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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132 found
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  1. added 2020-05-16
    Safety and Sacrifice.Ami Harbin - 2017 - Ethics and Social Welfare 11 (2):163-176.
  2. added 2020-01-30
    Justifying Prison Breaks as Civil Disobedience.Isaac Shur - 2019 - Aporia 19 (2):14-26.
    I argue that given the persistent injustice present within the Prison Industrial Complex in the United States, many incarcerated individuals would be justified in attempting to escape and that these prison breaks may qualify as acts of civil disobedience. After an introduction in section one, section two offers a critique of the classical liberal conception of civil disobedience envisioned by John Rawls. Contrary to Rawls, I argue that acts of civil disobedience can involve both violence and evasion of punishment, both (...)
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  3. added 2020-01-26
    Enforcing Immigration Law.Matthew Lister - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (3).
    Over the last few years, an increasingly sophisticated literature devoted to normative questions arising out of the enforcement of immigration law had developed. In this essay, I consider what sorts of constraints considerations of justice and legitimacy may place on the enforcement of immigration law, even if we assume that states have significant discretion in setting their own immigration policies, and that open borders are not required by justice. I consider constraints placed on state or national governments, constraints on enforcement (...)
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  4. added 2020-01-26
    Retributivism and the Use of Imprisonment as the Ultimate Back-Up Sanction.William Bülow - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 32 (2):285-303.
    Imprisonment is often said to be the ultimate back-up sanction for offenders who do not abide by their non-custodial sentence. From a standard consequentialist perspective this is morally justified, if it is a cost-effective means to crime prevention. In contrast, the use of imprisonment as a back-up is much harder to justify from retributivist perspectives, with their emphasis on just desert or deserved censure. The crux is this: if the reason for a non-custodial sentence is that a prison sentence risks (...)
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  5. added 2019-12-15
    Reconciliation as the Aim of a Criminal Trial: Ubuntu’s Implications for Sentencing.Thaddeus Metz - 2019 - Constitutional Court Review 9:113-134.
    In this article, I seek to answer the following cluster of questions: What would a characteristically African, and specifically relational, conception of a criminal trial’s final end look like? What would the Afro-relational approach prescribe for sentencing? Would its implications for this matter forcefully rival the kinds of penalties that judges in South Africa and similar jurisdictions typically mete out? After pointing out how the southern African ethic of ubuntu is well understood as a relational ethic, I draw out of (...)
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  6. added 2019-11-03
    Can Capital Punishment Survive If Black Lives Matter?Michael Cholbi & Alex Madva - forthcoming - In Michael Cholbi, Brandon Hogan, Alex Madva & Benjamin Yost (eds.), The Movement for Black Lives: Philosophical Perspectives. New York:
    Drawing upon empirical studies of racial discrimination dating back to the 1940’s, the Movement for Black Lives platform calls for the abolition of capital punishment. Our purpose here is to defend the Movement’s call for death penalty abolition in terms congruent with its claim that the death penalty in the U.S. is a “racist practice” that “devalues Black lives.” We first sketch the jurisprudential history of race and capital punishment in the U.S., wherein courts have occasionally expressed worries about racial (...)
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  7. added 2019-09-29
    Du Bois, Foucault, and Self-Torsion: Criterion of Imprisoned Art.Joshua M. Hall - 2014 - In Joshua M. Hall & Sarah Tyson (eds.), Philosophy Imprisoned: The Love of Wisdom in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Lanham, MD 20706, USA: pp. 105-124.
    [First paragraphs: This essay takes its practical orientation from my experiences as a member of a philosophy reading group on death row at Riverbend Maximum Security Penitentiary in Nashville, Tennessee. Its theoretical orientation comes from W. E. B. Du Bois’ lecture-turned-essay, “Criteria of Negro Art,” which argues that the realm of aesthetics is vitally important in the war against racial discrimination in the United States. And since, according to Michele Alexander’s critically-acclaimed The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age (...)
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  8. added 2019-09-02
    Colonial Mind, Colonised Body: Structural Violence and Incarceration in Aotearoa.Elese B. Dowden - 2019 - Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy 1 (30):88-102.
