Monday, April 3, 2023

Members' Publications: April 2023 Edition

As compiled by Dr. Kaitlyn Quinn


Collaborative Research Network: Punishment and Society


Ashley Rubin, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, USA

Natalie Pifer, University of Rhode Island



April 2023


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.


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.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Members' Publications: December Edition

 As compiled by Dr. Kaitlyn Quinn


Collaborative Research Network: Punishment and Society


Ashley Rubin, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, USA

Natalie Pifer, University of Rhode Island



December 2022


Annison, Harry and Rachel Condry. 2022. “The Pains of Hope: Families of indeterminate sentenced prisoners and political campaigning by lay citizens.” British Journal of Criminology 62(5): 1252-1269. [Access it here]

This paper examines the politics of crime and insecurity as experienced ‘from below’. We draw on in-depth interviews with families of indeterminate-sentenced prisoners, and policy participants, in order to understand families’ experiences of their relative’s imprisonment under the discredited English Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence and their public campaigning against it. We situate these experiences within broader structural trends, which we conceptualise as penal-familial assemblages. We argue that the experiences cause ‘pains of hope’ for families through a double liminality: first, due to the uncertainties caused by the indeterminate sentence, which brings neither closure nor release. Second, meaningful state action on campaigners’ demands remained elusive, with moments when change appeared close but ultimately remained just out of reach. In conclusion, we draw out the lessons from our study for analysing penal politics. We argue, in particular, for a humanistic recognition of the centrality, and the pains, of lay citizens’ efforts to seek to achieve progressive penal policy change.

Annison, Harry and Thomas Guiney. 2022. “Populism, Conservatism and the Politics of Parole in England and Wales.” Political Quarterly 93(3) 416-423. [Access it here]

Reform of the parole system has emerged as the cause célèbre of a resurgent law and order politics. Successive governments have seized upon the symbolic power of parole to demonstrate ‘toughness’ with respect to violent and sexual offending, to express solidarity with the victims of crime and reaffirm a populist credo that purportedly stands in opposition to an unaccountable and out of touch penal elite. Published in March 2022, the Ministry of Justice Root and Branch Review of the Parole System represents a continuation of this well-rehearsed political strategy, but arguably goes further than ever before in its willingness to dispense with established norms, rules and practices. This article surveys the contemporary politics of parole in England and Wales and reflects upon what these developments reveal about the shifting contours of a creeping authoritarian conservatism premised upon nostalgia, nationalism and the projection of a strong, centralised state.

Dal Santo, Luiz. 2022. “Brazilian prisons in times of mass incarceration: Ambivalent transformations.” The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

Most of the scholarship on the ‘punitive turn’ has claimed that there have been two main trends in punishment since the 1970s: the rise of incarceration rates (quantitative dimension) and the worsening of prison conditions (qualitative dimension). Scholars argue that, in parallel with the rise of mass incarceration, there has been a fall of the rehabilitative ideal. In this view, prisons in core countries have basically operated as a warehouse, working towards neutralisation and incapacitation. Both trends are also viewed as reflecting a global convergence of penal policies. The analysis of the Brazilian case challenges this supposed universality. Drawing on official prison data, reports from non-governmental organisations, and secondary data, I argue that mass incarceration has not been accompanied by the same qualitative changes to prisons in ‘Western countries’ and Brazil. First, features of the so-called warehouse prison, such as low levels of prison activities, have always been present in Brazilian prisons, and are not an effect of mass incarceration. Furthermore, the consequences of mass incarceration in Brazilian prisons have, in fact, been ambivalent and, in some cases, may have alleviated inmates’ suffering, rather than intensifying experiences of confinement. Finally, instead of neutralising and controlling criminals, Brazilian prisons under mass incarceration have contributed to the emergence, empowerment, recruitment and organisation of gangs, whose powers now transcend the physical barriers of prison walls.

