October 08, 2016

Friday group reading on prisons

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/students/modules/hi398/timetable/seminar3/

Dear All,

Please could you read the following allocated text (see the link to the seminar page above). You will also find some questions on the page to help guide your reading.

Please post up a short summary of your reading/responses to any relevant questions by clicking on the Comment link below. EVERYONE must post up by Friday at 9 am.

James - Anne Brunon-Ernst

Anna B - Thom Brooks

Rachel - Michel Foucault

Lewis - D. Garland

Ellie M - Christoper Harding

Alice - Michael Ignatieff,A Just Measure of Pain

Helen - Michael Ignatieff, ‘The Ideological Origins of the Penitentiary’

Ella - Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini

Victoria - Michael Macilwee

Keiran - J. Muncie

Anna S - G. Peebles

Robin - B. Vaughan

Dan - Moore


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  1. Ellie Martin

    Harding gave a good, albeit brief, insight into the Gladstone Committee Report on Prisons in 1895, and how the report represented the beginnings of penal reform with an emphasis on more rehabilitating and reformist measures. It catalysed the demise of the Du Cane administration; the administration that encouraged a more autocratic approach to the penal system. Central to the report is the argument that Du Cane’s administration represented a penal failure, and that crime rates were actually increasing. Harding successfully introduces debates surrounding the accuracy of the Gladstone report, as the use of data and statistics had only started to emerge in the mid 19thCE, and therefore they were used alongside political ideology rather than objectively to influence the debate surrounding penal reform. He also makes us aware that the statistics used were rarely considered in conjunction with the developments of 19thCE society as a whole. For example, the focus of the report on the introduction of penal welfare, borstals for delinquency and non-custodial sentencing correlates nicely to 19thCE ideas on paternalism and philanthropy, especially in relation to the poorer and working classes, and in an increasing measure of social regulation and control, such as in the workplace. Harding does however draw our attention to the impact of media campaigns in encouraging penal reform. The press articulated condemnation for the more severe physical and psychological features of the prison regime, and seized ‘scandals’ such as overcrowding as a way of convincing the public that Du Cane’s autocratic and barbarous treatment of criminals in ‘the dark places’ (prisons) needed reform. Overall, Harding concludes that whilst the Gladstone report did not signify immediate change, it provided the ‘blue print’ for ‘penal-welfare’ structures, which became a dominant means of social control exercised by the state for the first 3/4s of the 20thCE.

    From this reading, I personally feel that the developments of Victorian 19thCE society provided the report with the moral backing it needed to oust Du Cane. The paternalist, and almost modern liberal attitudes of social welfarism and enlightened rationality, encouraged a revisionist approach to reform. Du Cane cannnot be deemed a complete failure, as he was giving the political remit to improve the penal system, and to an extent he did as prisons became more efficient. Having said that, due to the stats not being strictly accurate it is hard to decipher whether his methods were successful in preventing crime. ‘professional’ offenders did keep returning to prison, considering prions sentences maxed at 2 years. Therefore, it seemed rational for the Gladstone report to suggest a more reformist and educational approach to the penal system, with a particular focus on re-educating juvenile delinquents.

    10 Oct 2016, 13:20

  2. Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini, ‘The Prison and the Factory Origins of the Penitentiary System’
    Melossi and Pavarini use Marxist analysis to explain the development of the penal system. They trace a path from the rise of capitalism and its modes of production to the origins of the modern prison.
    Their basic argument is that under feudalism, the privation of time was not considered an adequate punishment for the crime because time did not have the same value. Therefore corporal and capital punishment were used instead. During capitalist modes of production, the social and economic value of time increases, and so the confinement of an individual becomes a more suitable punishment.
    Melossi and Pavarini also analyse more specific periods throughout England’s history, and highlight that whenever there are significant socio-economic changes, there are also substantial changes to the penal system. Eg. in the early 19th century, after the Napoleonic Wars and the introduction of machinery following the Industrial Revolution, there is an unprecedented supply of labour. Unemployment and vagrancy became a key cause of concern and so the concept of the ‘deterrent workhouse’ is formulated; a prison/workhouse in which the conditions were so terrible it was believed it would encourage people to work. In short, the authors propose that the factory/workplace and the prison are intrinsically linked; both were intended to provide ‘disciplinary training for capitalist production.’ (p.21)

    12 Oct 2016, 12:24

  3. Peebles’ article explores the realm of debt, and its supposed, ‘barbaric underpinnings’, in the nineteenth century. He describes how the masses in nineteenth century England believed the laws which governed the use of credit and debt did not help to build a, ‘civilised’, society. Rather, they trained people in, ‘non bourgeois’, values which, in turn, negated the reality of legal and market life.

