No Brave New World: Limiting prisoners’ horizons in the name of public acceptability

Yvonne Jewkes1

1Research Professor in Criminology, School of Applied Social Science, University of Brighton

This presentation will discuss the limits to prisoners’ horizons that arise from pandering to perceived public opinion about digital media in correctional environments.  Writing a decade before the World Wide Web became publicly available, and two decades before Facebook was created, Joshua Meyrowitz commented on the democratising potential of media technologies that allow people to experience and interact with others in spite of physical isolation. ‘The walls of the mightiest fortress’, he said, ‘no longer define a truly segregated social setting’ if any form of media is present (No Sense of Place, 1985: viii).  Yet this is precisely the problem for many critics who believe that the freedoms offered by digital media run counter to the purposes of imprisonment. In many jurisdictions across the world, then, prisons are being designed with a deprivational philosophy that denies prisoners access to the digital technologies that the rest of society depend on.

Beneath pragmatic concerns about risks to security is a desire to meet ‘the public acceptability test’, though this may mask a deeper fear of the epistemological threat to the physicality of the prison environment and experience posed by ‘new’ media. Many believe that imprisonment should be a time of isolation, solitude and penitence, as well as retribution, material hardship and suffering.  Digital media ‘unborders’ the tightly policed and defined margins of prison space and ‘unfixes’ the prisoner body.  For these reasons, most prison authorities are highly resistant to the introduction of digital infrastructures, resulting in prisoners not only being ‘place-bound’, but also entirely excluded from participation in what now constitutes ‘normal’ life.  The consequence is a profound and unprecedented level of disconnection between prisons and society, leading to deep, long-term social exclusion of individuals who have been sentenced to custody.

Biography

Yvonne Jewkes is Research Professor in Criminology at the University of Brighton, having held previous posts at the University of Leicester and the Open University.  She is Principal Investigator on a major ESRC-funded study of prison architecture, design and technology in the UK and Scandinavia, and has acted as a consultant to the UK Ministry of Justice, and to prison services, departments of corrections and prison architects in many countries around the world.  Yvonne has written several articles about prison architecture, design and technology, and also chapters in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Criminology (6th edition) and the Routledge International Handbook of Visual Criminology.

Yvonne is also known for her work on media and crime and was the founding editor (with Jeff Ferrell and Chris Greer) of Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal.  She is the author of the best selling Media and Crime (in its third edition) and the forthcoming Media and Crime in the USA (co-authored with Travis Linnemann).

In November 2016, she was invited to give the prestigious annual John V Barry Memorial Lecture in Criminology at the University of Melbourne where she is currently an Honorary Visiting Fellow. Her lecture was entitled ‘Designs on Punishment: The Architecture of Incarceration and the Architecture of Hope’.

No Brave New World: Limiting prisoners’ horizons in the name of public acceptability

Yvonne Jewkes1

1Research Professor in Criminology, School of Applied Social Science, University of Brighton

This presentation will discuss the limits to prisoners’ horizons that arise from pandering to perceived public opinion about digital media in correctional environments.  Writing a decade before the World Wide Web became publicly available, and two decades before Facebook was created, Joshua Meyrowitz commented on the democratising potential of media technologies that allow people to experience and interact with others in spite of physical isolation. ‘The walls of the mightiest fortress’, he said, ‘no longer define a truly segregated social setting’ if any form of media is present (No Sense of Place, 1985: viii).  Yet this is precisely the problem for many critics who believe that the freedoms offered by digital media run counter to the purposes of imprisonment. In many jurisdictions across the world, then, prisons are being designed with a deprivational philosophy that denies prisoners access to the digital technologies that the rest of society depend on.

Beneath pragmatic concerns about risks to security is a desire to meet ‘the public acceptability test’, though this may mask a deeper fear of the epistemological threat to the physicality of the prison environment and experience posed by ‘new’ media. Many believe that imprisonment should be a time of isolation, solitude and penitence, as well as retribution, material hardship and suffering.  Digital media ‘unborders’ the tightly policed and defined margins of prison space and ‘unfixes’ the prisoner body.  For these reasons, most prison authorities are highly resistant to the introduction of digital infrastructures, resulting in prisoners not only being ‘place-bound’, but also entirely excluded from participation in what now constitutes ‘normal’ life.  The consequence is a profound and unprecedented level of disconnection between prisons and society, leading to deep, long-term social exclusion of individuals who have been sentenced to custody.

Biography

Yvonne Jewkes is Research Professor in Criminology at the University of Brighton, having held previous posts at the University of Leicester and the Open University.  She is Principal Investigator on a major ESRC-funded study of prison architecture, design and technology in the UK and Scandinavia, and has acted as a consultant to the UK Ministry of Justice, and to prison services, departments of corrections and prison architects in many countries around the world.  Yvonne has written several articles about prison architecture, design and technology, and also chapters in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Criminology (6th edition) and the Routledge International Handbook of Visual Criminology.

