About this topic
Summary Incarceration - the practice of placing people in custody - became a criminal sanctions during the end of the 18th century. Until then, criminals were never incarcerated as a punishment. Prison was rather a means of holding suspects until they where being punished. Nowadays, it is a well established form of punishment. In many western countries, lifetime sentences is the harshest form of punishment. Still - and especially in comparison to the death penalty - imprisonment has received little attention from moral philosophers. This is surprising, since imprisonment gives rise to many philosophical and ethical questions: Should prisoners be allowed to work? Should prisoners retain their political rights? Does prisoners have moral rights to access certain forms recreation and entertainment? Do we earn special moral duties towards families and children to prison inmates? Should prisoners be able to enjoy privacy? Can extensive and prolonged solitary confinement be morally defensible at all? Nowadays, most notably in the U.S, the presence of private prisons raises further questions about the limits - if there are any - of markets. The two books listed in the below provide a good starting point for anyone who wishes to discuss the ethics of imprisonment. Lippke's book is a monograph which develops and defends a retributivist account of imprisonment, and deals explicitly with such issues as prison work, prisoners political rights, rights to entertainment and recreation, among other topics. The latter book is an anthology where eminent criminologists address, among other things, the impacts and effects prison has for inmates, staff, and inmates' families.
Introductions [1] Lippke, Richard. 2007. Rethinking Imprisonment Oxford, Oxford University Press [2] Liebling, Alison.&Maruna, Shadd. (ed.) 2005. The effects of imprisonment. Cullompton: Willan.
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  1. Democratic Self-Determination and the Disenfranchisement of Felons.Andrew Altman - 2005 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 22 (3):263–273.
  2. Bodily Privacy, Toilets, and Sex Discrimination: The Problem of "Manhood" in a Women's Prison.Jami L. Anderson - 2009 - In Olga Gershenson Barbara Penner (ed.), Ladies and Gents. pp. 90.
    Unjustifiable assumptions about sex and gender roles, the untamable potency of maleness, and gynophobic notions about women's bodies inform and influence a broad range of policy-making institutions in this society. In December 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit continued this ignoble cultural pastime when they decided Everson v. Michigan Department of Corrections. In this decision, the Everson Court accepted the Michigan Department of Correction's claim that “the very manhood” of male prison guards both threatens the safety (...)
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  3. Jails, Prisons, and Your Community's Health.David Andress, Tara Wildes, Dianne Rechtine & Kenneth P. Moritsugu - 2004 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 32 (s4):50-51.
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  4. Prisoners' Rights.Hugo Adam Bedau - 1982 - Criminal Justice Ethics 1 (1):26-41.
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  5. Penal Disenfranchisement.Christopher Bennett - 2016 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (3):411-425.
    This paper considers the justifiability of removing the right to vote from those convicted of crimes. Firstly, I consider the claim that the removal of the right to vote from prisoners is necessary as a practical matter to protect the democratic process from those who have shown themselves to be untrustworthy. Secondly, I look at the claim that offenders have broken the social contract and forfeited rights to participate in making law. And thirdly, I look at the claim that the (...)
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  6. The Panopticon Writings.Jeremy Bentham & Miran Boézoviéc - 1995
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  7. The Panopticon Writings.Jeremy Bentham & Miran Bozovic - 1995
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  8. The Prisons of Man.James Bernauer - 1987 - International Philosophical Quarterly 27 (4):365-380.
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  9. Consequences Matter More: In Defense of Instrumentalism on Private Versus Public Prisons.Jason Brennan - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (4):801-815.
    Alon Harel wants to show that punishment is a kind of symbolic expression that, as a matter of metaphysical necessity, can only be performed by governmental agents. Contrary to Harel, I argue private agents can in fact realize those features he argues only public agents can realize. I also argue that, even if he were right that only public guards and wardens can punish, it’s unclear why we would have an all-things-considered rather than merely a pro tanto/prima facie duty to (...)
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  10. Granting the Suffrage to Felons in Prison.Saul Brenner & Nicholas J. Caste - 2003 - Journal of Social Philosophy 34 (2):228–243.
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  11. Richard L. Lippke,Rethinking Imprisonment:Rethinking Imprisonment.Thom Brooks - 2008 - Ethics 118 (3):562-564.
    This is a review of Richard Lippke - "Rethinking Imprisonment".
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  12. Women in Prison and Work.Marilyn Buck - 2004 - Feminist Studies 30 (2):451-455.
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  13. Albert W. Dzur, Ian Loader, and Richard Sparks Democratic Theory and Mass Incarceration. Oxford University Press, 2016, 360 Pp. ISBN 9780190243098, £18.99. [REVIEW]William Bülow - 2017 - Theoria 83 (3):262-267.
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  14. The Harms Beyond Imprisonment: Do We Have Special Moral Obligations Towards the Families and Children of Prisoners?William Bülow - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (4):775-789.