    Thus, a massive campaign against debtors prisons; prisons established solely for individuals who failed to pay back their debt. The abolitionist campaigners largely relied on three discourses to prove this so-called barbarism. Firstly, they argued a scientific approach needed to be taken in order to segregate debtors who deserved their comeuppance from those irrationally suffering at the hands of the unjust state. Second, came the more economic based argument (which I admit now, I struggled to really get a grasp of). This argument basically stated that debt itself, and those suffering from debt, were signs of weakness and for society to improve it must put into place systems to transform debtors from present-oriented spenders into future-oriented savers. The final argument, and the most interesting in my opinion, was the Christian discourse of the soul as a, ‘priceless’, entity. This discourse claims man cannot be treated as a commodity, for his soul is a, ‘vehicle of God’s grace’, and therefore incommensurable with all worldly measures i.e. the debtors prison.

    The question I thought resonated most with this article was, ‘Does punishment become more humanitarian over the period?’ The debtors prison is described by Peebles as a, ‘sanctuary’, where people could take, ‘momentary shelter from the storms of life, within its peaceful haven’. Moreover, Peebles constantly describes it as a, ‘ritualistic’, space, alluding to the idea that the prison was somewhere to escape from the daily bustle of economic life and collect one’s thoughts. Later in the period, these debtors prisons were often converted to, ‘The Rules’, Peebles describes, where prisoners were free of physical restraints, allowing them to enter back into civic life. From these descriptions, it seems the debtors prisons, and The Rules which followed, were both more humanitarian in concept than a traditional nineteenth century prison.

    12 Oct 2016, 15:58

  4. Dan Ewers

    J. M. Moore – Reformative Rhetoric and the Exercise of Corporal Power

    J. M. Moore’s article primarily examines the structures and policies implemented by the governor of Birmingham Prison between 1849-51, Mr. Alexander Maconochie. It focusses upon the intention of Maconochie to implement a ‘marks system’ of punishment, whereby prisoners utilise their labour within the prisons to earn ‘marks’, with fines for poor behaviour, in order to serve their sentences, rather than a time-based structure (such as a five-year sentence) as was in place at the time. Although initially rejected by the magistrates, Maconochie decided that it would still be possible to implement a system of marks with his under-sixteen male prisoners by altering their food and punishing them severely for misbehaviour. Moore examines these abuses that occurred during Maconochie’s term as governor within the context of the prison itself and of the people around Maconochie during his time at the prison.

    Moore argues that, although on paper the actions and intentions of Maconochie appeared good, the ways in which the systems were acted upon were in reality very far from. Sustained beatings of young boys, shackling and cuffing for thirty hours at a time, deprivation of adequate food and water, and even one boy being repeatedly whipped until he displayed ‘a reasonable exhibition of submission’. Moore write extensively on the abuses committed within Birmingham Prison, with many being omitted from the official documentation at the time. What had begun as a moralistic attempt to ‘reform’ younger prisoners appears to have degenerated into a series of violent beatings and dismal failures.

    Essentially, what Moore highlights here, is an example of a nineteenth-century departure from the traditional idea of prisons as places of punishment for offenders and towards somewhere where they are reformed. Maconochie frequently referenced his desire for his prison to become a place in which offenders were ‘reformed’ rather than simply punished for their misdeeds. In practice though, with the often cruel treatment of prisoners and the “idleness” of those who could not work, Maconochie’s ‘marks system’ of imprisonment ultimately failed to achieve its aims. Maconochie’s unwillingness to follow local laws, his inability to produce prison documentation when requested, and the shortage of work within the prison itself all, according to Moore, contributed to his downfall.

