by discussing some ways in which punishment scholars can strengthen the path dependence framework by blending it with recent theoretical developments in the punishment studies field.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2021. “Revisiting ‘America’s Penal Experiments’ 100 Years Later.” Howard Journal of Crime and Justice (Special Issue on the Centenary of the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Howard Journal) 60(1): 29-37. [Access it here]

In 1921, American prison administrator and reformer, Spencer Miller, was invited to describe America’s recent penal developments to the Howard League for Penal Reform. This article reviews the context of Progressive Era American prisons to better understand Miller’s remarks and their lessons for prison administrators and reformers today. It briefly describes the history of American prisons into the Progressive Era as well as some developments that were most relevant to Miller, viz., the reforms at Sing Sing under famed penal reformer and warden, Thomas Mott Osborne. Next, the article reviews Miller’s statement to the Howard League for Penal Reform, including his inaccurate description of prison history, which can be read as a means of emphasising the extraordinary progress made by Osborne and, implicitly, by Miller at Sing Sing and as an example to the nation. Finally, it discusses Miller’s abolitionism in the context of similar discussions taking place today.

Russell, Emma K., Bree Carlton, and Danielle Tyson. 2021. “‘It’s a Gendered Issue, 100 Per Cent’: How Tough Bail Laws Entrench Gender and Racial Inequality and Social Disadvantage.” International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 10(3). [Access it here]

Women’s rates of remand, or pre-trial detention, have grown dramatically in Australia and the rates at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are incarcerated without conviction are particularly high. However, there is little research examining bail and remand practices and their relationship to social inequalities. This article presents findings from research on the drivers behind women’s increasing rates of custodial remand in Victoria—a jurisdiction that has significantly restricted access to bail through legislative reforms. Drawing on data derived from interviews with criminal defence and duty lawyers, we outline how bail and remand practices systematically disadvantage women experiencing housing insecurity and domestic and family violence (DFV), increasing their risk of becoming trapped in longer-term cycles of incarceration. Our analysis reinforces the need to move away from ‘tough on crime’ approaches to bail. It also highlights unintended consequences of DFV reforms, including further marginalising and punishing criminalised women who are victim-survivors.

Schliehe, Anna and Ben Crewe. 2021. “Top bunk, bottom bunk: Cellsharing in prisons.” The British Journal of Criminology. Online first. [Access it here]

The politics involved in cell-sharing reach into the most personal parts of prisoners’ lives and are highly determinate of their experiences of imprisonment. While there is a small amount of research on the impact of cell-sharing on personal wellbeing and prison quality, much less has been written about the daily dynamics and significance of negotiating shared space under conditions of coercion. In this paper, based on in-depth research undertaken in England & Wales, we explore the experience of cell-sharing and how dynamics in the cell matter both intimately and socially. Essentially, we locate the cell as one of the primary sites of ‘where the action is’ in prisons, and where matters of safety, dignity and abjection are of particular relevance.

Sclofsky, Sebastián. 2021. “Broken windows in the Rio de la Plata: Constructing the disorderly other.” Criminological Encounters 4(1): 31-49. [Access it here]

Since 2010, Uruguay has moved towards a tough-on-crime approach adopting Broken Windows and zero-tolerance policing. The interesting fact is that this tough-on-crime approach has been developed by a social democratic government, which, during its first administration, was committed to fight crime through social-democratic policies, rejecting the tough-on-crime approach. The policies and rhetoric developed by the left-wing government led to the criminalization of low-income communities and the construction of an “undeserving other,” adhering to a neoliberal logic of competition and security. As a consequence, the left-wing set the policy and institutional bases for an increase in mano dura and recent police violence with the electoral victory of the right-wing in 2019. This article examines this process and shows how the uncritical adoption of Broken Windows and other U.S. style policing initiatives can be extremely pernicious in Latin America.

Shaw, Emily, Mona Lynch, Sofia Laguna, and Steven Frenda. 2021. “Race, witness credibility and jury deliberation in a simulated drug trafficking trial.” Law & Human Behavior 45: 215-228. [Access it here]

Objective: The present study integrates several distinct lines of jury decision-making research by examining how the racial identities of the defendant and an informant witness interact in a federal drug conspiracy trial scenario and by assessing whether jurors' individual racial identity and jury group racial composition influence their judgments.

Hypotheses: We predicted that jurors would be biased against the Black defendant and would be more likely to convict after exposure to a White informant, among other hypotheses.