    This paper discusses whether the collateral harm of imprisonment to the close family members and children of prison inmates may give rise to special moral obligations towards them. Several collateral harms, including decreased psychological wellbeing, financial costs, loss of economic opportunities, and intrusion and control over their private lives, are identified. Two competing perspectives in moral philosophy are then applied in order to assess whether the harms are permissible. The first is consequentialist and the second is deontological. It is argued (...)
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  15. Treating Inmates as Moral Agents: A Defense of the Right to Privacy in Prison.William Bülow - 2014 - Criminal Justice Ethics 33 (1):1-20.
    This paper addresses the question of prison inmates' right to privacy from an ethical perspective. I argue that the right to privacy is important because of its connection to moral agency and that the protection of privacy is warranted by different established philosophical theories about the justification of legal punishment. I discuss the practical implications of this argument by addressing two potential problems. First, how much privacy should be allowed during imprisonment in order to meet the criteria of respecting inmates (...)
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  16. Mass Incarceration and the Theory of Punishment.Vincent Chiao - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (3):431-452.
    An influential strain in the literature on state punishment analyzes the permissibility of punishment in exclusively deontological terms, whether in terms of an individual’s rights, the state’s obligation to vindicate the law, or both. I argue that we should reject a deontological theory of punishment because it cannot explain what is unjust about mass incarceration, although mass incarceration is widely considered—including by proponents of deontological theories—to be unjust. The failure of deontological theories suggests a minimum criterion of adequacy for a (...)
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  17. Political Theory and Philosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration.Natalie Cisneros & Andrew T. Dilts - 2014 - Radical Philosophy Review 17 (2):395-402.
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  18. Prison on Appeal: The Idea of Communicative Incarceration.Alasdair Cochrane - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (2):295-312.
    In the classic abolitionist text, Prison on Trial, Thomas Mathieson argues that imprisonment cannot be justified by appeal to any standard punitive aim: rehabilitation, deterrence, incapacitation, or retribution. The aim of this paper is to give prison an ‘appeal hearing’: to examine whether it can be justified by a set of punitive aims not considered by Mathieson. In particular, it asks whether imprisonment can be justified by the ‘communicative’ theory of punishment proposed by Antony Duff. Duff sees imprisonment as having (...)
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  19. The Ethics of End-of-Life Care for Prison Inmates.Felicia Cohn - 1999 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 27 (3):252-259.
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  20. Racialized Punishment and Prison Abolition.Angela Y. Davis - 2003 - In Tommy Lee Lott & John P. Pittman (eds.), A Companion to African-American Philosophy. Blackwell.
  21. Long Kesh Prison Resistance : Its Influence on the Irish Peace Process.Claire Delisle - 2009 - In Mark Evans (ed.), International Journal of Ethics. Nova Science Publishers. pp. 117-128.
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  22. Criminal Rehabilitation Through Medical Intervention: Moral Liability and the Right to Bodily Integrity.Thomas Douglas - 2014 - The Journal of Ethics 18 (2):101-122.
    Criminal offenders are sometimes required, by the institutions of criminal justice, to undergo medical interventions intended to promote rehabilitation. Ethical debate regarding this practice has largely proceeded on the assumption that medical interventions may only permissibly be administered to criminal offenders with their consent. In this article I challenge this assumption by suggesting that committing a crime might render one morally liable to certain forms of medical intervention. I then consider whether it is possible to respond persuasively to this challenge (...)
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  23. Coercion, Incarceration, and Chemical Castration: An Argument From Autonomy.Thomas Douglas, Pieter Bonte, Farah Focquaert, Katrien Devolder & Sigrid Sterckx - 2013 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 10 (3):393-405.
    In several jurisdictions, sex offenders may be offered chemical castration as an alternative to further incarceration. In some, agreement to chemical castration may be made a formal condition of parole or release. In others, refusal to undergo chemical castration can increase the likelihood of further incarceration though no formal link is made between the two. Offering chemical castration as an alternative to further incarceration is often said to be partially coercive, thus rendering the offender’s consent invalid. The dominant response to (...)
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  24. Risk Assessment Tools in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychiatry: The Need for Better Data.Thomas Douglas, Jonathan Pugh, Illina Singh, Julian Savulescu & Seena Fazel - 2017 - European Psychiatry 42:134-137.
    Violence risk assessment tools are increasingly used within criminal justice and forensic psychiatry, however there is little relevant, reliable and unbiased data regarding their predictive accuracy. We argue that such data are needed to (i) prevent excessive reliance on risk assessment scores, (ii) allow matching of different risk assessment tools to different contexts of application, (iii) protect against problematic forms of discrimination and stigmatisation, and (iv) ensure that contentious demographic variables are not prematurely removed from risk assessment tools.