    12 Oct 2016, 19:31

  5. Michael Macilwee’s piece explores the different punishments that were used and how they evolved and adapted through time. He speaks of four main punishments that were used consistently throughout the 18th and 19th centuries: Capital Punishment, Transportation, Prion and Flogging.
    The most severe punishment was undoubtedly public hanging, the public humiliation was a huge part of the punishment. Their purpose was that of criminal prevention, it was meant to instil fear into the spectators. The most interesting part of public hangings were the fascination it created among the public. It became a form of public entertainment, alcohol was drank, ballad singer performed, and excursion trains were ran. It became nothing more than a spectacle.
    Transportation became not only a means of ridding Britain of its undesirable characters but also of providing a cheap workforce for new colonies. Transportation and prison ships (hulks) were used for even minor offences. It was a harsh form of punishment, yet after their sentences were served their were new world opportunities for them.
    Macilwee’s exploration of prison is particularly interesting as he paint the picture largely as prison being a place of punishment rather than social reform. Death rates were high in prisons during the 18th century because of unsanitary conditions allowing diseases such as typhoid to be contracted. Furthermore misdemeanours such as talking and insolence were punishable. Macilwee’s depiction of prison shows one of punishment, and the statistics of those who reoffended shows an institution that didn’t particularly reform. Furthermore he argues that you have to look at the context of the time period when assessing prisons, as in Victorian times they became an almost desirable place through the guarantee of a bed and regular food despite the low standard of it.
    Another punishment that seemed to lack the ability to reform criminals was flogging. Macilwee doubted floggings ability to reform violent criminals and uses an offender’s quote after enduring a beating: ‘If you think this has done me any good, you are mistaken.’ Similar statistics of re offenders were apparent for those who endured flogging.
    Concluding, Macilwee’s piece made the period of the 18th and 19t century and period of punishment rather than reform, and certainly a period of detaining rather than rehabilitation.

    13 Oct 2016, 15:38

  6. Brunon-Ernst’s piece attempts to redress the imbalances about Bentham’s Panopticon, proffered by Foucault in his work ‘Discipline & Punish’. Following a translation of Foucault’s lectures towards the end of his career, Brunon-Ernst, among many other historians, have finally had access to a more complete picture of Foucault’s Bentham. Formally considered his entire debate on crime & punishment, Bentham’s Panopticon is readdressed in its theoretical form, as opposed to a practical nature. The idea of it being part of a utopia, and therefore never practical, is revisited, and the four variations on the notion are also discussed, where once Foucault has disregarded them. The Bentham-Foucault link is also revisited, and analyses from which base each were working, and to what aims they believed a penal system worked. Brunon-Ernst sets out in ‘Beyond Foucault’ to reestablish each philosopher individually of each other, and then to attempt a new understanding of their link, based on a fairer, more comprehensive study of what each believed and debated.
    Bentham’s Panopticon is more than just a precursor to Big Brother, and as such not just a prescient notion of a surveillance state. When considered amongst the rest of his musings about a penal system and society as a whole, the Panopticon was not intended to remove freedoms. It was simply a method by which misrule could be observed, interrogated, and reasserted, before allowing each to return to their freedoms. Rather than promising 1984 as the perfect society, the Panopticon as an idea attempted to enshrine individual freedoms, not destroy them.

    13 Oct 2016, 20:23

  7. Foucault in the reading does not address prisons directly in the first part of the reading, however he outlines the protests against public executions proliferated during the second half of the 18th century.
    Foucault talks about the reform movement and how it was a ‘strategy for the rearranging of the power to punish’. He identifies the impact of the reform movement and the states, and how it was not a new sensibility but a policy.
    The reading begins to focus on prisons in greater detail at page 264 onward. In that chapter Foucault gives an overview to the debate that prisons were considered a failure from when they first began to face high criticism (in 1820-45) of their methods and structure, and how they did not diminish the crime rate.
    In regarding the question – whether prisons were a place of punishment or reform? – there are several aspects that Foucault looks at:
    1. the role of the wardens: the wardens were often retired soldiers, where often 30-40 supervisors were responsible for around 1500 convicts. The wardens often exploited the penal labour, creating great friction between the guards and inmates.
    2. the attitude of the prison – the prisons were expected to enforce the law and teach respect, however this was done through imposing violent constraints on inmates. This Foucault argues was a form of abuse of power by the prison, and further produced delinquents as they learnt to inflict rules through violence. A quote by Faucher states that prisons were ’’barracks of crime’, reflecting the view they only further encouraged delinquency, and were not a place of reform.
    3. the statistics from prisons – the statistics from prisons showed that they did not diminish crime rate, for example a between 1828-34 out of 7223 convicted inmates 7,400 were recidivists (1/4).
    Foucault additionally identifies a circuit of crime: police -> prison -> delinquency. This circuit he states shows that the three support one another and form a uninterrupted circuit where prison only further encourages crime.
    But when concluding, Foucault had the opinion that prisons were not actually a failure, but merely a less-successful reform.