DeCaro, Joanne B., Kelci Straka, Nadia Malek, and Alyson K. Zalta. 2022. “Sentenced to Shame: Moral Injury Exposure in Former Lifers.” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

Objective: A significant increase in the release of individuals who served life sentences (i.e., lifers) in California has created the opportunity to study aspects of their psychological wellness for the first time. Moral injury may be a particularly relevant factor to consider in this population, but has not been previously studied. This study is the first to explore the concept of moral injury within a currently or formerly incarcerated population. 

Method: Former lifers currently in reentry in California (N = 41) completed a survey that measured their moral injury exposure (MIE), MIE-related guilt, MIE-related shame, MIE-related rumination, religiosity, attempts at making amends, and flourishing. 

Results: As expected, a high rate of lifetime MIEs was endorsed (97.6%). Events linked to life sentence crimes (75.6%) and time in prison (56.1%) were very common. Lower levels of MIE-related shame (r = -.58, p < 0.01) and higher levels of religiosity (r = .35, p < 0.05) were significantly associated with greater flourishing. By contrast, degree of MIE exposure, MIE-related guilt, and MIE-related rumination, and making amends were all weakly associated with flourishing. 

Conclusion: Our results highlight that MIE is pervasive in this population and extends beyond life sentence crimes. Moreover, our findings suggest that it is lifers’ self-concept following MIEs that appears to affect well-being upon release, rather than the extent and nature of moral injury exposure. Further research exploring moral injury in incarcerated and formerly incarcerated populations is needed to improve their well-being and chances of successful re-entry.

Garland, David. 2022. “The Current Crisis of American Criminal Justice: A structural analysis.” Annual Review of Criminology. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

This review situates the recent, radical challenges to American criminal justice—calls to end mass incarceration, defund the police, and dismantle systemic racism—within the broader social and economic arrangements that make the US system so distinctive and so problematic. It describes the social structures, institutions, and processes that give rise to America's extraordinary penal state—as well as to its extraordinarily high rates of homicide and social disorder—and considers what these portend for the prospect of radical change. It does so by locating American crime and punishment in the structural context of America's (always-already racialized) political economy—a distinctive set of social structures and institutional legacies that render the United States more violent, more disorderly, and more reliant on penal control than any other developed nation. Drawing on a broad range of social science research findings, it argues that this peculiar political economy—a form of capitalism and democratic governance forged on the anvils of slavery and racial segregation and rendered increasingly insecure and exclusionary in the decades following deindustrialization—generates high levels of social disorganization and criminal violence and predisposes state authorities to adopt penal control as the preferred policy response.

Golembeski, Cynthia, Matthew Bakko, Shayla Wilson, and Twyla Carter. 2022. “U.S. Bail, Pretrial Justice, and Charitable Bail Organizations: Strengthening Social Equity and Advancing Politics and Public Ethics of Care.” Public Integrity. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

The U.S. criminal legal system contributes to the oppression and harm of marginalized groups, calling into question ethical governance. The front end of this system, specifically bail and pretrial justice, exploits opportunities for resource generation and social control as a major driver of incarceration, yet receives limited attention in public administration or ethics. Disproportionate punishment and collateral penalties associated with bail and pretrial justice are causes and consequences of structural racism and administrative dysfunction. Excessive bail as a poverty penalty incurs risks to health, safety, financial security, and constitutional presumptions and protections. In light of civil and constitutional rights concerns, bail and pretrial-associated philanthropic solutions have proliferated. This article provides background on bail and pretrial justice policies and politics; outlines evidence of related consequences; describes select reform efforts and philanthropic tools, including the charitable bail organization The Bail Project; and contextualizes bail and pretrial justice within a public values framework, which centers social equity and incorporates critical race theory alongside politics and public ethics of care. Upholding the Constitution and the law, strengthening social equity, and ensuring procedural due process are core tenets of good governance, yet anathema to the current bail and pretrial justice system, which is a critical public ethics concern.

