Progressive Punishment: Job Loss, Jail Growth and the Neoliberal Logic of Carceral Expansion

New York University Press
Judah Schept
Type: 
peer-reviewed book

Progressive Punishment is an ethnographic case study of carceral expansion in Bloomington, Indiana. The book focuses primarily on the logics, discourses, spatial dimensions, and historical context of a proposal for a “justice campus,” a complex of facilities that would have significantly expanded local criminal justice infrastructure and scope. In centering the discourses of therapeutic justice, rehabilitation, and social justice in its critique, this book considers the role of liberal benevolence in the politics of carceral expansion. The book also examines how the carceral was constituted beyond the institutional formations of incarceration through so-called alternative sanctions that, in fact, extended carceral logics and practices into the spheres of social service and education. The book uses the empirical material to think more historically and theoretically about the rise of the carceral state and the forces that constitute the conditions of its existence as well as those might constitute the conditions of its demise. The book concerns the roots and routes of carceral logics—their origins and their circulations—as they set the conditions for and animated continued growth in Bloomington and beyond. The book critically examines how neoliberal ideology naturalizes carceral expansion into the political common sense of communities reeling from crises of deindustrialization, urban decline, and the devolution of social welfare. In addition, the book chronicles community activists’ attempts to destabilize that common sense and shake the community’s reliance on incarceration. Bloomington is simultaneously the community under study in this book and a heuristic for a broader consideration of the logics underlying and animating the carceral state.

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