RESEARCH BLOG

January 25, 2018

I recently replied to a press inquiry from a reporter interested in prison labor in the United States. Expecting to respond to questions about the on-the-ground practice or management of penal labor, I was instead asked a basic question: How many prisoners actually wor...

February 6, 2017

At this moment, millions of men and women around TVs everywhere are watching the Patriots and Falcons in Super Bowl LI (51 to non-Romans such as myself). Many of these viewers are behind bars in US prisons. Indeed, during my 18 months in "Sunbelt State Penitentiary" (S...

November 25, 2016

The presidential victory of Donald Trump came as a surprise to some, including the investors behind the nation's largest private prison firms. In the days following the DOJ's announcement in August that it would move away from private prisons in the federal system, the...

September 23, 2016

One month ago, the US Department of Justice made a major announcement that the federal prison system would be moving away from the use of private prisons. As contracts with private prison management corporations expire, the DOJ will not be renewing them (or will signif...

September 9, 2016

Authenticity has many definitions. It is often thought of as something inherent in a person or object–your (or its) “true nature” that just needs to be realized. (Dr. Phil loves this idea.) But, sociologically speaking, this is not very helpful. Who gets to decide what...

August 4, 2016

Last month, I gave a brief conference presentation on informal economies in US state prisons. More specifically, I presented some in-progress research detailing a shift away from cigarettes as inmate "funny money" and towards ramen noodle packets as the de facto prison...

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