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How can philosophers contribute to the resolution of the current prison crisis in the United States, and what sorts of philosophical work should activists make use of in…
How can philosophers contribute to the resolution of the current prison crisis in the United States, and what sorts of philosophical work should activists make use of in their efforts to address that crisis? This paper examines two periods of prison reform in the 20th century, to indicate the problematic role that traditional theories of the moral justification of punishment have had in the history of reform effects have played. I argue that moral theories of punishment are not the best vehicle for addressing the prison crisis; the approaches suggested by critical social theory are more promising.
Industrial relations problems in the UK Prison Service are part ofthe wider crisis within the penal system over the past 30 years, fromthe era of the Mountbatten Report of…
Industrial relations problems in the UK Prison Service are part of the wider crisis within the penal system over the past 30 years, from the era of the Mountbatten Report of 1966 to the Woolf Report of 1990, and beyond. Incidents and disputes, concerning both industrial relations and the problems of prison regimes, attract wide media reporting, not all of it accurate. Attempts to redress this selectivity, and to demonstrate the complex linkages between industrial relations and the administration, management and reform of the penal system. Focusing mainly on the Home Office Prison Service (HOPS), and on the three main trade unions, highlights the differing political goals of the prison service, and the perpetual turmoil without clear purpose in which the principal actors seem to be enmeshed.
While the steep increases in rates of incarceration seen in the United States in the late twentieth century have begun to level out, one form of incarceration has seen…
While the steep increases in rates of incarceration seen in the United States in the late twentieth century have begun to level out, one form of incarceration has seen more drastic reductions in rates of use in the 2010s: long-term solitary confinement. Across the United States, prisons that once isolated prisoners for decades at a time stand hauntingly empty. The solitary confinement reform movement provides an important lens for examining what happens when an entrenched punitive practice faces widespread and sustained criticism and reveals the multiple paradigms through which reform operates – through politics, litigation, or charismatic leadership.
In a country where judicial institutions are known to be inefficient and where activists have traditionally not engaged in legal mobilization, what explains the emergence…
In a country where judicial institutions are known to be inefficient and where activists have traditionally not engaged in legal mobilization, what explains the emergence of NGO strategic litigation? The author argues that a change in the legal opportunity structure impacts how activists interact with the legal system. Comparing two states in Mexico, the author demonstrates that the introduction of private prosecution rights opened the door for activists to litigate femicide cases. The emergence of strategic litigation has helped improve compliance with international human rights law and has had a demonstration effect on how to use the law to press for accountability.
In the Conservative‐led coalition's recent green paper Breaking the Cycle Ken Clarke aims to justify reducing the scale and costs of imprisonment. These proposals have…
In the Conservative‐led coalition's recent green paper Breaking the Cycle Ken Clarke aims to justify reducing the scale and costs of imprisonment. These proposals have been met with a generally positive response from penal reform groups and academic criminologists who see them as a departure from the expansionist policies of the last two decades. Many of the reform proposals presented in the green paper are however unlikely to save the taxpayer money or increase community safety.
In this chapter, we explicate the evolution of Canadian corrections, the political, social and judicial realities that have shaped punishment and imprisonment over…
In this chapter, we explicate the evolution of Canadian corrections, the political, social and judicial realities that have shaped punishment and imprisonment over history. We reveal how such factors continue to leave their mark on the current Canadian federal criminal justice system and its structures of incarceration.
A comprehensive review of accessible literatures detailing the nation’s development of punishment and incarceration is presented. The history of imprisonment is traced up to the current year and the role of penal populism as theorized by Garland (2001) and, later, Pratt (2007) is presented to discern the motivations for the current punitive correctional rhetoric, as well as its impact on conditions of confinement and program implementation in penitentiaries.
Canada’s correctional history is largely shaped by how punishment is defined and how such definitions are influenced by members of society; including victims, perpetrators, politicians and media personalities. The realities of current conditions of confinement have been impacted by social and political pressures that encourage increasingly punitive policies oriented towards ‘tough on crime’ initiatives. Current corrections are characterized by overcrowding, concerns about rehabilitative programming and resource allocation and mental health care.
Recent legislative amendments have solidified a ‘tough on crime’ agenda in Canada, however the process underlying the movement towards the acceptance, even public demand, for such legislative changes remain in need of dissemination; particularly in light of the decades of decreasing crime rates in the country.
This chapter reconstructs and critically examines the recent history of strip searches in Belgium. About 10 years ago the Belgian parliament adopted its first law on…
This chapter reconstructs and critically examines the recent history of strip searches in Belgium. About 10 years ago the Belgian parliament adopted its first law on prisoners’ rights. A major part of the Prison Act of 12 January 2005 deals with disciplinary and control measures. Article 108, in particular, has provoked quite some controversy. It introduced a clear distinction between the (more superficial) search of an inmates’ clothes on the one hand, and the (substantially more intrusive) measure of strip searching on the other hand. The main difference between these two measures is that the latter involves forcing prisoners to strip naked. Because of their intrinsic intrusiveness, such strip searches were meant to be exceptional measures: they should only take place following an individual assessment and decision by the prison governor. In practice, however, the prison administration tended to interpret Article 108 somewhat differently and the line between searching an inmate’s clothes on the one hand and strip searching on the other became blurred.
I first discuss the problem of order in prisons and explore how strip searches have been regulated in Europe. I then reconstruct the recent history of the regulation of strip searches in Belgium. In order to make sense of this history, I mobilize some of the ideas of Stanley Cohen’s sociology of denial, in particular, his distinction between literal, implicatory and interpretive denial, and apply these to the history of strip searches in Belgium.
A consistent finding from this chapter is that the Belgian prison administration has – through creative manoeuvres of interpretive denial – been able to circumvent the new barriers that were erected by the Prison Act of 12 January 2005 and, in doing so, it has been able to continue stripping detainees naked without an individualized decision from the prison governor. The approach that I develop throughout this chapter helps us better appreciate the limits of legal reform and top-down (European) regulation of strip searches.
The chapter demonstrates that Stanley Cohen’s work on denial is not only useful for scholars who do research on gross human rights violations but also for interpreting more down-to-earth aspects of criminal justice systems across the globe.
Collateral consequences (CCs) of criminal convictions such as disenfranchisement, occupational restrictions, exclusions from public housing, and loss of welfare benefits…
Collateral consequences (CCs) of criminal convictions such as disenfranchisement, occupational restrictions, exclusions from public housing, and loss of welfare benefits represent one of the salient yet hidden features of the contemporary American penal state. This chapter explores, from a comparative and historical perspective, the rise of the many indirect “regulatory” sanctions flowing from a conviction and discusses some of the unique challenges they pose for legal and policy reform. US jurisprudence and policies are contrasted with the more stringent approach adopted by European legal systems and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in safeguarding the often blurred line between criminal punishments and formally civil sanctions. The aim of this chapter is twofold: (1) to contribute to a better understanding of the overreliance of the US criminal justice systems on CCs as a device of social exclusion and control, and (2) to put forward constructive and viable reform proposals aimed at reinventing the role and operation of collateral restrictions flowing from criminal convictions.