Yvonne is also known for her work on media and crime and was the founding editor (with Jeff Ferrell and Chris Greer) of Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal.  She is the author of the best selling Media and Crime (in its third edition) and the forthcoming Media and Crime in the USA (co-authored with Travis Linnemann).

In November 2016, she was invited to give the prestigious annual John V Barry Memorial Lecture in Criminology at the University of Melbourne where she is currently an Honorary Visiting Fellow. Her lecture was entitled ‘Designs on Punishment: The Architecture of Incarceration and the Architecture of Hope’.

Anatomy of the myth of Japan, the safest country in the world; how has Japan maintained low crime rate?

If we take an international view of things, Japan enjoyed its post-war reputation as one of the most crime-free countries. The number of homicides reported in Japan has constantly decreased since 1955, and the five years from 2009 to 2013 constituted a period of reduction to an all-time low of 939 in 2013, while the clearance rate in 2013 remained stable and very high, at 100%. According to the Global Study on Homicide 2013 (UN Office on Drugs and Crime), the Japanese homicide rate in 2011 was around 0.3 per 100,000 population – which was lower than in nearly any other advanced democracy. In addition, it is also important to bear in mind that the one year prevalence rate (0.6) of ‘assaults & threats’ in Japan is lowest among all of the countries participating in ICVS 2003-2004.

On the contrary, the Japanese public has become more fearful about their public safety and lost their faith in the criminal justice system’s effectiveness since the mid-1990s because of the media coverage of crimes. Because of the moral panic, Japan has begun not only to take a more punitive sentencing approach, but has also widened and thinned its criminal justice net since 1995, when the Tokyo sarin gas attack happened.

Braithwaite (1989) once claimed that Japan’s success in maintaining a low crime rate could be explained by the commitment of the Japanese criminal justice system, and Japanese society in general, to notions of reintegration and reparation. It seems to be true if we pay attention to the statistics on the relationship between the amount of reparation and punishment. The more you compensate, the more you have chance to get a suspended sentence.

But, had the Japanese society been really still re-integrative and the criminal justice lenient?  In the last two decades, since the punitive turn of the criminal justice policy, many elderly have sent to prisons for repeated but very minor shopliftings. The more they re-offended, the longer they have to serve in prison regardless of the damages caused by their offenses.

Indeed, despite the absolute drop in overall crime in Japan, the punitive policy (punishment) is regressive, which means the burden is relatively higher for disadvantaged people such as low-income earners, socially isolated people as well as mentally handicapped people. Those who have been caught by the criminal justice net, are essentially the disadvantaged (In 2012, 21% of the inmates were found to have an IQ below 70.), especially elderly petty offenders. In 2013 more than 17% of new inmates are now above 60 years of age and have no pension to fall back on. In practice, prisons in Japan are being used to make up for the lack of social welfare provision and have become the ‘last safety net’. In this August, the government announced to assign care workers in prisons.

While the number of crimes has been decreasing and Japan almost achieved the safest society in human history, the prisons has detained full of elderly and handicapped people for minor offenses. According to the recent study by the Ministry of Justice, they found that 14% of inmates over 60 are suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer. Then, in the last two decades, more than a thousand of them have died in prisons.

In 2011, March 11, huge earthquake attacked the northern part of Japan, tens of thousands of people died due to the tsunami, and the reactor of the Fukushima nuclear power plant was melted down. However, there was almost no riot or pillage in the area. No police officer abandoned their duty. What kind of mechanism in the society can this be possible?

Based on the above, I would like to explore the social mechanism of the low crime rate in Japan.

Anatomy of the myth of Japan, the safest country in the world; how has Japan maintained low crime rate?

Koichi Hamai

School of Law, Ryukoku University

If we take an international view of things, Japan enjoyed its post-war reputation as one of the most crime-free countries. The number of homicides reported in Japan has constantly decreased since 1955, and the five years from 2009 to 2013 constituted a period of reduction to an all-time low of 939 in 2013, while the clearance rate in 2013 remained stable and very high, at 100%. According to the Global Study on Homicide 2013 (UN Office on Drugs and Crime), the Japanese homicide rate in 2011 was around 0.3 per 100,000 population – which was lower than in nearly any other advanced democracy. In addition, it is also important to bear in mind that the one year prevalence rate (0.6) of ‘assaults & threats’ in Japan is lowest among all of the countries participating in ICVS 2003-2004.

On the contrary, the Japanese public has become more fearful about their public safety and lost their faith in the criminal justice system’s effectiveness since the mid-1990s because of the media coverage of crimes. Because of the moral panic, Japan has begun not only to take a more punitive sentencing approach, but has also widened and thinned its criminal justice net since 1995, when the Tokyo sarin gas attack happened.

