Punishment & Society

Sage Publications, Inc.
Publication date:

Latest documents

  • Michael Tonry, Doing Justice, Preventing Crime
  • “We’re not the first and we’re not going to be the last”: Perspectives of system-involved black and Latinx young adults on racial injustice during the 2020 black lives matter protests

    This study explores how Black and Latinx young adults (ages 18–25) who were reentering the community from Los Angeles County jails viewed racial injustice in the criminal legal system in the context of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests of summer 2020. A sample of nine young adults participated in a series of up to nine monthly interviews between June 2020 and May 2021. The participants included seven young adults who identified as Black and two who identified as Latinx. Overall, participants held negative views of the criminal legal system and felt that police officers harmed Black and Brown people and communities. While most participants expressed support for the BLM protests, others doubted the protests as an effective tactic to address racial injustice. Even those who supported the protests described doubts about the possibility of genuine systemic changes in the criminal legal system and society. Findings pose implications for cultivating optimism for social change and countering legal cynicism among system-involved young adults.

  • Parole as a boxing match: Lifers, prosecution, and the adversarial making of parole hearings

    Despite being depicted as powerful actors, the work of the State's representatives in parole hearings has to date remained largely invisible. In this study, we aimed to fill this gap through a qualitative analysis of the oral arguments of prosecutors in 130 lifers’ parole board hearings in Israel. The findings suggest that prosecutors construct lifers’ parole hearings as an adversarial, yet asymmetrical, “boxing match.” Three themes were unveiled: Prosecutors construct the lifers as worthy of re-censure; view the lifers as solely responsible for their parole release; and construct the lifers as inherently suspicious individuals. In conclusion, prosecutors’ parole work seems to be more a defense of their shared professional identity as crime fighters than a promotion of an individualized, inclusive, and future-oriented parole decision-making process.

  • Zoha Waseem, Insecure Guardians: Enforcement, Encounters and Everyday Policing in Postcolonial Karachi
  • Alice Wambui Macharia, Rights of the Child, Mothers and Sentencing: The Case of Kenya
  • Leanne Weber, Jarrett Blaustein, Kathryn Benier, Rebecca Wickes and Diana Johns, Place, Race and Politics: The Anatomy of a Law and Order Crisis
  • “Social workers by day and terrorists by night?” Wounded healers, restorative justice, and ex-prisoner reentry

    Common to many post-conflict societies, former political prisoners and combatants in Northern Ireland are often portrayed as security threats rather than as potential contributors to societal peacebuilding processes. This distrust limits their ability to contribute to the transitional landscape and additionally hinders desistance processes during their reentry from prison. Drawing from the work of Maruna, LeBel, and others on “wounded healers,” this article critically examines the restorative justice work of ex-prisoners who have become involved in leadership roles within community based restorative justice. It is argued that such practitioner work can help former combatants overcome many of the challenges typically associated with reentry, contributing to a “strength-based” approach to desistance, impacting factors such as employment, social bonds, internal narratives, and agency. This work also enables individuals to showcase their desistance to others, highlighting their “earned redemption” and encouraging society to acknowledge that reentry is a two-way street.

  • Regulating criminal justice: The role of procedural justice and legitimacy in the inspection of probation in England and Wales

    Criminal justice institutions are held to account in a number of ways yet there is limited knowledge as to how these systems of regulation function. One primary method for regulating systems of punishment is through the use of independent inspectorates, yet very little empirical research has explored how inspectorates engage with the organisations they inspect nor how inspection is received by inspected organisations. Procedural justice theory has been used to understand compliance with laws. It can also shed light on compliance with systems of accountability, although there is a dearth of research in this area. Thus, our understanding of how regulation works in situ is limited. This article uses procedural justice theory to analyse data that were collected in England and Wales to explore how His Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation garners legitimacy from those it inspects. The article suggests that the Inspectorate is seen to be trustworthy and impartial, treats people with respect and provides them with a voice although there is variance between groups. The article contributes to (1) our understanding of how regulation works in the field of probation and (2) procedural justice theory by exposing the mechanisms that underpin compliance with regulatory regimes in institutional settings.

  • Forward-leaning policing and stability maintenance: The politics of penal control in Xi's China

    This article seeks to address the intensification of incarceration in Xi's China. By situating the analysis of incarceration within the theory of penal politics, I ascribe the Chinese system of penal control to a purposeful and politically charged change in policing practices. Through what I call ‘forward-leaning policing’ (前倾式警务), China under the current leadership has co-opted the exercise of carceral power through more aggressive and proactive policing as an intensified response to an eclectic mix of developing social issues which threaten public order and political stability, emergent from China's transition to modernity. All the while, the country's community and social policy interventions have been inadequate in addressing the evolving ‘risks’ in Chinese society. Those two converging forces, together, pave the way for individuals to have increased contact with the justice system, as well as exposing them to a higher probability of falling within the remit of formal punishment, including imprisonment.

  • The Prison Bust: Declining carceral capacity in an era of mass incarceration

    While there is a growing literature investigating the causes and consequences of the US prison boom—the tripling of prison facilities between 1970 and 2000—much less is known about current patterns of prison closures. We use novel data capturing the universe of prison closures (N = 188) from 2000 to 2022 to identify and characterize what we term “the prison bust”—the period since 2000 when prison closures began to climb and eventually eclipse new prison building. We show that the prison bust is, in part, a consequence of development-oriented prison-building policies that aggressively used prisons to stimulate struggling local economies. The bust is primarily concentrated in the counties that pursued prison building most aggressively, reflecting a highly cyclical and reactionary pattern of prison placement and closure. We also show that, relative to counties with at least one prison but no closures, closures are concentrated in metro counties with stronger local economies and multiple prisons. Overall, we highlight the prison bust as an important new era in the history of US punishment and provide a new dataset for investigating its causes and consequences. We conclude by discussing the theoretical and policy implications of these findings.

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