    13 Oct 2016, 20:30

  8. Michael Ignatieff, The Ideological Origins of the Penitentiary

    Ignatieff’s work examined different theories behind criminality which formed the need/desire for prison reform:

    1. Link between hospital reformers and prison. In the 18th Century there was an idea that physical diseases could have ‘mental’ causes. By this theory, criminality could spread like disease. Prison was therefore designed to create a quarantine in two senses. It would isolate criminality from the healthy population on the outside and similarly, solitary confinement inside the prisons would prevent the spreading of hard crime. Benjamin Rush (Doctor and philanthropist in Philadelphia) also believed criminality was a medical pathology.

    2. There was growing institutionalisation across all fields. Prominent Quakers such as Fothergill helped with institutional hygiene. Similarly, nonconformist scientists and intellectuals (who were industrialists) devised new disciplines in industrial labour (such as the punch clock, bells, fines, rules). There was an idea that regularity (whether through hygiene or better structures) would tranform the behaviour of workers or the poor.

    3. Materialist psychology was another theory that helped with prison reform. Materialism denied an innate sense of right, suggesting that through correct socialisation, men could be improved. David Hartley, John Locke, Bentham and Priestley all supported this.

    4. Howard also thought men could be reformed but in opposition to Materialism, he believed criminals could feel shame.

    5. Rational Authority: According to theory at the time, the efficacy of punishment depended on its legitimacy. If criminals could feel no contempt for their punishments, they could contemplate nothing but their guilt. Benjamin Rush took this idea further saying that capital punishment occured less in non-monarchical countries, as citizens were not thought of as property in these countries. Bentham used the example of whipping to show that if whipping could become rational and impersonal it could be humane. It was only because the severity of the punishment was changeable according to the person inflicting the pain that it was inhumane. Solitary confinement became the clear solution as it reconciled terror without inflicting pain- it was equal to everyone and therefore humane.

    Three ways to look at punishment:
    Reformative theory: Punishment in the best interests of the offenders
    Utilitarian theory: An impartial act of social necessity
    Retributive theory: An act of wrath or vengeance (describes the Bloody Code rather than the new system)

    6. Part of rational theory relied on the accountability of those enforcing the prison system. Reformers suggested quarterly inspections and abolishment of fees to gaolers. Bentham’s Panopticon therefore seems like a humanitarian experiment. It was designed to ensure rational punishment, which gave criminals the best chance of being reformed.
    Ignatieff concludes by suggesting that Howard’s ‘State of the Prisons’ was taken up by nonconformist intellectuals, philanthropists and magistrates because the penitentiary house reflected their ideals of a system of authority and a machine for remaking men.

    13 Oct 2016, 20:31

  9. Robin Sykes

    Vaughn in his article entitled ‘Punishment and Conditional Citizenship’, looks to underline whether modern practices of punishment are undergoing transformation through the study of the effects that the development of citizenship has had upon modern punishment. He argues that the inclusionary aspect of punishment is waning as the conditions of citizenship are becoming ever more stringent.

    The distinctiveness of modern punishment are examined through a brief examination of Michael Foucault’s and David Garland’s writings. Foucault emphasised a process of normalisation was distinctive with modern punishment whereby offenders were encouraged to abide by a certain type of behaviour. Garland opposes this view by connecting punishment with the emergence of political citizenship. Vaughn highlights the emergence of social trust and egalitarianism with the idea that ‘the more extended citizenship becomes the more punishment moves in the direction of reform’. Furthermore, Vaughn examines the emergence of citizenship citing the work of T.H. Marshall who divided citizenship into three distinct elements: civil, political and social rights. However, one fundamental weakness with the work of Marshall is his interpretation of citizenship as solely a matter between state and individual groups when in fact, as argued by Vaughn, citizenship is neither a fixed nor an all-or-nothing state.

    The article charts the influence of citizenship through the emergence of civil, political and social rights on punishment from the late 18th century to the present day. He looks at such an extended period to better illustrate that each of the last three centuries witnessed a prolonged transformation of the penal realm. This transformation stemmed from the traditional ideas of citizenship being challenged. Punishment is now not only being used upon those who are thought to be conditional citizens with a view to reintegration but against those who are thought to be non-citizens to disable or exclude them. Vaughn concludes that the Exclusiveness of citizenship has become evident.

