Exploring causes behind the rise of Imprisonment

Imprisonment has increased dramatically in both the United States and Europe since the 1970s. Which factors account for this addition? Discuss the undermentioned statements. 1 ) Imprisonment has increased because of lifting offense rates, and 2 ) Imprisonment has increased because of the growing of the “ prison-industrial composite. ” Is there a convergence in carceral policies in the United States and Europe? Why or why non? In your reply, pull on the readings and talks. Present and construe informations to back up your claims.

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The prison is deceasing. By the mid-1970s this was the sentiment in the U.S. Incarceration rates were low and governmental functionaries and faculty members all seemed to hold that imprisonment did non forestall offense and that it should be used as a last resort ( Wacquant 2009 ) .

The prisonless scenario did non happen, to state the least. Between 1975 and 2000, the figure of inmates in U.S. prisons exploded, traveling from 380,000 to 1.9 million ( Wacquant 2009 ) . Today between 2.3 and 2.4 million Americans are in prison, around one in every 100 grownups ; in 1970 the ratio was below one in every 400 ( The Economist 2010 ) . Imprisonment has increased dramatically in Europe every bit good ( albeit non every bit steeply as in the U.S. ) . In some states, like the Netherlands, the figure of inmates has increased by more than 200 per centum over the last decennaries ( Wacquant 2009 ) .

The neoliberal penal province

The detonation of captivity must be seen in conjuncture with some other major tendencies which have taken topographic point over the last decennaries. In the postwar epoch, working life was stable, people worked full-time their full callings for a liveable pay ( Wacquant 2001 ) , and province policies were based on solidarity and intercession to forestall inauspicious effects of the market and cut down inequalities in society ( Wacquant 2001 ) .

Since the 1970s neoliberal economic and societal policies have eradicated the stableness and safety of the postwar epoch. The consequences are higher inequality, a unstable labour market, poorness and societal agitation ( Wacquant 10/11/2010, talk ) . Wacquant ( 2009 ) writes that the addition in imprisonment is a direct effect of this ; the penal system is used as a tool to pull off the negative results – concentrated in the lowest, most vulnerable societal categories – of deregulated pay work and less public assistance protection. Neoliberal policies which weaken the province ‘s function in economic and societal affairs necessitate a strengthening of the province on the punitory side ( Wacquant 2009 ) : the “ unseeable manus ” of the market together with the “ Fe fist ” of the penal province ( Wacquant 2009 ) .

The ground why the growing of the penal system goes manus in manus with neoliberal economic and societal policy is that the former has three of import maps ( Wacquant 2001 ) : First, it disciplines the lowest category into accepting the new, unstable labour market as ( most ) people would instead hold an underpaid, unsure occupation than be in gaol. Second, it merely warehouses those in the lowest category who choose non to work but alternatively resort to antisocial behaviour. Finally, it compensates the shortage of legitimacy that politicians face as their function weakens more and more on the economic and societal forepart. The same politicians, both Right and Left, who have given up the province ‘s function as an agent for economic wellbeing and societal safety, are being “ tough on offense ” to confirm the province as powerful and of import ( Wacquant 10/11/2010, talk ) .

The “ tough on offense ” docket has been propagated by powerful neoliberal think armored combat vehicles, such as the Manhattan Institute in New York – the same intellectuals, significantly, who besides have been at the head when it comes to recommending the province ‘s backdown from economic and societal policy ( Wacquant 2009 ) . These think armored combat vehicles have managed to make a discourse where politicians, faculty members and the media all agree that the penal province is necessary to battle phenomena like “ juvenile offense ” and “ urban force ” ( Wacquant 2009 ) .

To sum up, the explosive growing of imprisonment and the penal province is the western, postindustrial province ‘s manner of commanding and pull offing the hapless lowest categories who have been “ destabilized by the revolution in pay work and the weakening of societal protection ” ( Wacquant 2009, p. 130 ) . This is done under the head covering of contending offense, efficaciously criminalizing the hapless and peculiarly aiming inkinesss ( in the U.S. ) and ( second-generation ) colored immigrants ( in Europe ) as these are the groups most adversely affected by neoliberal policies ( Wacquant 2009 ) .

Crime rates and the prison-industrial composite

There are those who propagate that the penal province is a crime-fighting tool, i.e. that the addition in imprisonment is a consequence of lifting offense rates. A expression at some statistics disproves this claim. Harmonizing to Wacquant ( 2008 ) , keeping offense invariable shows that the U.S. was five times more punitory in 1999 than in 1975. Actually, over the last decennaries offense rates have been stable and so worsening ( Wacquant 2009 ) . New York, one of the early bastions of the new punitory province, has been internationally hailed for its rough zero-tolerance offense policy, based on its falling offense rates in the 1990s. However, this diminution took topographic point before the zero-tolerance policies, and metropoliss without such policies ( e.g. Boston and San Francisco ) besides experienced worsening offense rates ( Wacquant 2009 ) .

