Analyzes social aspects of prison, covering various theories about the role and function of punishment in society in the United States, including how the culture of imprisonment carries over into everyday life through television shows, movies, prison tourism, and other avenues, and examines the negative impact of penal spectatorship.
Prisoner Radicalization and the Evolving Terrorist Threat
Author: Mark S. Hamm
Publisher: NYU Press
Category: Social Science
The Madrid train bombers, shoe-bomber Richard Reid, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the 9/11 attacks—all were led by men radicalized behind bars. By their very nature, prisons are intended to induce transformative experiences among inmates, but today’s prisons are hotbeds for personal transformation toward terrorist beliefs and actions due to the increasingly chaotic nature of prison life caused by mass incarceration. In The Spectacular Few, Mark Hamm demonstrates how prisoners use criminal cunning, collective resistance and nihilism to incite terrorism against Western targets. A former prison guard himself, Hamm knows the realities of day-to-day prison life and understands how prisoners socialize, especially the inner-workings and power of prison gangs—be they the Aryan Brotherhood or radical Islam. He shows that while Islam is mainly a positive influence in prison, certain forces within the prison Muslim movement are aligned with the efforts of al-Qaeda and its associates to inspire convicts in the United States and Europe to conduct terrorist attacks on their own. Drawing from a wide range of sources—including historical case studies of prisoner radicalization reaching from Gandhi and Hitler to Malcolm X, Bobby Sands and the detainees of Guantanamo; a database of cases linking prisoner radicalization with evolving terrorist threats ranging from police shootouts to suicide bombings; interviews with intelligence officers, prisoners affiliated with terrorist groups and those disciplined for conducting radicalizing campaigns in prison—The Spectacular Few imagines the texture of prisoners’ lives: their criminal thinking styles, the social networks that influenced them, and personal “turning points” that set them on the pathway to violent extremism. Hamm provides a broad understanding of how prisoners can be radicalized, arguing that in order to understand the contemporary landscape of terrorism, we must come to terms with how prisoners are treated behind bars.
“Carrying ahead the project of cultural criminology, Phillips and Strobl dare to take seriously that which amuses and entertains us—and to find in it the most significant of themes. Audiences, images, ideologies of justice and injustice—all populate the pages of Comic Book Crime. The result is an analysis as colorful as a good comic, and as sharp as the point on a superhero’s sword.”—Jeff Ferrell, author of Empire of Scrounge Superman, Batman, Daredevil, and Wonder Woman are iconic cultural figures that embody values of order, fairness, justice, and retribution. Comic Book Crime digs deep into these and other celebrated characters, providing a comprehensive understanding of crime and justice in contemporary American comic books. This is a world where justice is delivered, where heroes save ordinary citizens from certain doom, where evil is easily identified and thwarted by powers far greater than mere mortals could possess. Nickie Phillips and Staci Strobl explore these representations and show that comic books, as a historically important American cultural medium, participate in both reflecting and shaping an American ideological identity that is often focused on ideas of the apocalypse, utopia, retribution, and nationalism. Through an analysis of approximately 200 comic books sold from 2002 to 2010, as well as several years of immersion in comic book fan culture, Phillips and Strobl reveal the kinds of themes and plots popular comics feature in a post-9/11 context. They discuss heroes’ calculations of “deathworthiness,” or who should be killed in meting out justice, and how these judgments have as much to do with the hero’s character as they do with the actions of the villains. This fascinating volume also analyzes how class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation are used to construct difference for both the heroes and the villains in ways that are both conservative and progressive. Engaging, sharp, and insightful, Comic Book Crime is a fresh take on the very meaning of truth, justice, and the American way. Nickie D. Phillips is Associate Professor in the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. Staci Strobl is Associate Professor in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In the Alternative Criminology series
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law repealing one of the most controversial policies in American criminal justice history: the one hundred to one sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder whereby someone convicted of “simply” possessing five grams of crack—the equivalent of a few sugar packets—had been required by law to serve no less than five years in prison. In this highly original work, Dimitri A. Bogazianos draws on various sources to examine the profound symbolic consequences of America’s reliance on this punishment structure, tracing the rich cultural linkages between America’s War on Drugs, and the creative contributions of those directly affected by its destructive effects. Focusing primarily on lyrics that emerged in 1990s New York rap, which critiqued the music industry for being corrupt, unjust, and criminal, Bogazianos shows how many rappers began drawing parallels between the “rap game” and the “crack game." He argues that the symbolism of crack in rap’s stance towards its own commercialization represents a moral debate that is far bigger than hip hop culture, highlighting the degree to which crack cocaine—although a drug long in decline—has come to represent the entire paradoxical predicament of punishment in the U.S. today.
Despite being labeled as adults, the approximately 200,000 youth under the age of 18 who are now prosecuted as adults each year in criminal court are still adolescents, and the contradiction of their legal labeling creates numerous problems and challenges. In Courting Kids Carla Barrett takes us behind the scenes of a unique judicial experiment called the Manhattan Youth Part, a specialized criminal court set aside for youth prosecuted as adults in New York City. Focusing on the lives of those coming through and working in the courtroom, Barrett’s ethnography is a study of a microcosm that reflects the costs, challenges, and consequences the “tough on crime” age has had, especially for male youth of color. She demonstrates how the court, through creative use of judicial discretion and the cultivation of an innovative courtroom culture, developed a set of strategies for handling “adult-juvenile ” cases that embraced, rather than denied, defendants’ adolescence.
Why are newspapers and television programmes filled with stories about crime and criminals? Is their portrayal of crime accurate? How do the media transform our attitudes to crime? Is fear of crime, for example, really created by the media? The relationships between crime and the media have long been the subject of intense debate. From the earliest days of the printing press to the explosion of cyberspace chat rooms, there have been persistent concerns about the harmful criminogenic effects of the media. At the same time, the media are fascinated with crime – on the news, in films and on television there are countless stories about crime, both real and imagined. In this innovative and accessible new book, Eamonn Carrabine carefully untangles these debates, and grapples with the powerful dynamics of fear and desire that underlie our obsession with crime. Chapter-by-chapter the book introduces the different ways in which relationships between crime and the media have been understood, including classic debates about the media’s effects, news production, and moral panics, as well as more cutting-edge studies of the representation of crime in the contemporary media. Combining empirical research findings with the latest theoretical developments, the book will appeal to advanced undergraduates and graduate students across the social sciences, especially those taking courses in criminology and media studies.
"Austin sarat's the social organization of law: introductory readings begins with a simple premise-law seeks to work in the world, to order, change, and give meaning to society-and describes legal processes as socially organized. This connects legal studies to the study of society in two different senses."