    13 Oct 2016, 23:17

  10. In his book ‘A Just Measure of Pain’ Ignatieff attempts to explain the stimulus behind the reform of the prison system and explores the ways in which the penitentiary was developed. A system originally involving punishments ‘directed at the body’, transformed into carcerel discipline in which prisoners were confined in solitary cells, clothed in uniforms and encouraged to improve their minds with dosages of scripture and hard labour, thus evolving into a punishment system predominantly ‘directed at the mind’.

    Ignatieff begins by exploring the history of efforts to devise a perfectly reformative form of imprisonment, establishing that they in fact begun long before John Howards’s first formulation of the ideal of penitentiary discipline in 1779. He outlines the four preceding waves which can be summarised as being (1) Elizabethan bridewell or house of correction (2) Quaker businessman scheme (3) Houses of Maintenence (4) Houses of Industry. Whilst the two decades following the 1770’s were a period of decisive acceleration in the construction of institutions, in reality, they were not the starting point for the history of the total institution. He considers the 1770’s as a ‘crescendo of reform activity’ and the establishment of the penitentiary as a single aspect of the much wider campaign for economic, political and social reform.

    Focus then returns to the new system of penitentiary discipline and how it functioned, epitomized through the model of Pentonville Prison. Opened in 1842 in North London, the prison quickly became a model for both architecture and discipline in England and beyond to other countries within Europe. The prisoners had a strict daily routine involving waking up at 5:45am, working, eating meals, attending chapel, exercising, room inspection and lights out at 9pm. Almost every single minute of a prisoners day was spent within the confined space of his room, except for exercise and chapel. Any sort of contact between prisoners was forbidden and silence was a strict rule within the prison, any convict would be severely punished and sent to the dark cells in the basement for even a simple gesture, sign, smile or whisper. During their time in solitude the prisoners were only entitled to one visitor every six months and one exchange of letters every six months. These strict conditions often drove men to insanity with between five and fifteen men every year being taken away to the asylum. The conditions at Pentonville were brutal, however, this was a system which was considered to be a good quality reformative mode of imprisonment.

    Ignatieff places a huge emphasis on the perception that motivation for reform was because this was the only way in which social stability could be maintained. In reality, the decline in crime rates after 1855 in England, for example, owed little or nothing to the consolidation of the penitentiary system, and much more to the general rise in real wages among the working class. He suggests that the key appeal in upholding the penitentiary system was because it was a response to the social problems at the time and a, ‘part of a larger strategy of political, social and legal reform resigned to re-establish order on a new foundation’. It was thus essentially considered to be a system of order implemented for the propertied and powerful to assert control in a newly capitalist system.

    The overall conclusion of the book suggests that there were a number of factors which contributed to the emergence of the prison. These factors include sudden crises which were a result of over-crowding, suspension of transportation, military demobilisation, a fear of ‘masterless men’ resulting in social breakdown (such as the crime epidemic which alarmed people), along with a number of other philosophical ideas.

