As compiled by Dr. Kaitlyn Quinn
LAW AND SOCIETY ASSOCIATION
Collaborative Research Network: Punishment and Society
Ashley Rubin, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, USA
Natalie Pifer, University of Rhode Island
RECENTLY PUBLISHED WORKS
Arriagada, Isabel. 2022. “Prison, Technology, and Consumption: A Visual Study of the Use of Electronic Commerce Strategies in the Inmate Package Industry.” Theoretical Criminology. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]
In recent years, the US penal system has increasingly contracted prison services and introduced electronic commerce technologies for penal populations and their social networks. This study uses visual and textual analysis of 245 images from the websites of 17 inmate package companies to explore electronic commerce strategies in US penal institutions. The inmate package industry uses electronic commerce strategies that address the distinctive conditions of penal confinement and deploys emotionally charged messages to encourage digital interactions with the penal system and elicit consumption. Several company websites also organize the experience of consumption along gender and racial lines. The emergent industry of inmate packages represents one among several contemporary practices of carceral consumption.
Black, Lynsey and Sinéad Ring. 2023. “Historical Gendered Institutional Violence: A Research Agenda for Criminologists.” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 39(1): 17-37. [Access it here]
This article considers the phenomenon of historical gendered institutional harm, examining the widespread incarceration of women and girls in Ireland through the decades following independence in 1922. In this period, thousands of women and girls were confined in a network of sites including Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes. The article considers the responses to this history, focusing on those fields which concern themselves with matters of “wrongdoing” and “harm,” responses grounded in law and legalism. We explore both the utility and the limits of these approaches before proposing a criminological research agenda which draws on the centrality of the state in the perpetration of gendered violence. Although Ireland has become a by-word as a case of historical institutional abuse internationally, it remains remarkably understudied by criminologists. The article explores how the Irish example can speak to the discipline of criminology by forcing us to reimagine how we conceive of gendered harms and state-perpetrated harms.
Craig, Miltonette and Daniel Sailofsky. 2022. “‘What Happened to Me Does Not Define Who I Am’: Narratives of Resilience in Survivor Victim Impact Statements.” Victims and Offenders. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]
While research shows that “ideal victims” still receive more media coverage and more favorable depictions and results in the criminal justice system, it is not clear whether this is how victims of crime want to present themselves. We code and analyze the transcripts of 21 violence against women survivor victim impact statements (VIS) from YouTube videos, to assess how survivors present their victimization. While survivors of violence discuss their pain and trauma, they also call for better services and protection for other survivors, and attempt to bring awareness about the ubiquity of violence while motivating other survivors to come forward. Survivors rarely present themselves as stereotypically defined “ideal victims,” though in some cases, they do focus on their own blamelessness and the motherly, familial relationships that have been negatively impacted by their victimization. Though ideal victim presentation may be a rational response for those seeking justice from patriarchal legal institutions, survivors resist ideal victim presentations based on stereotypical notions of femininity, demonstrating that from their perspectives, hierarchies between “deserving” and “undeserving” victims may be dissipating.
Gido, Rosemary, Derek S. Jeffreys, Cormac Behan, Kimmett Edgar, Bethany E. Schmidt, Gorazd Mesko, Mary K. Stohr, and Ashley T. Rubin. 2023. “A Symposium to Mark the Publication, by New York University Press, of Ian O’Donnell’s Prison Life: Pain, Resistance, and Purpose.” The Prison Journal 103(2): 159-176. [Access it here]
Recognizing the major scholarly contributions to criminology by the noted Irish criminologist, Ian O’Donnell, The Prison Journal invited seven contemporary corrections and punishment scholars to offer insights into O’Donnell’s new book, Prison Life: Pain, Resistance, and Purpose. Offering contextually rich descriptions of prisoner life, the text features four case study prisons—H Blocks, Northern Ireland; Eastham Unit, Texas; Isir Bet, Ethiopia; and ADX Florence, Colorado, in pivotal time periods and through an individual's custodial career in each institution. The symposium discussants focus on O’Donnell's conceptual framework—the degree of prison integration, system and staff regulation, and legitimacy—and how these reflect the key interactions between punishment and society across time and culture.
