Beginning in the late 1960s a series of reforms saw the emergence of vast numbers of bureaucratic instruments meant to standardize the care, custody, and control of inmates. Grievance and disciplinary procedures were largely homogenized to ensure inmates’ protection from the abuses that were prevalent especially in the southern plantation model of incarceration. These same procedures, however, resulted in the increasing removal of prisoners from the sphere of legal, judicial, and, more broadly, public discourse and oversight. This article analyzes how the failure to prosecute crimes committed inside the prison functions to diminish the legal and political standing of both criminal and victim. In handling crime as an extrajudicial matter, adjudicated exclusively by disciplinary boards, the prisoner-criminal and prisoner-victim are positioned as quasi-legal subjects, bearing neither the rights nor responsibilities of citizenship. The prison, therefore, is a model institution for downsizing citizenship, and its disciplinary procedures are an ideal model for the neoliberalization of public institutions.
Quasi: Adjudicating Guilt, Innocence, and Citizenship in the Neoliberal Prison
Deena Varner is a Global Perspectives on Society Fellow at New York University Shanghai. Her research interests include prison studies, cultural studies of the law, carceral and criminal geographies, and politics of work and leisure. Her work has appeared recently in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, the Journal of Historical Geography, and Women’s Studies.
Deena Varner; Quasi: Adjudicating Guilt, Innocence, and Citizenship in the Neoliberal Prison. Cultural Politics 1 July 2019; 15 (2): 139–161. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-7537515
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