Method: We recruited 822 nonstudent jury-eligible participants assigned to 144 jury groups. Each group was assigned to one of four conditions where defendant race (Black or White) and informant race (Black or White) was manipulated. Each group watched a realistic audio-visual trial presentation, then deliberated as a group to render a verdict.

Results: Contrary to expectations, the conditions depicting a Black defendant yielded lower conviction rates compared to those with a White defendant-at both the predeliberation individual (odds ratio [OR] = 1.54) and postdeliberation group level (OR = 2.91)-while the informant race did not influence verdict outcomes. We also found that jurors rated the government witnesses as more credible when the defendant was White compared to when he was Black. Credibility ratings and verdict outcomes were also predicted by jurors' own race, although juror race did not interact with the race conditions when predicting verdicts.

Conclusions: Jurors are sensitive to defendant race, and this sensitivity appears to strengthen after deliberation-but in a direction opposite to what was expected. One potential implication of our findings is that juries may operate as a check on system bias by applying greater scrutiny to law enforcement-derived evidence when the defendant is Black. 


Barno, Matt and Mona Lynch. 2021. “Selecting charges.” Pp. 35-58 in Handbook on Prosecutors and Prosecution, edited by Ronald Wright, Kay Levine, and Russell Gold. New York: Oxford University Press. [More information here]

Prosecutorial discretion in charge selection has far-reaching consequences throughout the criminal adjudication process. Through their initial charging decisions, prosecutors not only determine who will be subject to the state’s penal power—they also define the terms under which defendants will strategize and negotiate to mitigate their potential punishment. This chapter provides an overview of the criminal charging process, including the legal parameters within which prosecutors exercise their charging discretion and how that discretion is exercised in practice. The chapter begins with a discussion of constitutional limits on the power to initiate criminal charges, as well as limits on the severity of charges. We describe how formal legal structures governing criminal sentencing interact with prosecutors’ power and incentives at the charging stage. We then review both the empirical literature documenting variations in charging practices and the key theoretical explanations for those variations. Finally, we summarize recent research suggesting that prosecutorial charging decisions may be a key driver of the carceral trends that define mass incarceration. The chapter concludes with reflections and recommendations regarding future lines of research on prosecutorial charging practices.

Hatton, Erin (ed.). 2021. Labor and Punishment: Work in and out of Prison. University of California Press. [More information here]

The insightful chapters in this volume reveal the multiple and multifaceted intersections between mass incarceration and neoliberal precarity. Both mass incarceration and the criminal justice system are profoundly implicated in the production and reproduction of the low-wage “exploitable” precariat, both within and beyond prison walls. The carceral state is a regime of labor discipline—and a growing one—that extends far beyond its own inmate labor. This regime not only molds inmates into compliant workers willing and expected to accept any “bad” job upon release but also compels many Americans to work in such jobs under threat of incarceration, all the while bolstering their “exploitability” and socioeconomic marginality.

Contributors include Anne Bonds, Philip Goodman, Amanda Bell Hughett, Caroline M. Parker, Gretchen Purser, Jacqueline Stevens, and Noah D. Zatz.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2021. Rocking Qualitative Social Science: An Irreverent Guide to Rigorous Research. Stanford University Press. [More information here]

Unlike other athletes, the rock climber tends to disregard established norms of style and technique, doing whatever she needs to do to get to the next foothold. This figure provides an apt analogy for the scholar at the center of this unique book. In Rocking Qualitative Social Science, Ashley Rubin provides an entertaining treatise, corrective vision, and rigorously informative guidebook for qualitative research methods that have long been dismissed in deference to traditional scientific methods. Recognizing the steep challenges facing many, especially junior, social science scholars who struggle to adapt their research models to narrowly defined notions of "right," Rubin argues that properly nourished qualitative research can generate important, creative, and even paradigm-shifting insights. This book is designed to help people conduct good qualitative research, talk about their research, and evaluate other scholars' work. Drawing on her own experiences in research and life, Rubin provides tools for qualitative scholars, synthesizes the best advice, and addresses the ubiquitous problem of anxiety in academia. Ultimately, this book argues that rigorous research can be anything but rigid.


Bardelli, Tommaso, Zach Gillespie, and Thuy Linh Tu. October 27, 2021. “Blood from a stone: How New York prisons force people to pay for their own incarceration.” Prison Policy Initiative. [Access it here]


A study by members of the New York University Prison Education Program Research Collective gives important first-hand accounts of the damage done when prisons shift financial costs to incarcerated people.