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  25. Should the Late Stage Demented Be Punished for Past Crimes?Annette Dufner - 2013 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 7 (1):137-150.
    The paper investigates whether it is plausible to hold the late stage demented criminally responsible for past actions. The concern is based on the fact that policy makers in the United States and in Britain are starting to wonder what to do with prison inmates in the later stages of dementia who do not remember their crimes anymore. The problem has to be expected to become more urgent as the population ages and the number of dementia patients increases. This paper (...)
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  26. Democratic Theory and Mass Incarceration.Albert Dzur, Ian Loader & Richard Sparks (eds.) - 2016 - Oxford University Press USA.
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  27. The Case Against Forced Methadone Detox in the US Prisons.Daniel D’Hotman, Jonathan Pugh & Thomas Douglas - forthcoming - Public Health Ethics:phw040.
    Methadone maintenance therapy is a cost-effective, evidence-based treatment for heroin dependence. In the USA, a majority of heroin-dependent offenders are forced to detox from methadone when incarcerated. Recent research published in The Lancet has demonstrated the negative health and economic outcomes associated with such policies. Methadone Continuation Versus Forced Withdrawal on Incarceration in a Combined US Prison and Jail: A Randomised, Open Label Trial. The Lancet, 386, 350–359). This novel evidence raises questions as to the justification for current policies of (...)
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  28. The Modern Prison System of India.W. Norwood East - 1945 - The Eugenics Review 37 (2):77.
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  29. Emerging Issues in Prison Health.Bernice Elger, Catherine Ritter & Heino Stöver (eds.) - forthcoming - Springer.
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  30. A Prison System That Does Good?Kath Engebretson - 1996 - Ethics Education 2 (2).
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  31. Understanding, Dismantling, and Disrupting the Prison-to-School Pipeline.Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner, Lori Latrice Martin, Roland W. Mitchell, Karen Bennett-Haron & Arash Daneshzadeh (eds.) - 2016 - Lexington Books.
    This volume provides a concentrated and powerful dialog about the nexus between schools, prisons, and the free-market economy where youth are on fast tracks from schools to prisons.
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  32. Hypocrisy, Inconsistency, and the Moral Standing of the State.Kyle G. Fritz - forthcoming - Criminal Law and Philosophy:1-19.
    Several writers have argued that the state lacks the moral standing to hold socially deprived offenders responsible for their crimes because the state would be hypocritical in doing so. Yet the state is not disposed to make an unfair exception of itself for committing the same sorts of crimes as socially deprived offenders, so it is unclear that the state is truly hypocritical. Nevertheless, the state is disposed to inconsistently hold its citizens responsible, blaming or punishing socially deprived offenders more (...)
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  33. Prisons.Ann Gaines & Austin Sarat - 1998
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  34. Prisoners' Dilemma for Prisoners.Sidney Gendin - 1989 - Criminal Justice Ethics 8 (1):23-25.
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  35. Prison Through a Philosophic Prism.Raam P. Gokhale - 2012 - Philosophy Pathways 174.
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  36. Prisoners as Living Organ Donors: The Case of the Scott Sisters.Aviva M. Goldberg & Joel Frader - 2011 - American Journal of Bioethics 11 (10):15 - 16.
    The American Journal of Bioethics, Volume 11, Issue 10, Page 15-16, October 2011.
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  37. Dollars, Sense, and Penal Reform: Social Movements and the Future of the Carceral State.Marie Gottschalk - 2007 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 74 (2):669-694.
    Nearly one in every 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison today. In a period dominated by calls to roll back the government in all areas of social and economic policy, we have witnessed its massive expansion in the realm of penal policy since the 1970s. The U.S. incarceration rate is now more than 737 per 100,000 people, or five to 12 times the rate of Western European countries and Japan . The reach of the U.S. (...)
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  38. Prison Doesn’T Work.Stuart Greenstreet - 2014 - Philosophy Now 102:6-8.
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  39. Commentary: Disabled Prisoners and Reasonable Accommodation”.Robert B. Greifinger - 2006 - Criminal Justice Ethics 25 (1):2-55.
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  40. The Ethics of Captivity.Lori Gruen (ed.) - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    Though conditions of captivity vary widely for humans and for other animals, there are common ethical themes that imprisonment raises. This volume brings together scholars, scientists, and sanctuary workers to address these issues in fifteen new essays.
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  41. Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives.Lisa Guenther - 2013 - Minnesota University Press.
    Prolonged solitary confinement has become a widespread and standard practice in U.S. prisons—even though it consistently drives healthy prisoners insane, makes the mentally ill sicker, and, according to the testimony of prisoners, threatens to reduce life to a living death. In this profoundly important and original book, Lisa Guenther examines the death-in-life experience of solitary confinement in America from the early nineteenth century to today’s supermax prisons. Documenting how solitary confinement undermines prisoners’ sense of identity and their ability to understand (...)