Goodman, Philip and Kaitlyn Quinn. 2023. “The Palimpsest of Outdoor Penal Labour in California, 1915–2000.” The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice 62(1): 119-141. [Access it here]
In this article we examine the curious stability of outdoor penal labour in California in the 20th century against a shifting social and penal field. Analysing state archival data on prison highway and forestry camps between 1915 and 2000, we frame the persistence of these practices as evidence of a penal labour palimpsest. We demonstrate how the agency and interpretive innovation of penal administrators – as the architects and interpreters of this palimpsest – served as a stabilising mechanism akin to, but distinct from, existing theories of path dependence. Zooming out from the intricacies of the historical record, we position this case as revealing some of the limits of strict theories of path dependence and, instead, as offering a more dynamic understanding of the complex, intersecting and malleable ways in which history matters.
Guiney, Thomas, Ashley Rubin, and Henry Yeomans. 2023. “Path Dependence and Criminal Justice Reform: Introducing the Special Issue.” The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice 62(1): 3-10. [Access it here]
Jefferis, Danielle C. (forthcoming). “Carceral Deference: Courts and Their Pro-Prison Propensities.” Fordham Law Review. [Access it here]
Judicial deference to non-judicial state actors, as a general matter, is ubiquitous. But “carceral deference”—judicial deference to prison officials on issues concerning the legality of prison conditions—has received far less attention in legal literature, and the focus has been almost entirely on its jurisprudential legitimacy. This Article adds to the literature by contextualizing carceral deference historically, politically, and culturally. Drawing on primary and secondary historical sources, as well as trial and other court documents, this Article is an important step to bringing the origins of carceral deference out of the shadows, revealing a story of institutional wrestling for control and unbridled dominance that has not, until now, been fully told.
That full telling is more important now than ever, as society grapples with the scope, scale, and racist impacts of American punishment. Carceral deference plays an enormous role in the constitutional ordering of state power, as well as civil law’s regulation of punishment, a force that is often neglected within the criminal law paradigm. Moreover, the Supreme Court has demonstrated a recent skepticism of judicial deference in other areas of the law, suggesting an era in which traditional notions of deference are up for reconsideration. Understanding how the foremost judicial norm in the prison law space developed gives us a foundation from which to better examine and critique the distribution of power among prisons, courts, and incarcerated people and the propriety of deference to prison officials; further informs our understanding of the systemic and structural flaws of the criminal punishment system; and adds to a growing body of literature analyzing the role of expertise in constitutional analyses across dimensions, from qualified immunity to the administrative state.
Jouet, Mugambi. (forthcoming). “Guns, Mass Incarceration, and Bipartisan Reform: Beyond Vicious Circle and Social Polarization.” Arizona State Law Journal. [Access it here]
Gun violence in modern America persists in the face of irreconcilable views on gun control and the right to bear arms. Yet one area of agreement between Democrats and Republicans has received insufficient attention: punitiveness as a means of gun control. The United States has gravitated toward a peculiar social model combining extremely loose regulations on guns and extremely harsh penalties on gun crime. If someone possesses a gun illegally or carries one when committing another crime, such as burglary or drug dealing, draconian mandatory minimums can apply. These circumstances exemplify root causes of mass incarceration: overreliance on prisons in reaction to social problems and unforgiving punishments for those labeled as “violent” criminals. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, mass incarceration does not primarily stem from locking up petty, nonviolent offenders caught in the “War on Drugs.” Most prisoners are serving time for violent offenses. Steep sentence enhancements for crimes involving guns illustrate how American justice revolves around counterproductive, costly practices that disproportionately impact minorities.
This multidisciplinary Article envisions future reforms with the capacity to transcend America’s bitter polarization. A precondition to change is not for conservatives and liberals to wholeheartedly agree on issues like systemic racism or the right to bear arms. Rather, possibilities for penal reform are likelier when each side can come to the negotiating table for its own reasons. A paradigm shift in conservative America may prove especially indispensable, as Republicans tend to be more supportive of harsh punishments and Democrats are unlikely to achieve reform nationwide on party-line votes. This shift has already occurred to an extent given the rise of penal reform in red states. But both conservatives and liberals have failed to significantly reduce mass incarceration by recurrently excluding “violent” offenders from reform initiatives.
The Article explores how conservatives and liberals could gradually converge toward sentencing reform on gun crime. This could ultimately have a ripple effect on American sentencing norms, leading them closer to those of Western democracies with more effective and humane penal systems. Such bipartisanship is less elusive than it might seem. A rehabilitative approach toward gun crime fits with the evolution of American conservatism, which believes that guns should not be vilified since they are part of the nation’s identity. Similarly, the rehabilitation of people convicted of gun crime is consistent with cornerstones of modern American liberalism, namely stricter gun control and opposition to mass incarceration as an unjust, racist system. As opposite sides will probably retain much of their worldview even if their perspectives evolve to a degree, new ways of thinking could help bring reformers together. These social transformations cannot be predicted but should be theorized.
