Re-Policing the Poor: The Effects of Probation and Parole Status

Lori-Beth Way, California State University - Chico

ABSTRACT
Americans have become increasingly unconcerned with the numbers of individuals who are incarcerated in this country (Garland, 2001). In essence, society has come to a tacit acceptance of numerous stints of incarceration for segments of the population as a way of life. Feely and Simon (1992) identify an emerging trend in criminology. Thjey argue that a new penology has developed that has different goals, ideologies, and practices than was employed in the 1970s and preceding decades. One of the results of the new penology is continuous criminal justice supervision for the underclasses. This population is segmented into various areas of the criminal justice system basedon their supposed risk to society. The criminal justice system becomes, then, a risk management system that "regulates" the poor and unemployed under the guise of keeping the rest of the populace safe. My primary data sources are observations and interviews with police officers in a major California city. This research is a preliminary indication of the role that the police play in the new penology. I argue that through proactive or self-initiated policing tactics, patrol officers focus on individuals on probation or parole for a variety of reasons.

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Updated 05/20/2006