Gurusami, Susila, Rocío R. García, and Diya Bose. 2022. “Abolishing Carceral Distractions: Refusing the Discursive Punishment of Latinxs.” Journal of Criminal Justice Education. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

LatCrim scholars and LatCrim scholarship are concerned with working towards racial justice, particularly with and for Latinxs ensnared by the criminal-legal system. To support existing and future work in this area, we conduct a discursive analysis of existing research, public policy, and responses to policies at the nexus of crimmigration scholarship and Latinx sexualities to examine how the figure of “the criminal” drives scholarship on racial justice. We develop the concept of carceral distractions as a type of white distraction that orient us toward accepting carceral fate and consequences as an inevitable marker of state care, protection, and remedy for harm. Carceral distractions make it difficult to recognize the possibilities beyond and outside carceral formations and ideologies. We develop this article as an abolition feminist tool to help identify and understand carceral distractions. To do so, we pose three central questions when asking whether proposed interventions, approaches, or solutions are carceral distractions: (1) What are we oriented towards?; (2) What are we distracted from?; and (3) Who do we leave behind? Ultimately, we demonstrate how carceral distractions strengthen white supremacy by legitimizing carceral logics.

Iverson, Justin. 2022. “Surveilling Potential Uses and Abuses of Artificial Intelligence in Correctional Spaces.” Lincoln Memorial University Law Review 9(3): 1-36. [Access it here]

While individuals likely have different understandings of what constitutes artificial intelligence (AI), the truth is we have been using it for decades to greater or lesser degrees. Recent polling indicates Americans are somewhat aware of this fact, though fear about the potential harms posed by widescale AI adoption remains high. One area in which Americans favor using AI technology—and a focus of this paper—is in the apprehension, monitoring, and management of criminals.

The American public associates AI—as we do in so many areas of our lives—with popular culture depictions, including Data, R2-D2, Cylons, VIKI, and Brainiac, to name a few. The characters and plotlines our artists create are both reflective of current scientific theory and influential on scientists developing future technology. Looking toward full AI integration in these stories helps us envision how AI can improve our quality of life and informs us of the potential risks associated with careless development and monitoring measures.

In section II, this paper will begin with an analysis of the development of AI, noting famous examples and establishing a baseline definition as a lens for the rest of this discussion. This paper will assess aspects of AI and machine learning to the extent it furthers our understanding of AI’s ability to collect data and make decisions. Some popular culture references will be brought into focus here to recognize storytelling’s ability to inspire and influence real-world scientific pursuits. Of preliminary importance, the AI we have both dreamed of and feared are certainly kept in mind as technology advances through sentience milestones.

Section III will discuss emerging technologies in the correctional space, including automated inmate communications monitoring services and related privacy and safety implications. Such technologies are designed to be objective and non-biased, though human involvement will necessarily entail subjectivity at each stage of development and implementation. The problem of encroaching AI is thus balanced between its own sophistication and that of its human collaborators.
In section IV, this paper will discuss the now-widescale adoption of correctional tablets in jails and prisons across the country. Persons experiencing incarceration have expectations about traditional monitoring areas, such as phone calls, mail, and video surveillance. However, allocating so many correctional services to a single device necessitates a new analysis of how governments, and the private contractors providing and maintaining their tablets, impact data collection and algorithm development practices.

Finally, in section V, the pieces come together as this paper argues for responsible data analysis and algorithm development. The drumbeat march of AI into detention spaces shows no sign of halting but there is time yet to steer its development to productive and humane purpose. In the end, this paper aims to increase awareness of the potential benefits and pitfalls of AI integration in the correctional space and provide a framework to understand tradeoffs in this sector.

As a tool, AI can supplement or entirely replace human involvement in nearly every arena but humans will determine the amount of deference given to this tool. And that amount will change in quantity and type without end. But those in jails and prisons, as a vulnerable population, do not have the luxury of providing substantive input in the way those decisions are made, and thus, we as interested observers must monitor the monitors on their behalf.