Jouet, Mugambi. 2022. “A Lost Chapter in Death Penalty History: Furman v. Georgia, Albert Camus, and the Normative Challenge to Capital Punishment.” American Journal of Criminal Law 49: 119-77. [Access it here]
Overlooked historical sources call into question the standard narrative that the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Furman v. Georgia (1972), which temporarily abolished the death penalty, reflected a challenge to its arbitrary, capricious, and discriminatory application. This Article examines materials that scholars have neglected, including the main brief in Aikens v. California, a companion case to Furman that presented the fundamental constitutional claim: the death penalty is inherently cruel and unusual.
Aikens was largely forgotten to history after it became moot, leaving Furman as the main case before the Court. The Aikens brief’s humanistic claims and rhetoric are at odds with the widespread idea that Furman was a case about administrative or procedural problems with capital punishment. This is truer of the Furman decision itself than of the way the case was litigated. Depicting any execution as “barbarity,” as an “atavistic horror,” the Aikens brief marshaled an argument that has garnered much less traction in modern America than Europe: the death penalty is an affront to human dignity. Yet the transatlantic divergence in framing abolitionism was not always as pronounced as it came to be in Furman’s aftermath. Since the Enlightenment, American and European abolitionists had long emphasized normative arguments against capital punishment, thereby revealing why they played a central role in Aikens-Furman.
Strikingly, the Aikens brief insistently quoted a European figure whose role in this seminal Supreme Court case has received no attention: Albert Camus. “Reflections on the Guillotine,” Camus’s denunciation of the death penalty’s inhumanity, is among the sources prominently featured in the Aikens-Furman briefs. The architect of this strategy was Anthony Amsterdam, a famed litigator. Subsequent generations of American abolitionists have placed less weight on humanistic objections to executions, instead stressing procedural and administrative claims. This shift has obscured how a lost chapter in death penalty history unfolded.
These events are key to understanding the evolution of capital punishment, from its resurgence in the late twentieth century to its present decline as the number of executions nears record lows. On Furman’s fiftieth anniversary, the Article offers another window into the past as scholars anticipate a future constitutional challenge to the death penalty in one or two generations.
Jouet, Mugambi. 2022. “The Day Canada Said No to the Death Penalty in the United States: Innocence, Dignity, and the Evolution of Abolitionism.” UBC Law Review 55(2): 439-510. [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.
Maurutto, Paula, Kelly Hannah-Moffat, and Marianne Quirouette. (forthcoming) “Punishing the Non-Convicted Through Disclosure of Police Records.” British Journal of Criminology.
As police records expand with big data analytics, so too has the range of non-conviction information seeping into the public domain through criminal background checks. Numerous studies have documented the negative effects of background checks for those with criminal convictions, but less understood are the effects of non-conviction records. We draw on 8 focus groups and 52 interviews to understand how the release of non-conviction records are: 1) creating new institutional risk management pressures for police institutions, 2) expanding the role of employers as arbiters of risk, 3) redefining understandings of “the risky subject” to include victims, those with mental health challenges, and other innocent individuals subject to police contact, and 4) raising critical legal questions about privacy and presumptions of innocence.
Paik, Leslie and Chiara Packard. 2023. “Broadening the Lens of Procedural Justice Beyond the Courtroom: A Case Study of Legal Financial Obligations in the Juvenile Court.” Law & Social Inquiry. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]
Procedural justice research has shown how people’s experiences with courtroom actors, such as judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors, shape their views of the justice system and its legitimacy. However, less is known about how people’s experiences outside the courtroom that relate to their cases shape their views of this system. Based on forty-one interviews with twenty-one youths and twenty parents in Dane County, Wisconsin about their legal financial obligations (also known as monetary sanctions), this study broadens the focus of procedural justice to include another key aspect to people’s experiences with the law beyond the courtroom: their experiences navigating bureaucratic aspects to their youths’ cases and their interactions with non-court staff (e.g., clerks, Human Services, and community agencies), otherwise known as “auxiliary personnel” (Feeley 1979) or “street-level bureaucrats” (Lipsky 2010/1980). We focus on legal financial obligations as a case study to show this multi-agency view of procedural justice as it reveals the families’ often disjointed experiences with justice staff both inside and outside of the courtroom.