Surveies done in many states find no important correlativity between offense rates and captivity rates. What they do happen is a important relationship between the deterioration of labour markets and the figure of people in prison ( Wacquant 2009 ) . In amount, the addition in imprisonment can non be explained by higher offense rates.

Another claim is that the growing of the penal system is a consequence of the growing of a alleged “ prison-industrial composite ” ( PIC ) , the thought being that there exists a powerful web of private concern involvements which cooperates with politicians to spread out the penal province for net incomes ; this web is thought to be overlapping or at least related to the alleged military-industrial composite ( MIC ) which net incomes from war ( Wacquant 2009 ) . This theory is flawed, nevertheless. First, U.S. judicial/penal policy, unlike military policy, is non controlled by a centralised government organic structure ; the disconnected, extremely decentralised nature of the judicial/penal system would do it impossible for any group to merely use it in their ain involvement ( Wacquant 2009 ) . Second, the impression that a private net income motivation is the beginning of increased imprisonment makes small sense. While private houses do earn from presenting supplies to prisons, this is the instance with all public goods. The prison system is really much a public system ( Wacquant 2009 ) . Wacquant ( 2009 ) besides points out that the net incomes from inmate labour is negligible and that the PIC is a non critical portion of the U.S. economic system as some claim. In 2001, the U.S. spent 57 billion on corrections ; this was less than 0.5 per centum of gross domestic merchandise ( Wacquant 2009 ) . The prison is a political device, non an economic ( Wacquant 10/11/2010, talk ) .

The U.S. and Europe convergence?

As earlier mentioned, imprisonment has increased in both the U.S. and in Europe. And the sentiments are the same – a terror over “ youth delinquents ” , “ job vicinities ” and “ urban offense ” ( Wacquant 2009 ) – every bit good as the rhetoric ( “ war on offense ” , “ recapturing public infinite ” etc. ) ( Wacquant 2009 ) . Are these marks of a convergence in carceral policies in Europe and the U.S. ?

Yes, in the sense that Europe has been meeting toward the U.S. The rise of the penal province in Europe is due to the U.S. exporting its neoliberal penal policies. The aforesaid U.S. think armored combat vehicles have forged rational ties with likeminded establishments in Europe, peculiarly in England which has traditionally been a topographic point of market-friendly liberalism. Wacquant ( 2009 ) writes that England has acted as a “ Trojan Equus caballus ” , intending that U.S. penal policies have spread throughout Europe after ab initio being imported to England. This has been really successful, and politicians both on the Right and the Left have been eager to implement American policies ( Wacquant 2009 ) , helped along by faculty members who, for the interest of celebrity and influence, have sacrificed their rational liberty and legitimized the new penal policies by giving them a ill researched academic shininess ( Wacquant 2009 ) .

So, Wacquant ( 2009, p. 118 ) writes that “ a new neoliberal penal common sense is therefore being propagated across Europe ” , organizing a consensus around carceral policy similar to the consensus around economic and societal policy ( Wacquant 2009 ) .

However, it is of import to observe that European states are non importing and imitating American policies blindly ; they are accommodating them to their ain demands and traditions ( Wacquant 2009 ) and many states ( e.g. France, Italy, Germany ) are uniting stronger penal ordinance with societal policies instead than replacing penality for public assistance the manner the U.S. has done ( Wacquant 2001 ) . Whether this constitutes a separate European route or merely a measure on the route to American hyperincarceration remains to be seen ( Wacquant 2001 ) . It should besides be mentioned that non all European states have experienced a dramatic addition in imprisonment over the last decennaries. Sweden has seen a moderate addition, Norway and Denmark have seen stagnancy, Finland has really seen a lessening of more than 40 per centum ( Wacquant 2009 ) . In visible radiation of what we have discussed, it should non come as a surprise that these Nordic states besides have displayed a comparatively high strong opposition toward economic deregulating and public assistance retrenchment.

But despite some differences and exclusions, the overall image is clearly that Western, advanced societies on both side of the Atlantic have been, and are, traveling in a way to command low-class populations who are fighting with unstable, underpaid work and other negative effects of economic deregulating and public assistance retrenchment. The additions in imprisonment are a clear mark of this.


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