Jones, Nikki, Kenly Brown, Eduardo Bautista Duran, Kaily Heitz, Jasmine Kelekay, Gil Rothschild Elyassi, and Geoffrey Raymond. 2022. “‘Other than the Projects, You Stay Professional’: ‘Colorblind’ Cops and the Enactment of Spatial Racism in Routine Policing.” City & Community. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

In this article, we show how routine policing is conscripted into the project of maintaining and reproducing spatial racism in urban settings through an intersecting set of macro-level processes and micro-interactional practices. Our analysis of ethnographic interviews conducted with over 40 police officers during 20 ride-alongs in the Western United States identifies person- and place-specific heuristic classifications that police officers rely on to manage routine encounters. We find that officers use membership categorization devices to sort people and places in the city into distinct categories (e.g., nice places, normal people, the projects, and people in the projects), which, in turn, prefigure different orientations to action at the start of and throughout their encounters with the public. Our findings provide an empirical basis for thinking of professional police knowledge as encoding systemic racism in routine policing, rather than being a break from it.

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.

Kupchik, Aaron and Felicia Henry. 2022. “Generations of Criminalization: Resistance to Desegregation and School Punishment.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

Objectives: In this paper we refocus discussions of criminalization of students on structural racial inequality. We help explain racially disproportionate school punishments, while demonstrating the necessity for criminologists to examine how a historic legacy of racial oppression shapes contemporary punishments. More specifically, we explore the extent to which contemporary school punishment reflects a legacy of racial oppression and educational exclusion of Black students. 

Methods: Using nationwide data from multiple sources, we analyze how resistance to school desegregation, measured by the number of court cases contesting school segregation from 1952 − 2002, relates to suspensions from school and days missed due to suspension. 

Results: Our analyses show that schools in districts marked by resistance to school desegregation have significantly and substantially higher rates of suspensions for Black students and days missed by Black students due to suspension. 

Conclusions: Contemporary school suspension is shaped by a legacy of racial oppression and educational exclusion. Our results confirm the importance of using a racialized social systems approach to understand and begin to remedy the criminalization of Black students.

Manikis, Marie. 2022. “Recognising State Blame in Sentencing: A Communicative and Relational Framework.” Cambridge Law Journal 81(2): 294-322. [Access it here]

Censure, blame and harms are central concepts in sentencing that have evolved over the years to take into account social context and experiential knowledge. Flexibility, however, remains limited as the current analysis in sentencing focuses on the offender while failing to engage with the state's contribution in creating wrongs and harms. This risks giving rise to defective practices of responsibility since the state can also contribute to their production. The following article presents a complementary and additional framework within sentencing to account for state censure, blame and harms. The framework is rooted in communicative theories of punishment that integrate a responsive understanding of censure and a relational account of responsibility.

Manikis, Marie. 2022. “The Principle of Proportionality in Sentencing: A Dynamic Evolution and Multiplication of Conceptions.” Osgoode Hall Law Journal 59(3): 587-628. [Access it here]

This article examines the theoretical foundations and developments of the concept of proportionality in common law sentencing. It traces its evolution within its two main underlying frameworks: desert-based and consequentialist theories of punishment. It specifically examines the Canadian context and demonstrates that this concept was primarily rooted in a desert-based framework but has increasingly been infused with consequentialist rationales. It is argued that this multiplication of underpinnings has led to a conceptual muddling of proportionality, risking voiding the concept of its meaning and usefulness to decision-makers at sentencing. The article therefore proposes a nuanced framework, similar to the one in England and Wales, rooted in a dynamic understanding of just deserts that allows for the incorporation of relevant consequentialist aims in a principled fashion.

