Scholarly Undergraduate Research Journal at Clark (SURJ)

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Patricia Ewick

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carceral geography, spatial power, surveillance, community corrections, mass incarceration, critical criminology


In the age of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow (2010), promises to depopulate overcrowded American prisons, and a mainstream acknowledgement of mass incarceration, the American criminal justice system is anything but inert. Instead, modalities of punishment are shifting, particularly towards community-located corrections involving GPS surveillance. This paper seeks to examine this evolution of the carceral state through the marriage of two theoretical lenses: carceral geography and Foucauldian spatial power analysis. Carceral geography offers a theory of the embodied nuance of movement. Its work revolves around the three mobilities of the carceral system: movement to/from, within, and between prisons. This paper argues that community-located corrections comprises a fourth mobility, moving the carceral regime into communities and coercively moving bodies within those communities. Foucault supplements this analysis by offering a system to evaluate how space expresses power; this paper argues that community corrections fit Foucault’s model in that they distribute and disciplined bodies into partitioned space. Finally, having dug into the theoretical ramifications of a shift to community corrections, this paper will evaluate policy decisions, arguing that the racist violence of brick-and-mortar prisons justifies policy evolution, but that typical community corrections will not be a panacea for deeply rooted structural flaws.



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