    There is an inherent link between colonisation and carceral institutions, and in this paper I aim to illuminate and critically review the philosophical implications of prison structures in relation to coloniality. I draw on the work of Lewis Gordon, Frantz Fanon & Nelson Maldonado-Torres in arguing that physical incarceration not only colonises the body, but the mind too, as a form of structural violence. In order to establish an existential phenomenological framework for coloniality in incarceration, I also make reference to (...)
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  9. added 2019-06-08
    Is Preventive Detention Morally Worse Than Quarantine?Thomas Douglas - 2019 - In Jan W. De Keijser, Julian Roberts & Jesper Ryberg (eds.), Predictive Sentencing: Normative and Empirical Perspectives. London: Hart Publishing.
    In some jurisdictions, the institutions of criminal justice may subject individuals who have committed crimes to preventive detention. By this, I mean detention of criminal offenders (i) who have already been punished to (or beyond) the point that no further punishment can be justified on general deterrent, retributive, restitutory, communicative or other backwardlooking grounds, (ii) for preventive purposes—that is, for the purposes of preventing the detained individual from engaging in further criminal or otherwise socially costly conduct. Preventive detention, thus understood, (...)
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  10. added 2019-06-06
    Essential Questions About Prison Privatization.William B. Waegel - 2011 - Journal of Catholic Social Thought 8 (1):111-125.
  11. added 2019-06-06
    The Christian Virtue of Justice and the U.S. Prison.Kathryn Getek Soltis - 2011 - Journal of Catholic Social Thought 8 (1):37-56.
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    Prisons and Their Moral Performance: A Study of Values, Quality, and Prison Life.Alison Liebling & Helen Arnold - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
    This book constitutes a critical case study of the modern search for public sector reform. It includes a detailed account of a study aimed at developing a meaningful way of evaluating difficult-to-measure moral dimensions of the quality of prisons. The author calls for greater clarity and increased attention to these important aspects of organizational life.
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  13. added 2019-06-05
    Book ReviewsRichard L. Lippke, Rethinking Imprisonment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. 278. $95.00.Thom Brooks - 2008 - Ethics 118 (3):562-564.
    This is a review of Richard Lippke - "Rethinking Imprisonment".
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  14. added 2019-01-03
    Towards Transitional Justice? Black Reparations and the End of Mass Incarceration.Jennifer Page & Desmond King - 2018 - Ethnic and Racial Studies 41 (4):739-758.
    There are many commonalities between the goals of transitional justice and domestic redress movements. We look at the movement for reparations for enslavement and Jim Crow in the United States as an example of a domestic reparations movement, and argue for the usefulness of the concept of transitional justice. We are particularly interested in showing that a future democratic transition – the end of mass incarceration – could animate a renewed push for reparations and a formal investigation into America’s legacy (...)
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  15. added 2018-11-16
    Deserved Delayed Release? The Communicative Theory of Punishment and Indeterminate Prison Sentences.William Bülow - 2018 - Criminal Justice Ethics 37 (2):164-181.
    Indeterminate sentencing is a sentencing practice where offenders are sentenced to a range of potential imprisonment terms and where the actual release date is determined later, typically by a parole board. Although indeterminate sentencing is often considered morally problematic from a retributivist perspective, Michael O’Hear has provided an interesting attempt to reconcile indeterminate sentencing with the communicative version of retributivism developed by Antony Duff. O’Hear’s core argument is that delayed release, within the parameters of the indeterminate sentence, can be seen (...)
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  16. added 2018-09-21
    Coercion and the Neurocorrective Offer.Jonathan Pugh - forthcoming - In David Rhys Birks & Thomas Douglas (eds.), reatment for Crime: Philosophical Essays on Neurointerventions in Criminal Justice. Oxford, UK:
    According to what Douglas calls ‘the consent requirement’, neuro-correctives can only permissibly be provided with the valid consent of the offender who will undergo the intervention. Some of those who endorse the consent requirement have claimed that even though the requirement prohibits the imposition of mandatory neurocorrectives on criminal offenders, it may yet be permissible to offer offenders the opportunity to consent to undergoing such an intervention, in return for a reduction to their penal sentence. I call this the neurocorrective (...)
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  17. added 2018-08-22
    Empirical Desert, Individual Prevention, and Limiting Retributivism: A Reply.Paul Robinson, Joshua S. Barton & Matthew J. Lister - 2014 - New Criminal Law Review 17 (2):312-375.