    13 Oct 2016, 23:58

  11. Thom Brooks, Punishment
    Punishment = more than theory; it is about practices

    central question= ‘how should we punish crimes?’ (1) diversity, strengths and weaknesses
    Brooks defines punishment in 4 ways: (1-2)
    1. Punishment must be for breaking the law.
    2. Punishment must be of a person for breaking the law.
    3. Punishment must be administered and imposed intentionally by an authority with a legal system.
    4. Punishment must involve a loss.
    All four parts of this must be met for punishment to be correct. (2)
    Punishment and its meaning varies depending on the context used and this just be precise to avoid confusion.
    E.g. mother punishing her child vs the state punishing a citizen. Whilst they can be argued to be the same, the crucial difference is that the mother punishes a child in a subjective/arbitrary fashion whereas the state can only punish a citizen if they have performed a crime. Therefore punishment is not only the discipline of private individuals to a case of public justice. (2-3)
    Where there is no crime- there is no punishment= Mabbott: “The justification of punishment is that a law has been broken; the justification of law is quite another matter.” (3)
    Punishment as Response
    Joel Feinberg makes the distinction between penalties and punishment. Penalties are sanctions, e.g. fines. Punishments are seen as hard treatment or imprisonment, Feinburg= difference in severity and character (3) Brooks challenges this and says that the 2 are not entirely different and only vary in severity.
    Punishment must be of a person for breaking the law- targeting the guilty individual rather than an innocent group/individual simply because a crime took place. (4)
    Punishment must be administered and imposed intentionally by an authority with a legal system= intentionally inflicted on the criminal (4-5)
    Punishment must involve a loss, e.g. loss of liberty/money. However a loss shouldn’t be imposed for public entertainment but as a response to criminal activity (5) Many argue punishments involve pain, however Brooks disagrees claiming it’s difficult to see how this can be uniformly applied
    Aim and Distribution of Punishment
    Herbert Hart provides a system to classify theories of punishment:
    1. The definition of punishment.
    2. The general justifying aim of punishment
    3. The distribution of punishment (6)
    Legal moralism= linking the criminalisation of acts with their immorality.
    Crimes= public wrongs because they are moral wrongs of certain kinds.
    However, criminalising certain acts are problematic. e.g. lying. Need threshold- ‘Good’ citizens need not be morally good to avoid punishment- need only avoid what’s criminalised (7)
    Issue for legal moralism, is not only we fundamentally disagree on what we find immoral, but about what’s sufficiently immoral to be criminalised (8)
    Crimes such as murder and rape are acts viewed as wrong by most whether they are seen as crimes or not- recognised as mala in se crimes- ones that are wrong because they are made a crime. Often public rather than moral wrongs, e.g. speeding- victimless crime (8)
    The Harm Principle
    The Harm Principle: (according to John Stuart Mill) “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant”
    Principle grants we can criminalise acts where there are clear harms to others e.g. arson, rape, murder. Known as ‘other-regarding’, victimless crimes= ‘self-regarding’ (10)
    Legal moralism has the difficulty of accounting for crimes that may be considered mala prohibita. The harm principle has the difficulty of accounting for crimes that are self-regarding, or victimless. Problems in measuring levels of ‘harm’
    Brooks ‘our discussion of crime and punishment should not presuppose that all crimes are immoral or that all crimes are harms, or at least harms to others’ (11)

    14 Oct 2016, 00:03

  12. Lewis Boyce

    In his book “The Culture of Control”, Garland discusses the changes that the Uk and US prison systems have undergone, and gives a contemporary view of the current state of the punishment system. He notes a shift in the institutional, intellectual, organisational and practical frameworks of the criminal justice system that seems most acute in the 1970s. According to Garland, the idea of the penal-welfare state has been lost, replaced by the commercialisation and politicalisation of the modernist prison system. The penal-welfare system was one based in rehabilitation instead of cynical punishment, using correctionalist methods to establish facilities in which individualised treatment, criminology research and a intellectually liberal directive took precedence.

    He also mentions the process of the state monopolisation of criminal justice, and how the public has come to accept, and expect state sponsored crime prevention mechanisms. As the police force expanded, crime control became the duty of the state, and a task for paid professionals.

    14 Oct 2016, 08:50

  13. Muncie’s chapter uses a chronological framework to highlight three key moments of transformation and associated discursive rationales; reform at the end of the 18th Century, repression in the 19th Century and rehabilitation beginning in the 20th Century. He argues against an essentialist history, acknowledging the numerous arguments of penal reform. In this, Muncie focuses on two main schools of thought throughout his chapter: Whig traditions and revisionist traditions. Revisionism looks to retell the story of the Whigist notion of progress in penal reform. The first section is on ‘Gaols and Houses of Correction’, where by Muncie uses contextual background of the economy to place their histories. The next section on ‘Penal reform and the penitentiary’ uses acts such as the 1779 Penitentiary Act (the first government intervention in prison administration). We are then brought to the Whigist interpretation which, put simply, uses idealist views in which change occurs via accumulation of knowledge. It revolves around key individuals and the changes in the penal system are motivated by benevolence. Revisionist history challenges almost every notion of the Whigist interpretation, using the two variants of Orthodox Marxism, in which the systems of punishment are manipulated by the powerful to maintain cheap and reliable labour supply. The second one is a more complex, critical persuasion, placing more emphasis on ideological, political and legal transformations in the processes of restabilising order on a new foundation. In conclusion, we see what Cohen describes as four main histories in penal reform:
    1. Uneven progress – reform by benevolence and philanthropy. Whigist.
    2. Good (complicated) intentions but with disastrous consequences. Disillusioned liberals.
    3. Discipline – rhetoric of reform masks its real intentions of constructing a repressed and compliant labour force for capitalist exploitation (orthodox Marxist)
    4. Mystification – reform was not a failure for its true rationale of subjugating populations to coercive discipline. Continues to be a success in this respect. Revisionist.

    18 Oct 2016, 18:55


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