Melossi, Dario. 2022. “Servitude for a time: From the permanent slavery of the unfree to the slavery pro tempore of the free.” Punishment & Society. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

I consider the forms of control, which went “untreated” by 1970s “revisionist” penality literature (in other words, I wonder whether the categories of human beings who are (mostly) not found in prisons have something in common). I take as starting point that the “temporary slavery” which is the punishment of imprisonment, emerged historically as related to the “free” condition of those punished. Forms of control instead for the “unfree” are not to be included in “(penal) imprisonment” and could be understood as “domestic” forms of control expressed, originally, in the idea of “Pater Familias.” This form of control is not punishment but is a permanent condition deemed appropriate for given categories of human beings, such as “children,” “women,” “slaves,” and what I call “the mad and other non-persons.” I first examine how imprisonment (as punishment) emerged, after the end of servitude in Europe, as a sort of “memory of slavery,” to enforce a principle of subordination dedicated to “the free.” Then, I look at the mechanisms of social control for those who are not socially perceived as “free.” Finally, I attempt at sketching the process of expansion of mechanisms of subordination—for the free and the unfree—beyond European borders.

Piehowski, Victoria and Michelle Phelps. 2022. “Strong-arm Sobriety: Addressing Precarity through Probation.” Law & Social Inquiry. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

Over the past half-century, the US welfare and penal systems have become increasingly fused modes of poverty governance. At the center of the welfare-penal continuum sits probation, a form of community supervision that operates as a central hub, directing people to both services and incarceration. Drawing on interviews with 166 adults on probation in Hennepin County, Minnesota, in 2019, we argue that the coercive care of probation is structured by the broader project of controlling alcohol and drug use among the poor. Developing the concept of strong-arm sobriety, we show how the “criminal addict” trope undergirds the central processes of probation: treatment, testing, and revocation. We argue that strong-arm sobriety misreads structural precarity as the result, rather than the cause, of individuals’ choices. In doing so, strong-arm sobriety fails to address the circumstances that engender substance use and produces future subjects for coercive care.

Quinn, Kaitlyn and Philip Goodman. 2022. “Shaping the road to reentry: Organizational variation and narrative labor in the penal voluntary sector.” Punishment & Society. OnlineFirst. [Access it here]

Financial austerity, welfare state retrenchment, and the movement towards evidence-based interventions have intensified the pressures on penal voluntary sector (PVS) organizations. The result is an increasingly competitive field of social service provision in which organizations must differentiate themselves in the struggle over funding, contracts, symbolic authority, and potential clients. We explore this struggle by examining the distinct roads to reentry constructed at four PVS organizations in Ontario, Canada. Our analysis initiates a dialogue between individual narratives and organizational discourses, contending that the road to reentry is coauthored among organizations and criminalized individuals—albeit on unequal terms. Our findings reveal that there are significant pressures for criminalized individuals to perform narrative labor to align themselves with organizational understandings of reentry. Such pressures include: the denial of services or social assistance payments, threats of being returned to prison for “inadequate” participation in rehabilitation, and risks of not being considered for coveted “professional ex” positions at PVS organizations. In light of these empirical findings, we also offer a conceptual reflection on the challenges criminalized individuals likely face accessing services from multiple organizations with differing roads to reentry, suggesting that navigating these diverse roads not only requires narrative labor, but also narrative dexterity.

Santos, Maria-Fátima. 2022. “Modernizing Leviathan: Carceral Reform and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Brazil’s Espírito Santo State.” American Sociological Review 87(5): 889-918. [Access it here]

Incarceration has become naturalized as a primary mode of punishment within the penal systems of modern states across the globe. This study examines how states develop the capacity to execute incarceration as a routine state function. I argue that rationalization and bureaucratization are key for transforming carceral enclosures into a naturalized feature of states’ routine exercise of coercion. I develop this argument through analysis of a dynamic case of carceral modernization in the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo (2003 to 2014). I analyze the significance of coordinated violence and performative strategies for rulers to extend administrative capacity to incarceration and transform confinement into a legitimate and legitimizing instrument of state power. Findings demonstrate how coercive practices and other modes of violence that state authorities come to narrate as illegitimate are not antithetical to modernization. Rather, they become constitutive of the very process of consolidating and legitimizing rational-legal modes of administration that routinely exercise violence while more effectively being misrecognized as such. By extending inquiry to how states develop the administrative capacity to exercise penal power, this analysis makes several contributions to the political sociology of punishment and theories of state-building.