Phelps, Michelle S., H. N. Dickens, and De Andre’ T. Beadle. 2023. “Are Supervision Violations Filling Prisons? The Role of Probation, Parole, and New Offenses in Driving Mass Incarceration.” Socius. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]
Advocates for reform have highlighted violations of probation and parole conditions as a key driver of mass incarceration. As a 2019 Council of State Governments report declared, supervision violations are “filling prisons and burdening budgets.” Yet few scholarly accounts estimate the precise role of technical violations in fueling prison populations during the prison boom. Using national surveys of state prison populations from 1979 to 2016, the authors document that most incarcerated persons are behind bars for new sentences. On average, just one in eight people in state prisons on any given day has been locked up for a technical violation of community supervision alone. Thus, strategies to substantially reduce prison populations must look to new criminal offenses and sentence length.
Quinn, Kaitlyn. 2023. “Dispositions that Matter: Investigating Criminalized Women’s Resettlement through their (Trans)carceral Habitus.” Criminology & Criminal Justice 23(1): 20-38. [Access it here]
Whether prisoner resettlement is framed in terms of public health, safety, economic prudence, recidivism, social justice, or humanitarianism, it is difficult to overstate its importance. This article investigates women’s experiences exiting prison in Canada to deepen understandings of post-carceral trajectories and their implications. It combines feminist work on transcarceration and Bourdieusian theory with qualitative research undertaken in Canada to propose the (trans)carceral habitus as a theoretical innovation. This research illuminates the continuity of criminalized women’s marginalization before and beyond their imprisonment, the embodied nature of these experiences, and the adaptive dispositions that they have demonstrated and depended on throughout their lives. In doing so, this article extends criminological work on carceral habitus which has rarely considered the experiences of women. Implications for resettlement are discussed by tracing the impact of criminalized women’s (trans)carceral habitus (i.e. distrust, skepticism, vigilance about their environments and relationships) on their willingness to access support and services offered by resettlement organizations.
Quirouette, Marianne. (forthcoming) “Social Triage and Exclusions in Community Services for the Criminalized.” Social Problems.
This article examines perspectives and practices related to social triage and the exclusion of criminalized and marginalized individuals in community services like shelters, mental health, substance use and court supports. Based on two years of fieldwork and interviews with 105 practitioners, I analyze narratives and practices related to and working with people described as having or ‘being’ complex, high-needs and/or high-risk. I show that individual factors (ex: risk/need/responsivity) are but one type considered when practitioners make decisions about triage or service eligibility. Building from theory about the governance of ‘risk’ and ‘risky people’, I examine how organizational and systemic factors shape individualized understandings of and responses to risk. I argue that given current practices in under-resourced community supports, triage and resulting exclusions exacerbate social problems and contribute to punitive exclusions, especially for those who seek services, supports or housing but have records of sexual offence, fire setting, drug use, violence, self-harm or so-called non-compliance. Examining these dynamics bolsters claims that we should shift the responsibilizing gaze upwards to pressure institutional and state bodies who could transform the landscape for practitioners and their clients.
Rubin, Ashley T. 2023. “The Promises and Pitfalls of Path Dependence for Analyzing Penal Change.” Punishment & Society 25(1): 264-284. [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.
van der Valk, Sophie and Mary Rogan. 2023. “Complaining in Prison: ‘I suppose it’s a good idea but is there any point in it?’”. Prison Service Journal 264: 3-10. [Access it here]
Recent years have seen a growth in formal complaint procedures in prisons, which are seen to be a key feature of enhancing the protection of the rights of those in prison. Prisons are places where rights can be vulnerable and complaints procedures ideally provide prisoners with access to an independent body to review complaints, which is less burdensome and costly than the costs of going to court. Such mechanisms should also help resolve lower-level complaints, which may not reach the relevant thresholds for court proceedings. Prisoners are required to rely on others for their daily needs and access to services, such as the school or facilitating family visits. Complaint systems, in theory, give prisoners a tool to voice concerns they have about their treatment and prison conditions. In the prison context, however, complaining is not always straightforward and those in prison can face significant hurdles in accessing and using complaint systems even when they are in place.
Research indicates that complaints procedures can have an impact on many aspects of life in prison. Beijersbergen and colleagues found that prisoners who felt that they were treated fairly and respectfully by correctional authorities during imprisonment were less likely to be reconvicted up to 18 months after release. Additionally, those who reported having experienced a higher level of procedural justice reported fewer mental health problems and were less likely to engage in misconduct. However, an ineffective complaint system for dealing with prisoners’ problems can have an impact on prisoners of feeling ignored and not listened to. In this respect, Crewe has reported that people in prison felt that complaints systems were sometimes used by staff as a way of deflecting prisoner complaints and pushing the burden of responding to someone else. Additionally, a US study conducted by Bierie highlighted the impact of an ineffective complaint system and how delays, as well as high levels of rejected complaints can contribute to violence in prisons, pointing to the very serious consequences of poor complaints systems. How complaints procedures work in practice therefore merits attention.
