TechnoPrisons: Corrections, Technology and Society

Anthony Ryan Hatch
Wesleyan University
Discipline(s): Science and Technology StudiesSociology Cultural StudiesCriminology
Syllabus Last Updated: 
August, 2016

The United States currently incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country, most of them are members of disadvantaged social groups. Prisons are also an old human institution and are present in nearly every country on the earth. In the United States, their permanence and ubiquity complicate efforts at meaningful prison reform or prison abolition. How does our government practically accomplish mass incarceration? This Wesleyan First Year Seminar examines prisons as technologies and the role that specific technologies play in the U.S. prison system. To say that prisons are technologies means that prisons operate as an architectural structure that is designed to hold people captive within enclosed physical spaces. At the same time, prisons are the location for multiple kinds of social closure made possible through technological systems including surveillance systems, media representations, biomedical technologies, classification and administrative technologies, and military technologies. This seminar introduces basic concepts within science and technology studies, sociology, and criminology to investigate how prison happens.