Singh, Shawn and James Gacek. 2022. “Erasure and Erosion: Exploring Federal Government Efforts to Complicate Socio-Legal and Environmental Obligations owed to Indigenous People.” Manitoba Law Journal 45(4): 1-38. [Access it here]

The Canadian federal government has fallen short of its reconciliatory objectives with Indigenous peoples and preventing anthropogenic climate change. In recognizing these issues, the Government of Canada implemented several policy initiatives to realign industrial production and consumption at the national level, as well as to grow Indigenous participation in capitalist production as a means of approaching a form of self-government. As part of this policy agenda, the state targets Indigenous communities as leaders who hold the potential to implement more sustainable methods of energy production to encourage them to become Canada’s environmental stewards. However, we contend that such policy initiatives also erode the socio-legal and environmental obligations owed to Indigenous peoples by the Canadian federal government. To articulate the impact of these policies on the interests of Indigenous communities, we explore certain efforts of the Canadian state, through the lens of neoliberal settler colonialism, to identify its striking consistency with past approaches of dislocating colonized populations and reclaiming power bases that are still within settler state control. We recommend the arrest of the Canadian settler state’s modern approach to eroding its obligations to Indigenous peoples, while also proposing further measures be taken to recognize and strengthen Indigenous and environmental rights.



Crewe, Ben, Andrew Goldsmith, and Mark Halsey (Eds.). 2022. Power and Pain in the Modern Prison: The Society of Captives Revisited. Oxford University Press. [More information here]

Sykes’ The Society of Captives has stood as a classic of modern penology for nearly 60 years. However, the continued relevance of Sykes’ seminal publication often passes unremarked by many contemporary scholars working in the very field that such works helped to define. This book combines a series of timely reflections on authority, power and governance in modern prison institutions as well as a reflection on the enduring relevance of the work of Gresham Sykes. With chapters from many of the most influential scholars undertaking prison research today, the contributions discuss such matters as the pains of imprisonment, penal order, staff-prisoner relationships and the everyday world of the prison, drawing on and critiquing Sykes’s theories and insights, and placing them in their historic and contemporary context.

Gacek, James. 2022. Portable Prisons: Electronic Monitoring and the Creation of Carceral Territory. McGill-Queen’s University Press. [More information here]

The pervasiveness of surveillance, punishment, and control within and outside of spaces such as jails, prisons, and detention centres suggests that the carceral is becoming an increasingly prevalent presence in our lives, going beyond historical standards. The contemporary use of electronic monitoring extends carceral territory beyond prison walls, into people’s homes and everyday lives.

Empirically and empathetically driven, Portable Prisons is a telling exploration of the electronic monitoring of offenders based on an ethnographic case study from Scotland. Electronic monitoring must be understood - in both intent and effect - as a carceral practice, an expression of the carceral state and its overreaching punitive capabilities. James Gacek demonstrates that various people experience punishment by means of restrictions around mobility, space, and time in ways that strongly overlap with the reported experiences of interviewed prisoners. Drawing attention to how the neoliberal state outsources the labour of punishment to private corporations and the punished themselves, he also rejects the idea that “soft” punishment is in any way related to the movement for decarceration.

Offering an original contribution to our understanding of the geography of incarceration, Portable Prisons is a sophisticated account of electronic monitoring, underlining the growing significance of this field.