    A number of articles and empirical studies over the past decade, most by Paul Robinson and co-authors, have suggested a relationship between the extent of the criminal law's reputation for being just in its distribution of criminal liability and punishment in the eyes of the community – its "moral credibility" – and its ability to gain that community's deference and compliance through a variety of mechanisms that enhance its crime-control effectiveness. This has led to proposals to have criminal liability and (...)
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  18. added 2018-07-17
    Hypocrisy, Inconsistency, and the Moral Standing of the State.Kyle G. Fritz - 2019 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 13 (2):309-327.
    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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  19. added 2018-03-28
    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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  20. added 2018-03-01
    Democratic Theory and Mass Incarceration.Albert Dzur, Ian Loader & Richard Sparks (eds.) - 2016 - Oxford University Press USA.
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  21. added 2017-11-28
    A New Societal Self-Defense Theory of Punishment—The Rights-Protection Theory.Hsin-Wen Lee - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (2):337-353.
    In this paper, I propose a new self-defense theory of punishment, the rights-protection theory. By appealing to the interest theory of right, I show that what we call “the right of self-defense” is actually composed of the right to protect our basic rights. The right of self-defense is not a single, self-standing right but a group of derivative rights justified by their contribution to the protection of the core, basic rights. Thus, these rights of self-defense are both justified and constrained (...)
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  22. added 2017-10-31
    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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  23. added 2017-10-30
    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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  24. added 2017-09-11
    Punishment: A Costly Signal?Gregory Robson - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (4):208-219.
    In “Punishment as a Costly Signal of Reform,” Jim Staihar argues that prisons should provide inmates with opportunities to sacrifice in ways that signal their genuine reform to others. I first show why Staihar’s program would be valuable, but only in restricted contexts. I then argue that costly signaling programs will usually be either not sufficiently costly to be taken seriously by the signal’s receivers or not rational for inmates in harsh prison environments to complete. Next, I consider the worry (...)
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  25. added 2017-09-11
    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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  26. added 2017-09-11
    Punishment as a Costly Signal of Reform.Jim Staihar - 2013 - Journal of Philosophy 110 (5):282-292.
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  27. added 2017-08-03
    Neuro-Interventions as Criminal Rehabilitation: An Ethical Review.Jonathan Pugh & Thomas Douglas - 2017 - In Jonathan D. Jacobs & Jonathan Jackson (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics. London: Routledge.
    According to a number of influential views in penal theory, 1 one of the primary goals of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate offenders. Rehabilitativemeasures are commonly included as a part of a criminal sentence. For example, in some jurisdictions judges may order violent offenders to attend anger management classes or to undergo cognitive behavioural therapy as a part of their sentences. In a limited number of cases, neurointerventions — interventions that exert a direct biological effect on the brain (...)
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  28. added 2017-08-02
    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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  29. added 2017-06-16
    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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  30. added 2017-06-16
    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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  31. added 2017-04-15
    Toward an Account of Intolerance: Between Prison Resistance and Engaged Scholarship.Perry Zurn - 2017 - The Carceral Notebooks 12:97-128.
    The word “intolerance” bears almost exclusively negative connotations. It is treated invariably, almost ideologically as a vice. What would it mean to reconceive of intolerance as a virtue—or, at the very least, a positive affect? In this essay, I analyze two complementary archives of positive intolerance: the records of the Prisons Information Group (the GIP) and the writings of one of its members: Michel Foucault. For the GIP, intolerance—as a militant refusal of intolerable material and political conditions—is essential to the (...)
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  32. added 2017-02-16
    The End of Prisons: Reflections From the Decarceration Movement. Edited by Mechthild E. Nagel and Anthony J. Nocella II. [REVIEW]Luke Pigott - 2013 - Journal for Peace and Justice Studies 23 (2):194-197.
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  33. added 2017-02-15
    Moundsville Penitentiary Reconsidered: Second Thoughts on Hyperreality at a Small Town Prison Tour.Allen Mendenhall - 2010 - Libertarian Papers 2:1.
