Punishment and Society Legitimacy, Probity and Standards in Prison

Alison Liebling, Cambridge University
Richard Sparks, Keele University
Elaine Crawley, University of Keele
Mona Lynch, San Jose State University

ABSTRACT
As commentators suvch as Simon and Wacquant have separately noted the same political and cultural conditions that impel drastic increases in prison populations can inhibit concerted examination of life within prisons. In consequence both maiunstream and critical discourses on imprisonment are increasingly produced at some remove from the social, personal and emotional predicaments that incarceration imposes on custodians and captives. This discussion seeks to contribute to the reanimation in contemporary settings of the sociological concern with direct observation and actors' accounts of the basic terms of institutional life The implications of such work are not confined to reportage, however. They incloude the vexed problems of legitimation; the vocational commitments of custodial workers; and the defense or erosion of decency in adverse environments.

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Updated 05/20/2006