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Posts Tagged ‘High Impact Incarceration Program’

The New Penology – INNOVATIONS

“Our description may seem to imply the onset of a reactive age in which
penal managers strive to manage populations of marginal citizens with no
concomitant effort toward integration into mainstream society. This may
seem hard to square with the myriad new and innovative technologies introduced
over the past decade. Indeed the media, which for years have portrayed
the correctional system as a failure, have recently enthusiastically
reported on these innovations: boot camps, electronic surveillance, high
security “campuses” for drug users, house arrest, intensive parole and probation,
and drug treatment programs. 

Although some of the new proposals are presented in terms of the “old
penology” and emphasize individuals, normalization, and rehabilitation, it is
risky to come to any firm conviction about how these innovations will turn
out. If historians of punishment have provided any clear lessons, it is that
reforms evolve in ways quite different from the aims of their proponents. Thus, we wonder if these most recent
innovations won’t be recast in the terms outlined in this paper. Many of these
innovations are compatible with the imperatives of the new penology, that is,
managing a permanently dangerous population while maintaining the system
at a minimum cost. 

One of the current innovations most in vogue with the press and politicians
are correctional “boot camps.” These are minimum security custodial facilities,
usually for youthful first offenders, designed on the model of a training
center for military personnel, complete with barracks, physical exercise, and
tough drill sergeants. Boot camps are portrayed as providing discipline and
pride to young offenders brought up in the unrestrained culture of poverty (as
though physical fitness could fill the gap left by the weakening of families,
schools, neighborhoods, and other social organizations in the inner city). 

The camps borrow explicitly from a military model of discipline, which has
influenced penality from at least the eighteenth century – 

the prison borrowed from the earlier innovations in the organization of spaces and bodies undertaken by the most advanced European military forces.   No doubt the
image of inmates smartly dressed in uniforms performing drills and calisthenics
appeals to long-standing ideals of order in post-Enlightenment culture.
But in its proposed application to corrections, the military model is even less
appropriate now than when it was rejected in the nineteenth century; indeed,
today’s boot camps are more a simulation of discipline than the real thing.  

In the nineteenth century the military model was superseded by another model of discipline, the factory. Inmates were controlled by making them
work at hard industrial labor. It was
assumed that forced labor would inculcate in offenders the discipline required
of factory laborers, so that they might earn their keep while in custody and
join the ranks of the usefully employed when released. One can argue that
this model did not work very well, but at least it was coherent. The model of
discipline through labor suited our capitalist democracy in a way the model
of a militarized citizenry did not. 

The recent decline of employment opportunities among the populations of
urban poor most at risk for conventional crime involvement has left the applicability
of industrial discipline in doubt. But the substitution of the boot
camp for vocational training is even less plausible. Even if the typical 90-day
regime of training envisioned by proponents of boot camps is effective in
reorienting its subjects, at best it can only produce soldiers without a company
to join. Indeed, the grim vision of the effect of boot camp is that it will
be effective for those who will subsequently put their lessons of discipline and
organization to use in street gangs and drug distribution networks. However,
despite the earnestness with which the boot camp metaphor is touted, we
suspect that the camps will be little more than holding pens for managing a
short-term, mid-range risk population.” 

– Malcolm M. Feeley & Jonathan Simon, “The New Penology: Notes on the Emerging Strategy of Corrections and Its Implications.” 30 Criminology 449 (1992), pp. 463-464.

Image is: “Inmates jog laps aound their barracks They are in a High Impact Incarceration Program at Rikers Island, mid-1990s.

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