    In 2007, I toured Moundsville Penitentiary, a tourist spectacle that was once—and fairly recently—a working prison. I wrote about the experience as would a journalist, except that my working paradigm was the postmodern theory of hyperreality, which Jean Baudrillard used to describe the complex tensions between reality and illusion. A term of semiotics, hyperreality refers to the disappearance of the referent and its subsequent, oft-replicated simulation. It almost always involves strategically controlled images that distort and conceal true meaning. The International (...)
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  34. added 2017-02-14
    Unger-3," Brutal Prisons Are Hurting Us All.H. Stephen - forthcoming - Ends and Means.
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  35. added 2017-02-14
    Prison Narratives, Narrative Prisons: Incarcerated Women Reading Gayl Jones's "Eva's Man".Megan Sweeney - 2004 - Feminist Studies 30 (2):456-482.
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  36. added 2017-02-13
    The Imprisonment and Inquisitional Trial of Catel, Jean as Related by Himself.F. Max - 1987 - Revue D'Histoire Et de Philosophie Religieuses 67 (1):1-17.
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  37. added 2017-02-12
    Voters Should Not Be in Prison! The Rights of Prisoners in a Democracy.Peter Ramsay - 2013 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (3):421-438.
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  38. added 2017-02-12
    Prison Through a Philosophic Prism.Raam P. Gokhale - 2012 - Philosophy Pathways 174.
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  39. added 2017-02-11
    The Temporal Prison.Robin Le Poidevin - 2011 - Analysis 71 (3):456 - 465.
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  40. added 2017-02-09
    The Prisons of Man.James Bernauer - 1987 - International Philosophical Quarterly 27 (4):365-380.
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  41. added 2017-02-08
    Decarceration and the Philosophies of Mass Imprisonment.Jeffrey Paris - 2007 - Human Studies 30 (4):323 - 343.
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  42. added 2017-02-03
    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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  43. added 2017-02-02
    Puerto Rican Political Prisoners.Jan Susler - 2000 - Radical Philosophy Review 3 (1):28-40.
    Using analysis and anecdote, the author examines fifteen Puerto Rican political prisoners in the U.S. prison system and the disproportionate sentences for their actions to end U.S. colonial control over Puerto Rico. These prisoners, lacking prior felony convictions, received punitive, restrictive treatment by the U.S. justice system - despite monitoring by Amnesty International and lawsuits by attorneys. The manufacturing of sting operations to entrap prisoners in illegal activities; their isolation from families; the infliction of physical abuse and psychological torture; and (...)
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  44. added 2017-01-29
    Execution of the Sanction a Non-Custodial Alternative.Anyakwee Nsirimovu & Nigeria) Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Harcourt - 1997
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  45. added 2017-01-29
    The Panopticon Writings.Jeremy Bentham & Miran Bozovic - 1995
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  46. added 2017-01-29
    The Panopticon Writings.Jeremy Bentham & Miran Boézoviéc - 1995
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  47. added 2017-01-28
    Prison on Trial.Thomas Mathieson - 2000
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  48. added 2017-01-27
    Active Intolerance: Michel Foucault, the Prisons Information Group, and the Future of Abolition.Perry Zurn & Andrew Dilts (eds.) - 2015 - New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
    Formed in the wake of May 1968, the Prisons Information Group (GIP) was a radical resistance movement active in France in the early 1970's. Theorist Michel Foucault was heavily involved. This book collects interdisciplinary essays that explore the GIP's resources both for Foucault studies and for prison activism today.
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  49. added 2017-01-27
    Active Intolerance--An Introduction.Perry Zurn & Andrew Dilts - 2015 - In Perry Zurn & Andrew Dilts (eds.), Active Intolerance: Michel Foucault, the Prisons Information Group, and the Future of Abolition. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 1-19.
    Quite shortly after the Prisons Information Group (GIP) was formed, Michel Foucault delivered a public announcement in which he called for a generalized practice of “active intolerance” against a wide range of disciplinary institutions. Due to three consistent scholarly reductions of the GIP’s legacy, the sense of “active intolerance” remains nebulous at best. Cast, by turns, as merely the offshoot of Foucauldian theory, a point of prison data collection, or a short-lived social movement (forgetting its lengthy successor: the Prisoners Action (...)
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  50. added 2017-01-27
    Political Theory and Philosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration.Natalie Cisneros & Andrew Dilts - 2014 - Radical Philosophy Review 17 (2):395-402.
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