Braithwaite (1989) once claimed that Japan’s success in maintaining a low crime rate could be explained by the commitment of the Japanese criminal justice system, and Japanese society in general, to notions of reintegration and reparation. It seems to be true if we pay attention to the statistics on the relationship between the amount of reparation and punishment. The more you compensate, the more you have chance to get a suspended sentence.

But, had the Japanese society been really still re-integrative and the criminal justice lenient? In the last two decades, since the punitive turn of the criminal justice policy, many elderly have sent to prisons for repeated but very minor shopliftings. The more they re-offended, the longer they have to serve in prison regardless of the damages caused by their offenses.
Indeed, despite the absolute drop in overall crime in Japan, the punitive policy (punishment) is regressive, which means the burden is relatively higher for disadvantaged people such as low-income earners, socially isolated people as well as mentally handicapped people. Those who have been caught by the criminal justice net, are essentially the disadvantaged (In 2012, 21% of the inmates were found to have an IQ below 70.), especially elderly petty offenders. In 2013 more than 17% of new inmates are now above 60 years of age and have no pension to fall back on. In practice, prisons in Japan are being used to make up for the lack of social welfare provision and have become the ‘last safety net’. In this August, the government announced to assign care workers in prisons.

While the number of crimes has been decreasing and Japan almost achieved the safest society in human history, the prisons has detained full of elderly and handicapped people for minor offenses. According to the recent study by the Ministry of Justice, they found that 14% of inmates over 60 are suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer. Then, in the last two decades, more than a thousand of them have died in prisons.

In 2011, March 11, huge earthquake attacked the northern part of Japan, tens of thousands of people died due to the tsunami, and the reactor of the Fukushima nuclear power plant was melted down. However, there was almost no riot or pillage in the area. No police officer abandoned their duty. What kind of mechanism in the society can this be possible?
Based on the above, I would like to explore the social mechanism of the low crime rate in Japan.

Anatomy of the myth of Japan, the safest country in the world; how has Japan maintained low crime rate?

Koichi Hamai

School of Law, Ryukoku University

If we take an international view of things, Japan enjoyed its post-war reputation as one of the most crime-free countries. The number of homicides reported in Japan has constantly decreased since 1955, and the five years from 2009 to 2013 constituted a period of reduction to an all-time low of 939 in 2013, while the clearance rate in 2013 remained stable and very high, at 100%. According to the Global Study on Homicide 2013 (UN Office on Drugs and Crime), the Japanese homicide rate in 2011 was around 0.3 per 100,000 population – which was lower than in nearly any other advanced democracy. In addition, it is also important to bear in mind that the one year prevalence rate (0.6) of ‘assaults & threats’ in Japan is lowest among all of the countries participating in ICVS 2003-2004.

On the contrary, the Japanese public has become more fearful about their public safety and lost their faith in the criminal justice system’s effectiveness since the mid-1990s because of the media coverage of crimes. Because of the moral panic, Japan has begun not only to take a more punitive sentencing approach, but has also widened and thinned its criminal justice net since 1995, when the Tokyo sarin gas attack happened.

Braithwaite (1989) once claimed that Japan’s success in maintaining a low crime rate could be explained by the commitment of the Japanese criminal justice system, and Japanese society in general, to notions of reintegration and reparation. It seems to be true if we pay attention to the statistics on the relationship between the amount of reparation and punishment. The more you compensate, the more you have chance to get a suspended sentence.

But, had the Japanese society been really still re-integrative and the criminal justice lenient? In the last two decades, since the punitive turn of the criminal justice policy, many elderly have sent to prisons for repeated but very minor shopliftings. The more they re-offended, the longer they have to serve in prison regardless of the damages caused by their offenses.
Indeed, despite the absolute drop in overall crime in Japan, the punitive policy (punishment) is regressive, which means the burden is relatively higher for disadvantaged people such as low-income earners, socially isolated people as well as mentally handicapped people. Those who have been caught by the criminal justice net, are essentially the disadvantaged (In 2012, 21% of the inmates were found to have an IQ below 70.), especially elderly petty offenders. In 2013 more than 17% of new inmates are now above 60 years of age and have no pension to fall back on. In practice, prisons in Japan are being used to make up for the lack of social welfare provision and have become the ‘last safety net’. In this August, the government announced to assign care workers in prisons.

While the number of crimes has been decreasing and Japan almost achieved the safest society in human history, the prisons has detained full of elderly and handicapped people for minor offenses. According to the recent study by the Ministry of Justice, they found that 14% of inmates over 60 are suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer. Then, in the last two decades, more than a thousand of them have died in prisons.