Gacek, James and Richard Jochelson (Eds.). 2022. Green Criminology and the Law. Palgrave Macmillan. [More information here]

This edited collection is grounded in a green criminological approach to understand whether the law, both in effect and implications, reflects, refracts, or sublimates the social, political and ecological conditions of our times. Since its initial proposal in the 1990s, green criminology has focused the criminological gaze on a wide array of harms and crimes affecting humans, animals other than humans, ecological systems, and the planet as a whole. As a continuously blossoming field of criminological inquiry, green criminology recognizes and examines behaviours that are both illegal and legal (yet detrimental), and in varying ways has made great efforts to provide insight into harms in a more fulsome manner. At the same time, there have been many significant legal instances, domestic, and international, including case law, legislation, regulation, treaties, agreements and executive directives which have troubled the law’s understanding of green harms, illegal and legal activity, pushing legal boundaries in the process. Recognizing that humanity and nature are inextricably integrated, Green Criminology and the Law reflects the range and depth of high-quality research and scholarship, combining contributions from established scholars willing to explore new topics and recent entrants who are breaking new scholarly ground.

Garland, David. 2022. “What is Penal Populism? Public Opinion, Expert Knowledge and Penal Policy Formation in Democratic Societies.” Pp. 249-272 in Crime, Justice and Social Order: Essays in Honour of A. E. Bottoms, edited by Alison Liebling, Joanna Shapland, Richard Sparks, and Justice Tankebe. Oxford University Press. [More information here]

Gibson-Light, Michael. 2022. Orange-Collar Labor: Work and Inequality in Prison. Oxford University Press. [More information here]

The United States is home to the most expansive prison system on Earth. In addition to holding nearly a quarter of the world's legal captives, this nation puts them to work. Close to two-thirds of those held in U.S. state prisons hold some sort of job while incarcerated. For these imprisoned people, the carceral institution is not only a place of punishment, but a workplace as well. Yet, very little is known about the world of work behind bars. In order to illuminate the "black box" that is modern prison labor, this book marshals 18 months of ethnographic observations within one of America's medium-security prisons as well as 82 interviews with currently-incarcerated men and the institutional staff members tasked with overseeing them. Pulling together these accounts, it paints a picture of daily labors on the inside, showing that not all prison jobs are the same, nor are all imprisoned workers treated equally. While some find value and purpose in higher-paying, more desirable jobs, others struggle against monotony and hardship in lower-paying, deskilled work assignments. The result is a stratified prison employment system in which race, ethnicity, nationality, and social class help determine one's position in the labor hierarchy and, as a result, their experiences of incarceration and ability to prepare for release. Through insightful first-hand perspectives and rich ethnographic detail, Orange-Collar Labor takes the reader inside the prison workplace, illustrating the formal prison economy as well as the informal black market on which many rely to survive. Highlighting moments of struggle and suffering, as well as hard work, cooperation, resistance, and dignity in harsh environments, it documents the lives of America's working prisoners so often obscured from view.

McNeill, Fergus, Phil Crockett Thomas, Lucy Cathcart Frödén, Jo Collinson Scott, Oliver Escobar, and Alison Urie. 2022. “Time After Time: Imprisonment, reentry and enduring temporariness.” Pp. 171-201 in Time and Punishment: New Contexts and Perspectives, edited by Nicola Carr and Gwen Robinson. Palgrave Macmillan. [More information here]

This chapter aims to address the scant attention that has been paid to time and temporalities in re-entry and re/integration research. Drawing on data from the ‘Distant Voices—Coming Home’ project, which used creative methods to explore re/integration after punishment—we illustrate and analyse three ‘travails’ of penal time. We use the term travails here to stress the significant, difficult and active work involved in addressing these temporal challenges. Respectively, these travails concern the struggles caused by ‘de-synchrony’ between time inside and outside of prison and the problems of ‘re-synchrony’ that it creates; the contestation of ‘readiness’ for progression and release; and the problem of living with the paradox of ‘enduring temporariness’. In our conclusion, we argue that tackling these three challenges requires people re-entering society to travel not just through spaces and to places but also through time, both backwards and forwards. These journeys are fraught with both difficulty and danger.



Lageson, Sarah. November 13, 2022. “Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers Need More Than Training.” Wired. [Access it here]

Reentry programs help, but tech companies must also modify their hiring systems.