“The criminal justice process, the trial, and punishment practices rely upon entrenched assumptions, conventions, and principles that are thrown into question by the security society.”
— Lucia Zedner
In 1992, MM Feeley and Jonathan Simon exposed the functioning of a “new penology” which no longer fancied “pathologies of crime” and the resultant interventionist approach. The “new penology”, departing from the “older one”, is centred around risk. Instead of “individualistic diagnoses”, it is interested in techniques to identify, classify, and manage groups based on “dangerousness”.
“Foucault has often appeared as a philosopher of the impossible. However, by juxtaposing his theoretical writings and activism, we see another Foucault, perhaps even a philosopher of the possible”
In Foucault, Prison, and Human Rights, Mugambi Jouet reveals a side of Foucault’s perspective on prisons that often gets eclipsed by his seminal work, ‘Discipline and Punish’. Jouet shows that the abolitionist sentiment underlying Discipline and Punish might be the most highlighted, but is not the only approach that Foucault adopted in his approach towards prisons and human rights:
In Discipline and Punish, prisons and rehabilitation systems are just reimagined forms…
In Governing Through Crime, Jonathan Simon explores how the US’s “war on crime” transformed American democracy and engendered a culture of fear. He highlights how “crime control” shaped the political order and became a lens through which other socio-economic issues got perceived and acted upon.
Simon begins by contrasting between the “conventional syllogism” of governance, and the policies that underpin the idea of “governing through crime”. He says that while governance has always implied a threat of crime for tackling resistance, such a crime was generally perceived as the last response, as the “endpoint”. However, in the governance that started…
In Madness and Penal Confinement, Craig Haney illustrates how the pains of those suffering from mental illnesses get exacerbated, misunderstood, and sidelined in prisons. He argues that the punitive culture of control, engendered by mass incarceration, compromises the well-being of mentally ill prisoners and impairs their future social and psychological functioning.
Haney begins by claiming that the “complicated” and “contested” nature of mental illness makes its identification, treatment, and monitoring in a prison extremely difficult. …
While theorising punishment, Immanuel Kant argued that “even if a desert island community were to disband, its members should first execute the last murderer left in its jails, “for otherwise they might all be regarded as participators in the [unpunished] murder”.
The “symbolism of punishment”, of what it speaks of both the criminal and the community, was of importance to Kant. Years later, for Joel Feinberg, this is precisely what has escaped the ken of philosophers such as Antony Flew and SI Benn.
In The Expressive Function of Punishment, Joel Feinberg attempts to answer what distinguishes “punishment” from different kinds…
“Queer criminological work on shame can help criminology look outside of itself and beyond the questions that it continues to ask about shame”
In Criminology and Queer Theory, Matthew Ball revisits debates within queer theory on “shame” — its affection and productive potential — and how it can engage with the criminological discourse on reintegrative shame. He shows how both queer theory and criminology looks at the productive potential of shame but through contrary approaches. Can these contrary approaches engage with each other? Ball shows what both queer scholarship and criminological work on reintegrative shame can provide each other.
“In a phrase commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, insane people continue to repeat disastrously failed strategies, in hope of a different outcome. Such insanity is a common condition for white, western- schooled criminologists, like us.”
In Decolonising Criminology, Harry Blagg and Thalia Anthony subject prevailing criminological methods to scrutiny. The epistemic injustice caused to the Indigenous communities by criminology’s research praxis is exposed, critiqued, and responsibilized for seeking a change in the way it “makes sense” of the Indigenous.
In Conflicting Narratives of Crime & Punishment, Maria De Angelis throws light on the diverse narratives on migration that compete with each other. Narratives that expose how gender, crime, and politics of exclusion come to invade the site of migration.
In Identifying these narratives, and how they engage with each other, Angelis is specifically interested in the nexus of migration-crime-gender. How the state’s “masterful narratives on nationhood” situate migrant women, and how these are resisted by the counter-narratives of these very women.
“Political master narratives and migrant counter-narratives can be understood as positional arguments on (de)criminalising migration that demonstrate the…
Hello and welcome to the first episode of “Mulaqat”, a series where we talk to criminologists and criminal justice scholars to dive into their most fascinating works of research.
Mulaqat, an Urdu word for “meeting”, is an official term used by many States in India to describe the facilities provided to prisoners to meet their friends, family, and lawyers. Mulaqat as a practice is marked with complex emotions, diverse narratives, and most importantly, space where the prisoners can choose not to be performative in their expression. …
In Desistance, Persistence, Resilience and Resistance, Abigail Henson visbilises the resilience shown by Black fathers with a criminal record while navigating discriminatory employment market. She argues that Black men who have to provide for their families resort to “hustling” not due to persistent criminality, but because of the racist attitude of the employment ecosystem.
Drawing from the interviews conducted with released Black fathers in South Philidelphia, Henson endeavours to use a “strength-based” lens to highlight the resilience displayed by such men when faced with stigma and discrimination. …