In 2011, March 11, huge earthquake attacked the northern part of Japan, tens of thousands of people died due to the tsunami, and the reactor of the Fukushima nuclear power plant was melted down. However, there was almost no riot or pillage in the area. No police officer abandoned their duty. What kind of mechanism in the society can this be possible?
Based on the above, I would like to explore the social mechanism of the low crime rate in Japan.

Drifting toward an alternative criminology

Jeff Ferrell

We occupy a contemporary world awash with drift and drifters – a world in which dislocation and disorientation have become phenomena in their own right. To make sense of this world we might inquire into drift’s long history, while also situating contemporary drift within the particular economic, legal, and cultural dynamics of today’s globalized world. In critically analyzing this world we will surely want to account for the contested politics of drift – the ways in which legal and economic arrangements both spawn drift and operate to control it, and the ways in which drifters create their own slippery strategies of resistance. In all of this we can usefully recall and reinvent drift as a conceptual orientation within sociology and criminology, and can perhaps bring these disciplines into closer engagement with the contemporary world by learning the theoretical and methodological lessons offered by drift itself.

Biography

Jeff Ferrell is Professor of Sociology at Texas Christian University, USA, and Visiting Professor of Criminology at the University of Kent, UK. He is author of the books Crimes of Style, Tearing Down the Streets, Empire of Scrounge, and, with Keith Hayward and Jock Young, the first and second editions of Cultural Criminology: An Invitation, winner of the 2009 Distinguished Book Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division of International Criminology. He is co-editor of the books Cultural Criminology, Ethnography at the Edge, Making Trouble, Cultural Criminology Unleashed, and Cultural Criminology: Theories of Crime. Jeff Ferrell is founding and current editor of the New York University Press book series Alternative Criminology, and one of the founding editors of Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, winner of the ALPSP 2006 Charlesworth Award for Best New Journal. In 1998 Ferrell received the Critical Criminologist of the Year Award from the Critical Criminology Division of the American Society of Criminology. He is currently completing a book on drift and drifters.

Drifting toward an alternative criminology

Jeff Ferrell

We occupy a contemporary world awash with drift and drifters – a world in which dislocation and disorientation have become phenomena in their own right. To make sense of this world we might inquire into drift’s long history, while also situating contemporary drift within the particular economic, legal, and cultural dynamics of today’s globalized world. In critically analyzing this world we will surely want to account for the contested politics of drift – the ways in which legal and economic arrangements both spawn drift and operate to control it, and the ways in which drifters create their own slippery strategies of resistance. In all of this we can usefully recall and reinvent drift as a conceptual orientation within sociology and criminology, and can perhaps bring these disciplines into closer engagement with the contemporary world by learning the theoretical and methodological lessons offered by drift itself.

Biography

Jeff Ferrell is Professor of Sociology at Texas Christian University, USA, and Visiting Professor of Criminology at the University of Kent, UK. He is author of the books Crimes of Style, Tearing Down the Streets, Empire of Scrounge, and, with Keith Hayward and Jock Young, the first and second editions of Cultural Criminology: An Invitation, winner of the 2009 Distinguished Book Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division of International Criminology. He is co-editor of the books Cultural Criminology, Ethnography at the Edge, Making Trouble, Cultural Criminology Unleashed, and Cultural Criminology: Theories of Crime. Jeff Ferrell is founding and current editor of the New York University Press book series Alternative Criminology, and one of the founding editors of Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, winner of the ALPSP 2006 Charlesworth Award for Best New Journal. In 1998 Ferrell received the Critical Criminologist of the Year Award from the Critical Criminology Division of the American Society of Criminology. He is currently completing a book on drift and drifters.

The (Criminological) War of the Worlds

Sandra Walklate

Eleanor Rathbone Chair of Sociology, University of Liverpool conjoint

Chair of Criminology, Monash University, Melbourne.

 

H.G. Wells’ classic science fiction novel (from which the title of this presentation is taken) was first published in book form in 1898 arguably at the height of the Western colonial project. Indeed on the opening pages of this book he writes about the impending Martian threat in the following way, ‘And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?’

In this presentation I wish to use this novel as a touchstone and the notion of war as a metaphor, to reflect upon the current state of the criminological endeavour. Using the substantive example of the relative and ongoing (in)visibility of the interconnections between war and questions of gender, the inherent limitations of the criminological embrace of liberalism will be exposed. Once exposed, the constraints that this imposes on the future vision of criminology become visible and the demands of newer horizons come into view. These horizons de-centre the traditional, early twentieth century concerns of the discipline and arguably re-centre the concerns expressed by Bonger (1916) who, like Wells, was equally concerned with the consequences of oppressive militarism resulting from the dominance of hegemonic (Western) capitalism.

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