The Violence of Incarceration
Edited by Phil Scraton, Jude McCulloch
Routledge – 2009 – 280 pages
Conceived in the immediate aftermath of the humiliations and killings of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq, of the suicides and hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay and of the disappearances of detainees through extraordinary rendition, this book explores the connections between these shameful events and the inhumanity and degradation of domestic prisons within the 'allied' states, including the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK and Ireland.
The central theme is that the revelations of extreme brutality perpetrated by allied soldiers represent the inevitable end-product of domestic incarceration predicated on the use of extreme violence including lethal force. Exposing as fiction the claim to the political moral high ground made by western liberal democracies is critical because such claims animate and legitimate global actions such as the 'war on terror' and the indefinite detention of tens of thousands of people by the United States which accompanies it. The myth of moral virtue works to hide, silence, minimize and deny the brutal continuing history of violence and incarceration both within western countries and undertaken on behalf of western states beyond their national borders.
A powerful and scholarly analysis of the modern penal context which locates the horrors of Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Bagram Air Base firmly within a long western tradition of penal violence. Essential reading. – Professor Penny Green, Chair, Research Degrees Committee, Director, Law School Research Centre, University of Westminster
Western liberal democracies appear to use imprisonment with ‘good conscience’, denying the violence which is the ever-present potential of the dehumanisation and demonisation of those incarcerated. Academic writing, while critical of the over-use of imprisonment, the ineffectiveness of imprisonment for reducing crime, and the over-imprisonment of particular social groups, too often uses the muted, rational-sounding language of risk-management, coupling rights with responsibilities, and bringing about change. This volume brings together rigorously researched examples of the violence of incarceration, showing that this is present in prisons, in immigration detention centres, and in children’s institutions, and that it is present in different countries as well as across different forms of detention. The book challenges readers to look behind the penal language and see the violence and humiliation involved in imprisonment. It should be essential reading for academics, policy-makers, and practitioners concerned with detention in its many forms and many settings. – Professor Barbara Hudson, Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice, Lancashire Law School, University of Central Lancashire, UK
Western governments boast about the ‘rule of law’ and the ‘duty of care’ governing the treatment of those men, women and children who are incarcerated. But the evidence of this carefully researched book is that from little known provincial asylums, to out of the way children’s detention centres, to the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the experience of confi nement still brutalises those who suffer it, and indeed, those we employ to manage it. The evidence presented here suggests that in many cases western governments are not in the least embarrassed that the current punitive drift, legitimated by the ‘war on terror’, is narrowing defi nitions of what would have once been thought of as the ‘inhuman’ or ‘degrading’ treatment of prisoners. The knock-on effect of this on routine institutional practices across the board is already discernible in America and among its allies. I can think of no better text for drawing attention to this punitive drift. It makes a compelling case against the escalating use of imprisonment, speaking on behalf of those who are trapped in an ever expanding network of brutal disciplinary institutions, the purpose of which is to reproduce (and reinforce) the inequalities of power along gender, ethnic and class lines that continue to characterise modern societies. – Professor Mick Ryan, University of Greenwich, London, UK
An important collection based on detailed case studies across a number of jurisdictions by leading prison researchers. All, in various ways, trace the connections between the ‘exceptional’ forms of violence, terror, torture and abuse that have publicly surfaced in what Judith Butler calls the ‘new war prison’ and the routine and usually hidden practices of the ‘normal’ domestic prison or detention centre. Powerful stuff. – Professor David Brown, Law Faculty, University of New South Wales Australia.
Incarceration is pointless, and so these voices tell us – voices much needed in the midst of global carceral insanity. Hear these voices please! – Professor Hal Pepinsky, Department of Criminal Justice, Indiana University, USA
The Violence of Incarceration pulls together many of the pressing and distressing issues that link criminal justice and ‘the global war on terror’. From California to Ireland to the US airbase at Bagram, patterns of physical brutality and psychological cruelty repeat and reproduce like political fractals spinning off racism, misogyny and torture. With human rights and human dignity as its magnetic north, this powerful book helps map the often hidden and forgotten terrain of state repression. – Dr. Christian Parenti, Author of Lockdown America, The Soft Cage and The Freedom.
This timely text addresses the exponential growth of imprisonment and carceral violence, across the globe. Written and edited by internationally noted critical scholars, these essays map the political utility of imprisonment, and the consequent disregard for human rights and the attendant violence of repressive prison regimes. The trends elucidated serve as a warning to us all. – Professor Robert Gaucher, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa, Canada
1. The Violence of Incarceration: An Introduction Jude McCulloch and Phil Scraton 2. An Afternoon in September 1983 Laurence McKeown 3. Entombing Resistance: Institutional Power and Polarisation in the Jika Jika High-Security Unit Bree Carlton 4. Protests and ‘Riots’ in the Violent Institution Phil Scraton 5. Child Incarceration: Institutional Abuse, the Violent State and the Politics of Impunity Barry Goldson 6. Naked Power: Strip-Searching in Women’s Prisons Jude McCulloch and Amanda George 7. The Imprisonment of Women and Girls in the North of Ireland: A ‘Continuum of Violence’ Linda Moore and Phil Scraton 8. Neither Kind Nor Gentle: The Perils of ‘Gender Responsive Justice' Cassandra Shaylor 9. The US Military Prison: The Normalcy of Exceptional Brutality Avery F. Gordon 10. A Reign of Penal Terror: US Global Statecraft and the Technology of Punishment and Capture Dylan Rodríguez 11. Indigenous Incarceration: The Violence of Colonial Law and Justice Chris Cunneen 12. The Violence of Refugee Incarceration Jude McCulloch and Sharon Pickering 13. Preventing Torture and Casual Cruelty in Prisons through Independent Monitoring Diana Medlicott
Phil Scraton is Professor of Criminology in the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast. His latest books are Power, Conflict and Criminalisation, Hillsborough: The Truth (3rd edition) and The Incarceration of Women
Jude McCulloch is Professor of Criminology in the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Her latest book is Counter-terrorism: Community, Cohesion and Security.