Weinreich, Spencer J. 2023. “Why Early Modern Mass Incarceration Matters: The Bamberg Malefizhaus, 1627–31.” Journal of Social History. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]
In 1627, at the height of the Bamberg witch-hunt (1595–1631), the prince-bishopric erected the Malefizhaus (“witchcraft-house”), the first cellular prison purpose-built for solitary confinement. This article recovers the history of the Malefizhaus to establish the importance of imprisonment and carceral institutions to the early modern witch-craze. The prison at once concretized the ideology of the hunt and furnished a fearsome weapon of persecution, extracting the confessions without which no inquisitorial campaign could function. By reconstructing the singular architecture and internal regimen of the Malefizhaus, this article demonstrates the sophistication of early modern interrogations, a process distorted by an outsized interest in torture. Having recognized the Malefizhaus as a driver of the witch-hunt, it is possible to recognize the prison’s impact upon Bamberg’s seventeenth-century history—disrupting political and economic relationships, displacing populations, and disciplining social life. The case of the Bamberg witches’ prison counters the modernist slant of the study of the prison, proof that medieval and early modern carceral institutions shaped the history of their societies, despite smaller scales and weaker state apparatuses. In turn, the essay argues that the critical tools of carceral studies, developed to study contemporary mass incarceration, can profitably be applied to premodern practices and institutions, offering insight into patterns of violence, the development of repressive structures, and the problems of “crime” as a historical category.
BOOKS/BOOK CHAPTERS/EDITED COLLECTIONS
Craig, Miltonette and Kwan-Lamar Blount-Hill. (Eds.) 2022. Justice and Legitimacy: Transforming the Institution. Routledge. [More information here]
This edited volume critically analyzes the state of American policing and evaluates proposed solutions to reform/transform the institution, such as implementing body-worn cameras, increasing diversity in police agencies, the problem of crimmigration, limiting qualified immunity, and the abolitionist movement. Each chapter is devoted to a specific area of policing that has either received criticism for the problems it may create or has been proposed to effect reform. The chapters are sequenced such that readers are introduced to a spectrum of topics to expand the discourse on changes needed to achieve equitable policing. The book also encourages readers to consider the idea that achieving justice and legitimacy in policing cannot happen as the institution is now formulated, and it invites readers to consider the abolitionist perspective. The aim is for readers to use the topics discussed in each chapter to envision transformative propositions.
Rogan, Mary and Sophie van der Valk. 2023. “Ireland: The Weak European Supervision of Prison Policies and its Explanations.” Pp. 85-97 in XXX (Ed.) The Evolving Protection of Prisoners’ Rights in Europe. Routledge. [Access it here]
Ireland has a long history as a member state of the Council of Europe and its supervisory mechanisms. Given the absence of the European Court of Human Rights case law regarding Ireland, this chapter will focus on the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) on domestic case law in relation to prisons alongside the activities of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), as well as the influence of European standards on domestic law and policy. We also provide analysis of how European human rights protections are viewed by people in prison. We posit that the weak judicial European supervision of prison practices in Ireland derives in part from Irish legal culture's reluctance to use the Convention, as well as a general lack of prison litigation. We argue that Council of Europe's framework for protecting rights in prisons as a whole must be considered when assessing the impact of European supervision on Ireland, especially in the absence of direct supervision by the Strasbourg court, and that non-judicial supervision has had some effect on domestic practice.
Rubin, Ashley T. 2023. “That Time We Tried to Build the Perfect Prison: Learning from Episodes Across U.S. Prison History.” Pp. 21-50 in Dominique Moran, Yvonne Jewkes, Kwan-Lamar Blount-Hill, and Victor St. John (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Design. Palgrave Macmillan. [Access it here]
How should we evaluate recent efforts to make prisons more healthful and humane institutions? While many of these endeavours are impressive, creative, and have been shown to have positive impacts on people living and working within prisons, it is also possible to locate these ventures in a very long line of efforts to construct the perfect prison, a slippery goal that changes over time. This chapter reviews some of the more famous attempts (within the United States) at perfecting the prison, focusing on how reformers, designers, administrators, politicians, and others imagined perfection when speaking of incarceration. Equally important, this chapter also examines how and why these efforts failed. This chapter closes by considering what lessons we can draw from this long line of ill-fated attempts at perfecting the prison.