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  42. Beyond Dehumanization: A Post-Humanist Critique of Intensive Confinement.Lisa Guenther - 2012 - Journal of Critical Animal Studies. Special Issue on Animals and Prisons 10 (2).
    Prisoners involved in the Attica rebellion and in the recent Georgia prison strike have protested their dehumanizing treatment as animals and as slaves. Their critique is crucial for tracing the connections between slavery, abolition, the racialization of crime, and the reinscription of racialized slavery within the US prison system. I argue that, in addition to the dehumanization of prisoners, inmates are further de-animalized when they are held in conditions of intensive confinement such as prolonged solitude or chronic overcrowding. To be (...)
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  43. Subjects Without a World? An Husserlian Analysis of Solitary Confinement.Lisa Guenther - 2011 - Human Studies 34 (3):257-276.
    Psychiatrist Stuart Grassian has proposed the term “SHU syndrome” to name the cluster of cognitive, perceptual and affective symptoms that commonly arise for inmates held in the Special Housing Units (SHU) of supermax prisons. In this paper, I analyze the harm of solitary confinement from a phenomenological perspective by drawing on Husserl’s account of the essential relation between consciousness, the experience of an alter ego and the sense of a real, Objective world. While Husserl’s prioritization of transcendental subjectivity over transcendental (...)
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  44. Death and Other Penalties: Philosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration.Lisa Guenther, Geoffrey Adelsberg & Scott Zeman (eds.) - 2015 - Fordham UP.
    Motivated by a conviction that mass incarceration and state execution are among the most important ethical and political problems of our time, the contributors to this volume come together from a diverse range of backgrounds to analyze, critique, and envision alternatives to the injustices of the U.S. prison system, with recourse to deconstruction, phenomenology, critical race theory, feminism, queer theory, and disability studies. They engage with the hyper-incarceration of people of color, the incomplete abolition of slavery, the exploitation of prisoners (...)
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  45. “From the Prison of Slavery to the Slavery of Prison”.Brady Thomas Heiner - 2007 - Radical Philosophy Today 2007:219-227.
    One of the most radical dimensions of Davis’s critique of American democracy is her exposure of the vestiges of slavery that remain in the contemporary criminal justice system. I discuss this aspect of her critical project, its roots in Du Bois’s critique of Black Reconstruction, and the way that it informs her prison abolitionism and her two-pronged program for the formation of a genuine “abolition democracy.” I conclude by reflecting upon Davis’s reticence about abolition as a constructive enterprise and assessing (...)
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  46. ''Punishment, Contempt, and the Prospect of Moral Reform''.Zachary Hoskins - 2013 - Criminal Justice Ethics 32 (1):1-18.
    This paper objects to certain forms of punishments, such as supermax confinement, on grounds that they are inappropriately contemptuous. Building on discussions in Kant and elsewhere, I flesh out what I take to be salient features of contempt, features that make contempt especially troubling as a form of moral regard and treatment. As problematic as contempt may be in the interpersonal context, I contend that it is especially troubling when a person is treated contemptuously by her political community’s institutions -- (...)
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  47. Taking Deterrence Seriously: The Wide-Scope Deterrence Theory of Punishment.Lee Hsin-wen - 2017 - Criminal Justice Ethics 36 (1):2-24.
    A deterrence theory of punishment holds that the institution of criminal punishment is morally justified because it serves to deter crime. Because the fear of external sanction is an important incentive in crime deterrence, the deterrence theory is often associated with the idea of severe, disproportionate punishment. An objection to this theory holds that hope of escape renders even the severest punishment inapt and irrelevant. -/- This article revisits the concept of deterrence and defend a more plausible deterrence theory of (...)
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  48. Imprisonment and the Right to Freedom of Movement.Robert C. Hughes - 2018 - In Chris W. Surprenant (ed.), Rethinking Punishment in the Era of Mass Incarceration. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 89-104.
    Government’s use of imprisonment raises distinctive moral issues. Even if government has broad authority to make and to enforce law, government may not be entitled to use imprisonment as a punishment for all the criminal laws it is entitled to make. Indeed, there may be some serious crimes that it is wrong to punish with imprisonment, even if the conditions of imprisonment are humane and even if no adequate alternative punishments are available.
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  49. Happiness in Prison.Sabrina Intelisano - unknown
    In this thesis I am going to explore the relationship between happiness and imprisonment. I will discuss three theories of happiness - hedonism, life satisfaction theories and emotional states theories. I will argue that the main problem of these theories is that they take happiness to consist only of psychological states. Because of this, I will turn my attention towards those theories that evaluate happiness in terms of how well life is going for the person who is living it. I (...)
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  50. The Liberal Polity, Criminal Sanction, and Civil Society.Jonathan Jacobs - 2013 - Criminal Justice Ethics 32 (3):1-16.
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